When working with other people, you will, without a doubt, have to make changes or adjustments based on these other people. People are complicated, and working with them is complicated. A key trait that is needed to work in any team or group setting is flexibility. Flexibility is not just beneficial when working with teams but also when working on projects for other people.
The idea that we will always get everything right is entirely wrong. The idea that other people are always going to get things right is also wrong. Unfortunately, people often make mistakes, and we will have to deal with them. The ability to change plans or have them changed for you and keep on going is crucial in almost every area of life.
Flexibility is a quality used to describe materials, people, plans, and it means bending easily without breaking. Simply you get tested or stretched, and you don’t break. Breaking during a project is never a good thing, and breaking and taking it out on other people is not good either. Other words that people use are resilience, mobility, openness, and versatility. Having these traits takes you from being stuck in your own ways or own forms of thinking and opens you to new concepts, which is exactly what learning looks like. Sometimes being flexible can mean that you have to do more work, but it makes you an easier person to work with and provides a better environment in general.
I like to think of myself as quite flexible when it comes to plans or projects, and my flexibility was put to the test recently in my capstone project meeting. We are now to the stage where we get to move onto the implementation of our project. My team and I were putting together designs and sketches of what our project will actually look like. We wanted to make sure we were all on the same page and get approval before implementing it from our project sponsors. Well, when we presented our layout to our project sponsor, he had some questions that we did not have the answer to and, after some digging, found out that there had been some miscommunication between what he wanted the process to be and what our design will look like. It was honestly very odd because we had been communicating about this the whole time, talking about what we wanted the process to be how things would be implemented but never before had he said that we were off base. Anyway, after a fair bit of discussion and lots of clarifying questions, we understood what it was that was different and now have a much better picture of what things will look like. Our implementation actually got a little easier and definitely more clear. All of this is helpful, but at that moment, I felt like I had completely missed something or we had not had all the information we needed. At that moment, if I was not flexible, that would not have been nearly as productive as it was. Flexibility has some stress built into it, but how you respond to that stress and pressure is what determines if you break or just bend a little.
When we start our school journey, we usually assume that we will do well and learn anything given the right teacher, which is true. So then why do so many people have trouble in college? Well, they expected that college would be easy or that they won’t need to spend all day studying. The real expectation should be that college is a proving grounds for you and your work ethic, perseverance, and willingness to seek the things you want. We should expect to struggle, fail, and ask for help, but we( including myself) tend to think we can do it all good the first time.
I have been good at school and learning most of my life. This knowledge has helped me be confident enough to take on challenges and come out on the other side while also not getting weighed down with all that I have to do and how much time I have to do it. The issue arises when I expect myself to get it right the first time or get it right away. I have learned that the expectations that we place on ourselves can either motivate us or discourage us. Give yourself a little grace and do your best; sometimes, that won’t be enough, but not trying for fear of not meeting your expectations will cripple you going forward. Expect yourself to put in the effort and to have to learn and grow as you go. I don’t think of myself as a perfectionist, but I do have some tendencies that way, and I found a piece of advice that said doing something half-way is still something done half-way was not doing something because you can’t do it perfectly is still nothing done perfectly. Do what you can and do it the best you can with what you have at your disposal, and adjust your expectations accordingly.
The project I am working on has been fun to research and has helped me to get better at researching and understanding how the design and implementation process can change as you go along. I initially expected to implement our store-page directly into another website, but I currently don’t think that will work how we wanted it to do. I expected to create a tool that would build the web store with a few clicks of a button, but I now see that this is most likely not the case. My expectations allowed me to work and continue in the process until I discovered new information to change my expectations. That is the learning process and what college is all about.
I am looking forward to what my team and I create and what we learn along the way. I expect to be challenged, have to grow, and stay up late a few times, but ultimately I expect that we can do what we set our minds to.
“I don’t know who we’ll become
I can’t promise it’s not written in the stars
But I believe that when it’s done
We’re gonna see that it was better”
Lyrics from Grow as We Go by Ben Platt
This week was a week of feeling like I never have enough time to get all the things done. At points, I struggled to get simple stuff done but the college or any type of education like anything else is a test of perseverance, determination, and hard work. When you as a student have to get the work done you are faced with two options either get it done or don’t. The value of getting it done is then you learn something and you can move on to the next thing. The hard part with college is that you very rarely have nothing else to get to and thus are always having to do. This can be draining physically and mentally and even emotionally. Our bodies are not made to be under stress all the time. Unfortunately, college can be that for a lot of people. This all to say take a break and stand up relax shut your eyes for a minute, go on a walk, talk to a friend or roommate, anything to give your mind and body a break. Also for goodness sake get some sleep, I employ 20-30 minute naps most days to let my brain rest and get a little boost before returning to the grindstone.
Okay, Okay now onto what I am really going to talk about.
In college and almost everywhere you will go in life you will be with other people and you could call them groups. One group is the infamous group project or assignments. There are a tremendous amount of benefits to groups but there are also a fair amount of struggles and disadvantages to groups. Group assignments allow people to learn from each other fill in the gaps in understanding or expertise and overall create a better overall result. The problems are that people suck sometimes. People are lazy, I for one can be on occasion, but when you have a group that clicks that is one of the best feelings.
In a group, there are the leaders, the doers, the followers, and the no-shows. The leaders tend to organize and direct the group, the doers are the ones that work outside the group and take a lot of the work, the followers are the ones that can tend to struggle with the project or assignment and often just need a little help then they carry their own weight, and the no-shows are well not helpful. Group projects or assignments often have the majority of the work fall on a few select individuals, and they do it and do it well, but this can lead to burnout and unnecessary stress. I don’t believe that the no-shows or those who don’t contribute as much do it intentionally; sometimes, they are behind or struggling in their own right, which is okay. We are all going to be there at one time or another, so give people a little grace and encourage them instead of getting mad. They are not malicious actors that want to take you down with them, so don’t treat them like the enemy. Make the extra effort to encourage them and try and include them; maybe that’s all they need.
Quick side note, please communicate if you can’t finish something or are stuck or need help. When you work with other people you have to communicate else nothing will get done and everybody will not be able to help. Side note two if you need help in any way not just with school there are so many people that want to help and are willing to help… YOU ARE NEVER ALONE.
Okay, teams, I get to work on a pretty cool project that I will be telling you(my audience) about as we go along but that is for a different week. My team consists of our project sponsor who I really like and is knowledgeable and is an effective communicator which I believe is going to be a huge asset to our team. There are also three other students on the team with me, and I like them they all seem like good guys and people that want to work together. I was greatly encouraged after our first meeting and am looking forward to working with them as we go along.
Teams are what you make of them. Communicate with them, support them, encourage them, help them, challenge them, really every time you interact with somebody on a team you have the chance to improve the opinion of team or group projects. Teams are so you don’t have to do something alone, you get to work with them. No matter what you want to do there are going to be people involved. Try and leave the people around you better for having worked with you.
“Leave every town better than you found it” Mollmauke Tealeaf
Or in my case Leave every team better than you found it.