One of my favorite childhood games was Labyrinth, where you had to negotiate a metal ball along a tilting floor, trying to get it as far through the maze as possible without dropping it into one of the many holes along the way. OK, I’ll admit I still enjoy playing it…the focus it requires, the need for concentration, the complete lack of anything digital about the experience. It’s soothing, relaxing, and to me a bit of a parable of modern corporate life.
In your professional world, no matter how solid your footing may feel, no matter how meticulously you’ve planned your adventure, change is always in the air. We can control so little, and yet we fool ourselves into thinking we can keep it all lined up perfectly, safely away from every pothole.
Whether it’s a disruption in your industry, missteps by your company, or a major personal curveball like a serious medical diagnosis, external elements that can upend your plans are a constant possibility.
The question is, when “it” happens, whatever “it” may be, will it be a threat to you or an opportunity for you?
Every crisis provides a platform for personal reflection, a chance to step back and process, to look at situations in a different, perhaps less rosy, but often more realistic light.
Too many of us are just tolerating situations in the workplace, taking the easy way out by not reaching for that promotion, not starting that business, not making waves. When external elements force change, clarity can be a very powerful by-product.
To get there, you first have to breathe. Anxiety and outright fear about the disruption will be high. Slowing down and taking stock of the situation is key here. An outsider’s perspective, like that provided by an executive coach, is particularly valuable during times of crisis, because the coach can see the situation holistically, free of fear.
Disruption brings with it the possibility of failure. When I was diagnosed with cancer, I wasn’t focused on my own mortality and what I had to do to help myself get healthy. Instead, I was angry about how this awful disease could negatively impact my career! I was angry…at myself!
Blinded by this anger and blocking out the fear, I lashed out at others as well.
Resetting my priorities, doing what I needed to do to get myself healthy, and navigating through that dark period required a strong, objective outside voice, a coach who showed me how it was OK to be upset, but not OK to take it out on myself or my colleagues.
It was game-changing advice.
Some older clients tell me they wish they “knew then what I know now,” how they are in some ways jealous of their younger colleagues.
But the wisdom of experience trumps the gift of youth. The fact that they are proactively taking steps to make change, to get in touch with what really motivates them, to define or re-define what success means, puts them far ahead of the pack, regardless of age.
The great thing is you don’t need an externally driven crisis to begin this process of self-reflection. You can do the work while the waters are calm. It’s an ideal time, even. The only person standing in your way to be your best self is – you. Start with finding a co-pilot to help you navigate to better outcomes.