Sometimes the role of a coach is to help leaders to put things into perspective. To see things more clearly than they would on their own.
Before we start, how are you?
Now, stop for a moment.
When people ask you that question, how do you answer?
In my culture we tend to answer automatically with a "Fine, thanks. You?". We often don't pay attention to the question, or the answer. It is simply a type of greeting.
Coaches take more interest in what happens in the space between a question like that and the answer. We try to observe the tone of voice, the distractedness, the facial expressions, the body language and even the way the interaction makes us feel.
All of this is useful information to help us to better understand how people really are.
Of course this varies from person to person, session to session and day to day. But the more we ask and the more we listen and the more we pay attention to what comes next, the more we notice patterns. Clues as to how we are all feeling. Collectively.
After all, we're all one human society, community and family. Everyone is connected.
One pattern I have observed in the last couple of years is that, on some level, many people are not as okay as they might be, even if they say they are "fine".
When questioned more deeply we find that this is because of big things that are happening in the world that are beyond their control. Things like:
the climate emergency
the cost of living crisis
the rise of foodbanks and homelessness.
We're all feeling it. Whether or not any one of these things impacts us directly. And that feeling is weighing us down, making us not okay.
Making us feel powerless.
With that in mind, this is the first of two posts designed to help you reframe that in your mind so that you can regain some power and feel better. It is based on a simple statement that I want you to remember:
Never say you are stuck in a traffic jam, say you are part of a traffic jam.
How does this help?
Well, first ask yourself if that's how you see things when you pull into a line of rush-hour traffic?
The honest answer is that we tend to see that the people in front of us are causing our delay. Someone else (or some other people) are causing the traffic jam.
But looked at from above, you are equally responsible for it. If you were not there at that time, you'd be out of the way of everyone else.
After all, just like everyone else, you could have cycled, walked, caught the bus, set off at a different time or made any number of other choices to reduce your contribution to the traffic jam, couldn't you?
But, did you? Or did you get frustrated and angry and wait for someone else to solve the problem? Did you feel powerless?
Once you realise that you are an equal part of the traffic jam (just as you are an equal part of the climate emergency), you realise that you have choices. You can choose to do something about the situation. You might:
accept it and stop being angry
breathe through it and wait for it to pass
call a friend (hands free) and make a human connection
look out of the window and enjoy the view
distract yourself with music or a podcast
make a plan to do something different tomorrow.
All big changes start with millions of tiny acts that compound and accumulate into the change we want to see.
So do something.
Because, whatever you do, you'll be in control. And that's a powerful feeling 🚦💪