Reflections From Arjun Gokale

During the seesaw game, our group came up with a great plan to pass the challenge. After watching the first group succeed clumsily, I became even more confident that we would be successful. Geoff was first up and he hopped on the seesaw at the wrong angle. Alanna stated multiple times that we should stop and have Geoff correct his position before I got on. Geoff didn’t move and eventually I jumped up on the seesaw. Immediately, the seesaw fell on my side and Stewie 1 sustained a minor injury. Figuring that the game was over, I hopped back off the seesaw and Stewie 2 received major trauma. I was extremely upset at myself and as we got ready to try again, my confidence was completely shaken. We pushed through the challenge successfully, this time adhering to the plan. As the game wrapped up, I was still focused on the error I made and felt worse after Alanna mentioned during the follow-up questioning about how us not listening to her warnings made her upset.

I couldn’t figure out why I hadn’t listened to Alanna even though I had heard her clearly state multiple times that we shouldn’t move forward until Geoff corrected his position. I tried to think about it in terms of the culture issues we had learned about to that point. It wasn’t an issue of respect or hierarchy and I don’t think we had developed a culture of not listening to one another either or of discounting each other’s opinions. While Alanna wasn’t the designated team leader, we had all come up with a plan together and had respectfully listened to one another and incorporated everyone’s input. I began to think that maybe it was my ego and that I thought I was so talented that I could deviate from the plan and it wouldn’t matter. After all, team 1 succeeded while stumbling around, so jumping on the seesaw at the wrong angle didn’t seem like it would be a big deal. This explanation didn’t sit well with me because while I’m confident, I always try to put the team first and I don’t consider myself a loose cannon or someone who freelances.

The next days, as you talked about mindfulness and Paul discussed how task-oriented employees can unintentionally make their jobs more inefficient, I actually became a little relieved. The stories told fit better with the fact pattern and my thought process during the error. I became so focused on getting on the seesaw and completing my portion of the task, that I stopped thinking or being mindful of what was happening. My focus on the task overwhelmed my ability to appropriately consider Alanna’s warnings and to deviate with improvised steps as our plan was not being followed. Instead of taking a deep breath and myself telling Geoff to adjust his positioning, I thought too much about how I needed to be on the seesaw and ended up making a costly error. It was a great lesson for me to experience first hand, as I can now definitely understand how well-intentioned people can still make mistakes. At the end of this conference, I developed a deeper understanding of the issues I want to educate my peers at Wash U about. I was also instilled with a greater sense of urgency in implementing this curriculum and in the dire need to make sure my classmates understand the key issues that will affect ourselves as we move forward in our careers.

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