Leading a team is hard enough on its own. Add any life event to the mix, and it gets harder.

In many ways, transitioning on the job and in a leadership role has been a complete breeze. I've found myself fortunate to be surrounded by caring and open minded people. Of the 138 people I came out to (including family), I only had one person react negatively. Now you might think that because I'm Transgender, I probably hang out with like minded people who are very liberal, but this is not true. Many of the best responses that I received were from friends who do not contain even an ounce of liberal belief within them.

I was nervous enough worrying about coming out to my own team and I feel like I subconsciously failed them. How you ask? I started putting people into buckets. I was sure X team member would quit because they are a staunch republican. I once overheard a joke made by Y team member that made me feel I was going to be a target after I came out. After coming out, X called me directly and asked if I needed anything and to tell me that they supported me 100%. Y immediately asked if I'd ever offended them (I did not remind them of the joke they told a few weeks earlier), and they too offered their support.

I learned a valuable lesson from that part of my experience: Putting people into buckets is not useful, it is however, incredibly harmful. Through introspection, I realize the obvious source of my bias. "The media" has been working incredibly hard to divide us for years. Every issue has become polarized and it's tearing apart the fabric of society. I learned that the tough facade that many present with regards to their political and religious beliefs are not polarized, and that most people have a lot of mixed ideas about their own reality. I knew this was true at an earlier point in my life, but I lost it somewhere along the way. The number one lesson I learned about coming out was that people have a lot of gray area, and to stop participating in the trap of making everything a binary problem in a world filled with hexadecimal viewpoints.

Everyone we meet has something to teach us. Don't forfeit your chance to learn because of preconceived notions.