Lighten up, for goodness sake !

Working with teams is always a great privilege. Not only do I get to meet some interesting people, but I also get the opportunity to learn a bit about their lives, and how they build their “map of the world”. And when we meet regularly over 9 to 12 months (as is happening more often now) I get to see things that they are otherwise unaware of. It’s awareness of these things that can have the biggest impact in changing the performance of a team too.

Frustrated? Cross? Angry!

Most recently I’ve been struck by how many people are frustrated, cross, or even angry, with almost everything and everyone around them. I can usually see the logic in their arguments, of course.

Often these stem from their need to be in control of what’s going on around them, which is a very natural behaviour: the brain like things that are predictable and it uses less energy when they are; that allows for “higher” brain activity which is more satisfying. (Read “Your brain at work” by David Rock for more details)

Equally, I think they are driving themselves to frustration by taking everything slightly too seriously. (A bit like the NLP question: “In what way are you annoying yourself…”)

Let’s look at a personal example: (When I’m providing executive coaching I prefer the first couple of sessions to be face-to-face. Sometimes this means driving for upto 2 hours.)

A personal example.

I once received a call from a client’s PA when I was 10 minutes away from their office to say that they were unable to meet me because there was something urgent to deal with.

Knowing that this person had deadline to get a board paper published for the next day, I concluded that they had just not put coaching high enough on their list of priorities and so now needed to spend their time on that activity instead. Although I still got paid (it was a less than 24-hour notice of cancellation) I was still frustrated and a bit angry. I even contemplated firing them. Seems understandable, doesn’t it? I know X and what happened is Y so Z must be true – leading myself to frustration etc etc.

But what if I was wrong? What if that “urgent” thing was a sick child, relative, or a personal tragedy? If I was to fire them in a fit of pique and later discover the actual truth, I’d feel very small and mean. And woe betide them finding out my thoughts! They would probably fire me!

Much as we’d like life to be linear and predictable, like everything else, it just isn’t. So why do we expect it to be so for other people ?

Seems to me we could all do with lightening up a bit.

That's all for today. If you've questions or comments, drop me a line below or get in touch.

About the Author Jonathan Rees

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