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My MDE (Management Development Experience) Journey Blog

Step 1: Signing up

When I first heard about the MDE programme at Adidas I was one year into my new role as a color and material footwear designer. At first glance watching the videos and reading the material that explained what the process of MDE was and what was expected I was nervous. I was unsure if I would be 'good' enough to be apart of the programme and the videos left a feeling of a pit iof anxiety in my stomach, I knew I had to at least try this challenge while juggling my workload. A favourite ethos of mine is that brave people are not not scared, they just do it that is what I did. I hit the sign up button (despite every anxious thought telling me to not) and then informed my manager and my anxiety did not lessen but I felt proud for not letting fear get the better of me.

This is a reflection on my MDE journey and what I have learnt along the way.

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Step 2: Developing a growth mindset...

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The first challenge...

The first lesson and experience with the MDE programme was to learn more about growth mindsets, essentially helping to educate on how we can re-programme our brains responses to hurdles, challenges and situations so that we are able to grow instead of struggle. While I have always believed that I was open to challenges and experiences the first lesson really went into depth on the various ways a fixed mindset can be triggered and how this can limit you.

I reflected on my triggers. I am triggered to not easily cheer on or celebrate my own success (both big and small) and that this limits my growth as I refuse to even see it. Another key trigger was how we compare ourselves to others, in a world of social media it is easy to fall into a comparison mindset and this then stunts the opportunity for growth. Working in a creative based job, you naturally meet and follow other artists in various disciplines and you compare, this in turn can create triggers such as "I will never be that talented" or "I will only fail" but that is not the truth or the best mindset for growth. The growth mindset workshop really helped me to see my triggers but also how to change the narrative on those mindsets. Such as from comparison to finding inspiration. Over the last year while in MDE I have made sure to reflect on my responses to situations or my approach to new activities and challenges, knowing your triggers also allows you to work on changing them into positives.

At the end of the workshop on day 1, we were asked to pick a health based activity and to do it everyday for 30 days. I chose to do the challenge of yoga for 30 days. I chose yoga as I wanted an activity that would force me to focus on myself, in silence (or little amounts of noise). I managed to practice yoga nearly everyday for 30 days, I think I missed maybe 2-3 days in total.

Over the 30 days I reflected each week, and what I felt and could see in changes to myself and my mindset were amazing.

I used a netflix yoga routine to encourage me to stick with yoga, this was in part as I needed a routine to follow as I was new to the practice. It also helped to change  my arrival home into productive as the TV being on became a chance for me to reflect and steady myself, instead of hang out on the sofa. At the start of every yoga practice the coach would ask "what is your intention for today?" and I would audibly tell myself what I wanted to achieve; to free my mind, to relax and sometimes to simply stretch. Your breathe was also an important and key moment in the yoga practice, as you learn to breathe into your edges and find yourself able to go deeper and deeper the more steady control you could keep in breathing. I took this practice into my work life. On days filled with back to back meetings or intense work deadlines I would pause and breathe deeply and re-focus my mind, my intention...and clarity would follow. And my favourite part of the routine was always the positions which made you feel like you are surrendering to the world around you. Stress, anxiety, annoyance, anger...whatever had happened that day, in those 'surrendering poses' such as Childs Pose, those emotions would all wash away.

I felt lighter, more focussed, energised, ultimately ready for the next day while honouring the one I was finishing, whether good or bad. Everyday I would wake up feeling more refreshed and feeling more present in the moment during the days at work.

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Step 3: The 'Live' Workout...

We were then asked to pick 3 'live workouts' which would encourage us to seek out role models, talk with our peers and to help us grow now through a more business lense. I chose the live workouts of; asking for and receiving feedback, influencing others with impacting stories and creating inclusive environments. After meeting role models and researching the topic on all 3, which included a mixture of ted talks, articles and peer to peer discussion I decided to focus on the asking and receiving feedback live workout. 

