“Overcoming My Stubbornness to be Right”: John’s PLB Journey

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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. John shared his journey with us on learning about his stubbornness to be right and how it’s affected both himself and those around him.


My PLB journey kind of started within the interview process. I think—and Rachel can attest to this—during my Super Saturday, I believed I was “on fire”. All throughout the day I was getting great feedback except for one, which was from John Hilliard. He ran my No-LHF interview. When I got here [Next Jump full time], I found the recruiting app, and I was trying to look at what I got. He wrote right here, “I think that John had a very hard time being totally honest. He had a hard time thinking critically about himself… When I directly gave him some feedback, that felt like he kind of ran the show. I’m not really sure we got to the truth.” That was kind of weird for me; I think I’m a team player, at least I try to be.

I think the funniest part is above that, in my profile, it says 100% arrogant. It’s ironic because when I looked at my PLB process and how I came in, I said to myself, “I’m coming in open-minded and I’m coming in to improve”. And those were the two biggest mistakes I could make. The first one was I believed in my heart of hearts I was open-minded and I was like, “I’m going to take everything…I’m going to make it mine and I’m going to get better”. Because then if something comes across to me that I did not agree with, which a lot of it did, I said well why isn’t this good enough? You know, I’m open-minded, why wasn’t this thing good enough? And second, I looked at it in a sense of needing to improve rather than failing well—rather than struggling through this journey and taking out what I can from it.

So through that, Stephanie touched on this skepticism, but for the first three checkpoints I was diving deeper and deeper into the swamp. It was a fear of a lack of structure that I had—I wanted to come in and, exactly like Keith, be told what to do. And it’s never like that. It’s so unique for everyone that no one can give you the right answer. And I hated that, you know. I think my turning point, which is thematic through all of this, is during my checkpoints, I would get feedback from the judges and then from the audience. The judges would really dive in. They’d see at least a level deeper. I’d be like, “this is awesome, I can work through this.” And the audience was not that; it was more like “tough to read, hard to understand, can’t really get it.” And, our favorite one is “dive deeper and reflect.”  Dive deeper and reflect. How to dive deeper? Where to reflect? It’s such a hard thing that we almost made a joke out of it, but that is where I learned my biggest shortcoming was, is looking at people who couldn’t give me what I need and saying, why can’t you do that? It’s the idea that when you see a pattern within a group and they can’t help you, that means you’re doing something wrong. It’s not to look at it and go, for example, in Super Saturday, this is all great except one. Now I can discount the one. Or with the judges, here’s feedback that can help me, but the audience doesn’t. So you just look at the judges’.

What I think I’m working on—what is really shifted—is understanding that I have a stubbornness to be right. It’s something I was raised into and in my nature—I believe it’s also there—is this want to be right and not be wrong. But I think what it extends into is having others around me be right. And the biggest issue with that is it takes away a space to fail from myself and from others. Especially in my TP relationship. It’s been hard…I think why it got better in the last two rounds is because I stepped back a bit. For the first three I was like, “all right Keith, I’m going to help you. We’re gonna get through this together.” And through that I realized I was just projecting outward, not looking at myself and not working on myself.

Where I think I’ve grown a lot and where we’ve grown a lot is being able to fail. Being able to let people help you. It’s a really long journey. I don’t think I’m anywhere near perfect and in fact to show that I’m not, is within this academy, where there was a lot that went right. A lot of team building, a lot of communication, a lot of transparency. But the one thing that sticks out to me is, one night we had this soundcheck late at night. I had thought everything was handled. I was irritated. I was in a bad mood and I come over and I’m like, “Richie, what are you doing? Cut it out. You can’t do that. There might be people here,” all that stuff. And I looked at that, I was like, this is everything wrong. And the best part was that because Richie and I are so close, because we have a good team with our hands [core team members], he looked at me…he said, “go home John, go home right now and trust me that I’ll get it done,” because he knows that I want to control. That I want to win and I want to be right for myself and those around me and he knows that and is helping me. I think the bigger I expand my circle, the more help I’ll get, and the more that I’ll grow.

I think that’s what PLB was for me: to understand that I don’t always have to be right and I can build a team around me to be right when I cannot. With that I’d like to say thank you so much to my coaches and thank you so much to the Boston office and Next Jump.

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