At Next Jump, every new hire goes through PLB – or “Personal Leadership Bootcamp.” PLB is a safe environment for new employees to identify their “backhand” – the thing that holds us back from reaching our full potential – and develop practice grounds to tackle it. David, a recent PLB graduate, shared his experience and reflection at our all-staff meeting (reproduced below).
Seventeen weeks ago, in the heat of a Manhattan summer, I started my PLB journey. It was a luxury to be able to concentrate on understanding my backhand and try to figure out solutions to my backhand. I was encouraged to be less cautious and practice boldly. Today, I would like to share several precious moments that stood out in my memory when I reflected on my PLB journey.
The moment that helped me identify my backhand actually traces back to my follow-up interview after my Super Saturday. I had a red flag on grit. In the follow-up, I was confronted with my lack of resilience that I hinted at and was detected during a previous interview. It was painfully true, which made that interview a very rewarding moment for me to gain awareness of my impedance. And it was deeply encouraging when I was accepted, even though I showed defects of my personality. This interview experience made me realize that my backhand was: “During uncomfortable or stressful situations, I tend to procrastinate or avoid, and have a negative outlook”. The experience also motivated me to change.
In PLB, I actively engaged in situations where I felt uncomfortable and stressful. I remember my heart racing when for the first time I picked up the phone to call a customer. After the call, a little piece of my insecurity and shyness was replaced by a satisfying feeling, knowing that I had helped someone and that their day got better because of me.
I also remember the walk home after the Halloween party, which turned out to be pretty ok despite my initial negative outlook. I was in complete relief and peace after some stressful days. But for a few seconds, I felt anger towards myself for stressing others out when I was thinking out loud all the things that were not working the day before the party without having a solution. Everyone in the meeting was more stressed because of me. At that moment, I knew I had a problem under stress. I also saw myself unable to accept imperfection, which partially caused my stress. After that, I pushed myself to share more, even though I might not feel confident with the outcomes.
The practices were rewarding. I remember the smile I had when Charlie called out my name for the reflection video on the Monday meeting after Academy. People turned back and looked at me before the video was played. I was mostly smiling out of embarrassment that I knew the video quality was pretty bad. But a little piece of me was also smiling out of pride that I didn’t shut down under stress, and presented something far from perfection, which is probably something unthinkable to the David before PLB.
Seventeen weeks seems like a long time for an on-boarding process. But as I just start to get the gist of it, seventeen weeks felt short, too short. I was talking to my TP Jiaxin last Wednesday, the night before our last check point. I said to her, “I feel I’m in the swamp of despair, I know I have to show progress in the check point tomorrow and I know there was lots of progress to show, but I want to show more weakness tomorrow so that I can get more feedback and help.” Of course, Jiaxin being my precious rationality judge all the time, stopped me from doing silly things and helped me to moderate my presentation and made it more logical and coherent. But in retrospect, I felt at that moment, I had grown accustomed to this trust among my TP, coaches, judges and me.
Unlike most other graduations, our PLB graduation is really a commencement as a Next Jumper. I can’t express my appreciation enough for everyone who helped me along the way, especially those who cared about my growth enough to spend the time to give me critical feedback. I am deeply grateful for the encouragement and the kind tolerance for the experiments I conducted during PLB, failed and successful. The most recent pieces of feedback that I received had one trend – I need to show more action that match my rhetoric, do more things. I agree with the feedback and I want to do exactly that. I look forward to the chapters to come after PLB.