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Young Professionals - Don’t Get Offended When Someone Shows You a Different Way

When a helpful teammate wanted to steer me back on track, rather than be grateful for their advice - I took offense. - Guest Blogger: Chandler Batts, Young Professional

I will never forget my first professional lesson in Humility - I was a brand new college graduate, and I had just started my career in corporate sales.

My very first sales meeting had me sitting at a large conference table with 15 or so other professionals, and I had a nervous excitement as I opened my laptop to prepare to take notes. I wanted to make a strong first impression, and I had always heard that by taking notes in meetings, you show that you respect the speaker or presenter.

Except, in this room of 15, mine was the only laptop open. In fact, I noticed rather quickly that I was getting sideways glances from my peers and more senior professionals in the room. As I clacked away taking notes, the staccato clicks of my keyboard seemed deafeningly loud by the relative silence around me. I looked around and saw that to a person, no one else had a laptop, but a pen and a paper notepad. One of my colleagues eventually leaned over and quietly said “Hey Chandler, I’d close the laptop if I were you. Take a sheet from my notepad instead, and next time leave the laptop back at your desk.”

In that moment, I felt a pang of pride - “Who was this person to tell me how to take notes? Didn’t they know that in college, everyone takes notes on a laptop? The pen and paper method is inefficient, your notes are hard to reference later, and it’s just so antiquated.”

What I didn’t understand is that the senior leader who was leading the meeting had very strong opinions on laptops in meetings, and felt that they presented more of a distraction and opportunity for wandering attention than they gave benefit. In fact, they had a rule that in any meeting they led, laptops were to be left in your bag or at your desk. Once I understood that, I never brought a laptop to a sales meeting again. And the funny thing is - I took better, more attentive notes, showed honor to senior leadership, and wound up being a strong performer on that sales team. Laptop not required.

Years later, I still remember this story. Not because it changed my thinking on laptops and notetaking (I still stand by my preference for typing over hand writing), but because it changed my thinking on Humility in a professional setting. I thought that I knew how to best show respect to my leadership, when in fact I was showing just the opposite by unknowingly defying their rule. And when a helpful teammate wanted to steer me back on track, rather than be grateful for their advice - I took offense.

That’s the thing with pride - when we think we know what’s best, we ignore those around us to our detriment. Humility means “believing and acting like ‘it’s not about me.’” It means not insisting on things going your own way, but rather asking others for their perspective, and then flexing your preferences to show them honor. Building this habit early in your career will take you far - much further than thinking you always know best.

Through the last few years, I (Dave) have watched Chandler grow into a young Leader of Character in the workplace and at home. He never backs down from his values, but he is flexible in his approach. He is a great model for me - in my 50’s - and young professionals - in their 20’s - like Chandler. Young professionals face many challenges at this point in their careers. Chandler’s Humility, willingness to be coached, and his desire to do the right thing, makes him one of the young leaders I would follow.

Chandler Batts graduated from Texas A&M University in 2015. Since then, he has been setting records in every company in which he worked. He’s led by example in local companies and in some of the world’s largest corporations. He is currently a Talent Acquisition Partner at Pacific Life. Chandler is a proud husband and father. Learn more:


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