It’s not that unusual for people to cry when they work with me. Stopping the daily busy-ness and task-focused activities to pause, reflect and to think well can often bring things to the surface that people hadn’t noticed were there. Our always-on and busy lives lead us to sweep things under the carpet and carry on with an “it’s all fine” and “I’m fine” face on. Sometimes a client’s upset is “normal level” upset, sometimes it’s a symptom of medically-recognisable anxiety for which they need different help than I can provide. And when I say anxiety, don’t picture “jibbering mess, barely able to function”. Instead picture the reality which is genuinely what’s in front of me – capable, confident leaders who are very skilled at what they do and who are able to hide their anxious turmoil REALLY well.
“I feel like a washing machine – everything’s churning round and yet it’s going nowhere.”
“I feel like I’m sinking in it all.”
“This isn’t sustainable.”
These things I’ve heard from leaders I’ve worked with. Men and women who feel swamped. It could be they’ve stepped up into an MD or CEO role where they’re suddenly in the most exposed position they’ve ever known, without development through their transition. Or budgets are cut in in the “reduce costs to maximise profits” race, removing more people from the structure than there are systems or processes to compensate for. Or businesses that have grown so fast, piling the work on those who are there, without stopping to review what’s actually needed to grow sustainably. And sometimes it’s not even any of that. It’s just that sometimes life throws a load of stuff at us all at once – from home, from work, from relationships… and it can be overwhelming.
I’ve been making more use of visualisation and metaphor in my one-to-one Exec Coaching work recently. It’s something that’s been in my toolkit for a couple of years but I’ve had a recent flurry of successes with it and so I thought I’d share them in case it could be helpful or interesting to you.
Last week I attended the Barefoot Winter Conference at Prestwold Hall (beautiful location – and yes I’m slightly biased because it’s where I got married!). This post is a collation of my thoughts and reflections from the day which I know will help me learn and absorb, and which I hope will have some nuggets of interest and insight for you.
We moved house on Monday! We’ve been living with my mum for over 7 months – she’s definitely gone above and beyond the job description! Now that we have our own place again I popped to a large wholesale store yesterday to stock up on exciting things like kitchen towel and loo roll. This is the second big batch of kitchen towel I’ve bought in my life – 20 in a pack!! #awesome When I used to buy 2 or maybe 4 rolls at a time I would save it for real necessity, using it only when it really felt like the best thing to use. Otherwise reaching for a cloth. Since switching my shopping habits my attitude to kitchen-towel-use has changed*. There’s something about knowing you have a bountiful supply of absorbent paper available that makes you free and easy with its use. Split some milk there, no problem, let me wipe it with some kitchen towel. Red wine on the carpet, no worries, kitchen towel will soak that right up.
Think of yourself at work and how it feels right now.
If you imagine you’re in a box at work, what would that box be like?
Are you in a roomy box with space to spread yourself out and change position?
Are you cramped in a box that you feel you could burst out of any minute?
Do you remember once feeling like you could burst out and now you feel like you’ve shrunk to fit inside?
How often have you seen or heard this?
They’re just no good at their job, I keep having to pick up the slack? I haven’t got time to do my own work because they’re incapable of doing their’s. If only they could sort it out we’d all be better off. I don’t even know why they’re still here – they don’t contribute anything.
One post by Phil got me thinking. Especially the bit to do with happiness, so these are my thoughts as I’ve got them out and onto ‘paper’…..
“I’d like a Ferrari and a mansion without having to pay anything for them” was my son’s proclamation tonight which led on to his question of “why do we have money?”.
So I talked about how things evolved from bartering with goods, to coins and then the economy as we know it today (or at least in my simplistic understanding of it).
“Mummy am I Muslim or Hindu?”
“Neither darling, you don’t really have a religion.”
“So can I choose what I am?”
“Yes you can!”
“Oh good! That means I can marry Shey and be a Muslim. My teacher said that if one person doesn’t have a religion they can marry anyone and be the same as them.”