A few days ago, my boss told me that he admired how knowledgeable I was. I joined Lazada just one year ago yet according to him, I knew so many details that I looked like an e-commerce expert already. I only smiled, not so much flattered since I already heard similar compliments from many other else a few times before. And everytime people ask me the secret behind it, all that I can think of is that one night a few years ago.
That day, I was almost one year working for my previous employer. I had an assignment from headquarter office that I needed to complete right away. It was just a simple sales report per product category, yet somehow, I kept making mistakes over and over again. The Group CFO was waiting for that report and I seemed to piss her off.
A few hours later, after so many reworks from my end, that report was finally done. And then before I went home, I received a new e-mail from my direct boss; the local CFO. That one e-mail that I never thought I would ever have in my inbox.
So apparently, that Group CFO sent another e-mail to my boss without putting me in the CC. She told my boss that I was technically good but I clearly needed to learn more about our Company. She advised my boss to guide me more about the industry, the product, the way it worked in another division… In short, that e-mail really made me feel like I was not good enough.
Knowing that my boss let me read that painful e-mail gave me the idea that he approved the Group CFO’s statement about my performance. And no kidding, it was just like a slap on my face! I had worked so hard to fix so many things but turned out I was not good enough just because I couldn’t identify the difference between one products with another. Seriously… was it for real?
Yes, at the beginning, I was angry. I did apologize to my boss, but deep in my heart, I was so upset. But then I asked myself… How could I fail such simple task? What was the root cause? It took me quite some times to get there, but I finally admitted that my bosses were right. It was not about me being stupid, it was just that I didn’t put so much effort to learn about the business my company engaged.
That one short e-mail has finally changed the way I work. It’s not only me and my division, it’s about me and the whole company. Even though I’m not a salesperson, I still need to understand the products we sell. How can I analyze the product profitability without knowing the specifications? I also don’t work in Ops team, but how can I make a business process improvement if I have no clue on their daily procedures? At the end of the day, that shocking e-mail has contributed one new key strength on my performance.
Apart from learning the importance of in-depth business understanding, what happened that day has made me learn one other most important rule to live by: good critics is not comforting, but it’s certainly building a better us inside. That’s simply a process on being a grown-up: you make mistake and you learn from it. Cursing and telling the world that you did nothing wrong while clearly you’ve just made a terrible mistake will bring you nowhere. You will only repeat the same mistake over and over again.
Finally, all that I can say that there’s no top achiever on earth that was as good as they are today in their very first day working a few years back. They all started on the same line with their colleagues, but their efforts to always make an improvement and their willingness to learn from their mistakes were simply the things that brought their careers up to the next levels. You don’t need to be born genius, you only need to have that one big heart to tell yourself that you can be wrong.
Let’s make mistake, learn from it, and have an awesome Monday!