I took over as the program manager for a multi-million dollar project the morning after my then-husband moved out. I woke up feeling a mix of shocked and defiant, and headed in to attend a full day of project meetings, as planned. I was the youngest program manager in the bunch. I had been hand-picked for my position. And I wasn’t going to let my personal crisis ruin the rest of my life.
I tell you that because the origins of this story are a little tangled.
I was entrusted with an incredible responsibility: More money than I had ever imagined I’d see in a lifetime. A team of experts who impressed me with their technical skills. And a requirement so tough it bordered on The Impossible. To say I was challenged is an understatement. And I was determined not to fuck it up.
I read everything I could get my hands on, about leadership and tech development and maximizing creativity. About team dynamics and communication and managing a boat-load of money.
Interspersed with all that, I dove deep into the self-help section. While I was coming up to speed on managing my program, I also had to manage myself and my demolished home-life. I read about well-being and self-worth and shame. About relationships and healing and growth.
There is a surprising (to me — at the time) overlap between self-help and leadership. Well-being and creativity. Team dynamics and relationships. They all started to weave together into one overarching theme: To get the best out of the program, I needed to unleash the best parts of the people working within the program. I needed to help them find the connection between what drives them and what we’re doing together. I needed to create an environment that encourages creative thinking. I needed to protect them from overwhelm and burnout and shame. I needed to keep us learning from successes and failures. And I needed to turn every single one of those principles back around and apply them to me.
I needed to become my best, so that I could be the best at helping everyone in the program show up as their best, whatever that might be.
I was particularly influenced by The Desire Map by Danielle LaPort - so much so that I became a Licensed Facilitator of her program - and Mastery by Robert Greene. Their suggestions that we first look inward, to uncover our core desires and interests, before we seek to act outward made a lot of sense to me. Their work was the first time in my life that I had asked myself how I want to feel and what I enjoy learning, before deciding what I should do next. Taking that introspective first step changed everything: how I make decisions, where I focus my energy, how I show up every day.
I layered in everything I know about designing experiments and integrating new information — from my physicist past — and the power of short-duration sprint cycles — from my tech development present — and topped it all off with insights from years working to improve my health.
I’m so impressed by how beautifully these strategies work to maximize performance -- for myself and for my team -- that I have become a bit of an evangelist, sharing the hows and whys of our success. And frankly, I'm also a little jealous. I wish I would have learned sooner to prioritize my core desired feelings and establish a path to self-mastery. I wish I would have known earlier how to enhance my mental clarity and creativity. I wish that I could share this information more broadly and help every person seeking to solve a hard problem and accomplish The Impossible design an authentic and inspiring path to their own success.
That last wish? I granted myself: Tailored Output was born in a Las Vegas hotel room on June 21, 2015.