Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself, and the Project

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Danger Construction area 2
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I heard a very loud “CRASH” from upstairs. Moments later my Daughter walked down the steps, my teary-eyed Son following slowly behind. “Ummm, something happened” she informed me. It was at that second that my Son broke down into hysterics. He wouldn’t tell me what happened, he kept crying “I’m in big trouble” over and over again. In an effort to reach a toy, he had pulled a mounted shelf out of the wall, knocking toys, drywall, and candle wax (a story for another time) all over his bed, floor, and closet doors. He was very afraid.

Our reaction to events is a very cause-and-effect learned behavior. We’ve can assume, from previous events, what someone’s reaction to a situation will be. And knowing this predicted reaction will often cause us to adjust our response in return. In the instance with the destroyed bedroom wall my son correctly assumed the response would not be pleasant. His reaction was avoidance, and repentance.

I’ve observed similar cause-and-effect behavior when working on projects. How someone chooses to communicate can greatly affect relationships with colleagues, and ultimately the success or failure of the project. If you have a team member that takes an abrasive approach to leading a project or providing feedback, then the reaction of others on the team is to recoil. People begin to expect that reaction and avoid working with that individual at all costs. The adjusted behavior of others on the team is exclusion. The abrasive colleague is left out of meetings, and eventually pushed off the project.

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The same applies to those that act as “helicopters” on a project. Those team members that don’t view themselves as part of the team, but rather above it. They hover over the work of others, often blowing debris everywhere and making a mess. Helicopters need to trust in the competency of others. Everyone was hired onto the team because they possessed a desired skill set. Give them room to do their jobs. Allow them to fail. As I always write, we learn through our failures.

Holes in walls can be repaired, but raising an unhappy child with low self-esteem is difficult to correct. The same is true for your relationships at work. Most projects will never be perfect. Work and knowledge can be scaled, but it’s very hard to repair relationships with colleagues. Before you respond or provide feedback, check yourself before you wreck yourself.


Marilyn Cox

Marilyn Cox is the Director of Marketing for Second City Works - the B2B division of the famed Second City.

You know the buzzwords; inbound, outbound, content, demand gen, lead gen, martech, social media, account-based, advocacy, customer success, sales enablement, and analytics.She studies it, plans it, executes it, experiments with it, and loves it.

Through discovery, creation, and innovation she's learned to say "Yes, And".Like business, her career is one big improvisational act.

She leads all aspects of the brand and culture, developing and executing a clearly defined, integrated marketing communications strategy.Marilyn is responsible for planning, organizing, staffing, training, and managing all marketing functions to achieve objectives of growth, awareness, customer success and making work better.

Marilyn exists to empower sales and support the customer. When not geeking out over marketing analytics, she can be found daydreaming about her unrealized dream as a professional wrestler with the WWE.

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