The most frustrating feedback to receive is the vague “Push yourself.”
Because when you’re working the longest hours you can, when you dream about deadlines and your friends have stopped calling but someone tells you to push yourself — that’s just offensive, isn’t it?
But pushing yourself isn’t about bringing in more hours, or hitting more deadlines. It’s about bringing the best out of yourself — and the people you’re with.
Sociologist Sam Richards discusses the elements of imagining ourselves as “the other” in his TED talk “A Radical Experiment in Empathy.” How, if we can become, even for a moment, the insurgent in Iraq, or the coal miner in middle America, we can become our teammates. We can get a moment of insight.
This concept of empathy is a competitive advantage.
It’s the ability to recognize your teammates for their abilities, and to figure out what’s blocking them. To solve these conflicts, we need to know where they’re coming from, because solutions for people only come from looking into those people.