It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day challenges at work. Maybe this week it is a reorganization of your division or a new office policy. Perhaps there are too many deadlines for projects and not enough hours in the week or too many deliverables and not enough budget. You may be in a place where you’re seeking more inspirational work, or are facing challenges with motivating yourself in the eleventh hour. Wherever you are right now, it’s very easy to lose sight of the fact that…
You are part of something bigger!
You may not even realize how much bigger. Many of us work in a very small community of Arcadians with a small circle of clients. This gives us the “Cheers” feeling (You know? “Where everybody knows your name”), but may also create borders that are hard to cross, or borders that you may not even realize are there. The Global Shapers experience very quickly broke all those borders down. Suddenly, we were all working together with over 100 new Arcadians spanning a wide spectrum of languages, personality types, cultures, religions, regions, divisions and job titles. And they all had different experiences to share.
Cue the music!
♪ ♪ “I got this feeling inside my bones.
It goes electric, wavy when I turn it on.” ♪ ♪
My first observation was that all of this year’s Global Shapers were full of energy and committed to making a difference. The minute we all began arriving in Doha, there were contagious smiles, non-stop welcomes and handshakes, and plenty of volunteers to share their feelings, expectations and goals for the week. Everyone was there, present, undistracted throughout the week – something rarely accomplished in the office where we all wear many different hats balancing work responsibilities. The energy continued throughout the week and through the late nights when everyone came back to the table after dinner celebrations to see our projects through, working every moment up until the Grand Final. I still feel a spark of inspiration each time “Can’t Stop the Feeling” plays on the radio.
My ultimate learning experience came from working side-by-side with Ashghal (Qatar’s Public Works Department). For a week, I stepped outside my engineering tool box to focus on motivating staff through a Mentorship Program. I learned that Ashghal’s staff are motivated in a very different way than my colleagues and myself. While we (in North America) are motivated by job titles, salary increases and progression up career pathways, Ashghal’s staff are motivated by nationalistic pride and the future success of Qatar. We were awestruck for a few minutes at this epiphany. Learning to see the world for a week through Ashghal’s eyes gave us a broader view we will carry with us going forward.
Experiencing Something New… Together
Tuesday night we took some time off from developing new tools to share a new experience together. “No no no…” as our Qatari driver drove up to the edge of a giant sand dune and began slowly creeping up to the side. Phew! He drove down slowly, and once at the bottom we watched the other SUVs (there were 35 total!) coming down the sand dune in the Doha desert. We watched the sun set in the desert, shared some local BBQ (not at all like we make it in Texas!), and had an Open Circle sharing our experiences and plans for the rest of the week before heading back to the hotel to get some more work done. Thank you to all of my new Global Shaper friends for sharing this once-in-a-lifetime experience with me, and thank you to the Organizing Team for doing what you do best – figuring out how to get 35 SUVs into the desert!
While in Doha, I began creating bridges to new circles of Arcadians. Now back home, I’m sharing these connections with my colleagues. I connected with the Executive Board and learned what their goals are and what their career paths have looked like. I met with Jim Ford, our new Global Director of Client Development who sits in Chicago, Illinois. We discussed a company he is working with and a new product they have developed. This conversation has continued bringing in the leaders of our water and wastewater teams. I also met our Middle East Client team. Our Middle East team welcomed us all to Doha and shared their Water Mega Reservoir project with us through a site visit during the week (shout out to Freek Matheij, Ben Khan and Jack Overkamp for organizing). Following the program, I connected an expert from the US with our Middle East team, and discussions are beginning about teaming opportunities!
The possibilities are limitless with the vast capabilities and knowledge our fellow Arcadians have across the globe. I think our very fortunate challenge is understanding how to harness and funnel our shared experience into the best results for our clients and for our staff. I challenge all my colleagues to Think Globally, to make lasting connections that continue to grow, and to seek opportunities to break down those borders
Global Shaper: Generation 2016