The topic of asking for and receiving feedback was one of real interest, while the key to growth is to recieved feedback. This workout really dived into the topics of how to be in the right frame of mind to receive feedback but also how to make it a less daunting task, after all we are all scared to be told where we can improve. I met with a colleague from work who I felt embodied the practice of being able to receive feedback in a very constructive almost elegant way. We discussed for 45 minutes the art of asking for and receiving feedback in which she shared her tips on how she felt was best to approach others with this action. I then set about the scary task of asking 3 of my colleagues for feedback sessions, face to face....which is well nerve wrecking... 


To allow them time to prepare I put the questions I would be asking in the meeting invite. The topic of leadership was a huge part of the conversation, where I could improve but also we discussed what leadership meant, a topic which really peeked my interest as in my current role I do not have any direct reportees and the topic of how I am then a leader was key in the discussion. Overall the conversations were amazingly constructive and all with my best if you are scared of asking for feedback, I encourage you to do really builds a new dynamic to your relationships with stake holders. The summery of this live workout experience is below;

On reflection of the asking for and receiving feedback live workout, I think it is safe to say it is a daunting exercise to do but I felt a real sense of trust built within my team, I also was able to express my feelings and ask for clarity on topics where needed. The conversations themselves I think in my mind were always going to be worse than they ever could be...proving that my trigger of how I view myself and compare to others is not how others see me and by being open to discuss and find out more about how I can improve. In fact, a lot of the conversations would end in the topic of what leader I want to be, which is empowering and not something to be scared of. So I think thats 2/2 on doing something that scares you...and then being very proud and glad to have done it, I left every feedback session with a smile on my face.

Step 4: Reflection...

The MDE process was at times, very challenging...but also very worthwhile pursuing. I feel I have gained a greater understanding of myself and others and how to continue my growth in my mindset and my career and even in my personal life. 

Through the process I have met and connected with many people from all around the Adidas company globally, and it has been amazing to meet people who work in different parts of the brand to me. To hear their MDE journey and their success and struggles we can celebrate and overcome together.

My key learnings are the below:

There is success in failure...

To grow is to continue to fail, and embrace that failure will be apart of every experience you do. I also learnt how to grow deeper from what I consider a failure and change the narrative to I am not there yet!

Success is built in baby steps, not leaps

The MDE programme, workouts, practices all showed me that success is built through baby steps and not in giant leaps. Every small success will build into a bigger success. Also the key to success is discipline and action over perfection. No one ever starts perfect at anything :)

Change is scary, but do it scared...

Not to sound too cliche, but this entire process started because I hit a sign up button while terrified. I created the change but whether we make the change or the changes are happening to is scary...but do it scared, every challenge and experience will shape and help you to grow. Embrace the fear, feel it, all the way to your stomach (sometimes) and then do it anyway.

I found inspiration in a abundance of others...

This is a very personal topic, but I have never often found role models in life. MDE introduced me to others who inspired but also helped me to reflect on myself and what I seek from a role model so I could find them. And I hope I can inspire like how I have been inspired.

Celebrate yourself...(and others)...

Again another personal mentality change for me. I have always been very celebrating of others and their success, but MDE helped me reflect on myself and my growth and encouraged me to re-think how I value success and what a success is. And now going forward I will celebrate myself. I am proud of myself!

This is not the end...just the beginning

Another cliche, but while my MDE journey is officially ending...the lessons and changes I have made in my thinking from this process will remain (and some grow further - of course) while I go forward into the rest of my journey. I will remain curious and open minded to learning and growing. In fact, from this experience I have grown in confidence (or more so a lesser fear of failure) to pursue new actives years ago I would have said "are not for me" such as running, stating my own short story book, learning to carve lino prints...and hopefully more in the future.

I have also reflected on a change in how I handle 'failure' which once would have made me crumble and quit now just motivate me to continue, to learn, to network more and to surrender to things I cannot control, and empower myself to the things I can. Making sure my energy and passions are not lost.

Thank you to Adidas for the programme, to my manager for the encouragement to join (even while scared), to my learning partners I met on the way, to everyone on the MDE course for creating safe spaces for reflection, and thank you to myself a year ago for signing up. 

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