The Coach's Corner

Wait…what?

The Coach’s Corner Newsletter #30

These paphiopedilums, also known as slipper orchids for their defined pouches, just bloomed over the holidays and we’ve been enjoying their amazing beauty every single day. Once the blooms of this variety of orchids is finished, it will take another year for a spike to emerge where the blooming cycle will begin again.

A year!

This concept of waiting, so common in nature and for any who cherish indoor plants or outdoor gardens, is often one we neglect in our professional and personal lives.

Throughout the past few weeks I got used to going online and ordering something and receiving the product within days or hours. So to have to wait for something can be very challenging.

Yet I’m reminded of what happens when you stop forcing an issue, resist pressing for that promotion or even sit in silence when the noise is deafening. You become part of a sometimes long journey where the events along the way – rather than the destination – become benchmarks in your progress.

 

THIS WEEK’S INSIGHT

Some things just take time

For the past 18 months, Joe and I have partnered together in a consistent coaching relationship. When we began, he was thriving as a senior director at a financial institution and wanted to excel in how he communicated with his team. He was stumped by how often his team mis-interpreted what he felt was a clear message. We explored how he relates to his ‘audience,’ the expectations he lays out, measures of success and how he holds himself and his team accountable.

A few months into our coaching engagement, he got word that his position was being eliminated and he had six months to find other work within or outside the organization. He was devastated. Our work together took on a different perspective.

Once Joe acknowledged his disappointment and fear of the unknown he was ready to begin. He started by clarifying what he really wanted. He outlined a role he felt would be ideal for him, what kinds of projects he wanted to work on and where he believed his skillsets could be most beneficial.

As soon as he was clear, he felt the insecurities creeping in. “Why is my cross-functional partner getting interviews, and I’m not,” he lamented in one session. That’s when we turned to how he was taking care of himself, without comparison. What did he need to do to make himself more attractive to another department? Turning his attention to what he wanted to do instead of comparing himself with the results of anyone else gave him more energy.

Because he felt like he had no choice except to find a new position he felt there was so much out of his control. So we examined where he did have control. He recognized his daily routine was solid – and so he leaned into how he implemented exercise, nutrition, work, breaks and a sense of community with his family and in his neighborhood. He regained his sense of influence in his own life, which could be extended into his search.

Our sessions focused on how he was experiencing an easing up of the pressure on himself when he regularly communicated his fears and doubts with close friends and in our sessions. He knew he had the tools to work through what he was facing because he had identified what he wanted. As he voiced his frustration and then paused, he would find his footing and choose what to do next.

That’s when he arrived one afternoon and shared a doc with me. It was a spreadsheet targeting each milestone he’d hit in this search. That included people he was reaching out to, meetings that were set up, projects he was proposing and a plan for how to handle a ‘failure.’

He recognized any ‘failure’ meant he was in the game and hadn’t given up. That energized him to discover ways to notice what was going well in his life. His family was behind him, he approached this job search as a top priority and the relationships he’d built over the years led to connections he could never have imagined.

Nearing the six month target he was given by his org, Joe received two significant job offers. He wrestled with the pros and cons and settled on an opportunity with an offer that was even more lucrative than his previous position. Five months into his new role, he shared that waiting was more powerful than he thought possible, “If I’d jumped at the first thing, I’d have missed out on what I have now.”

THIS WEEK’S TOOL

How to wait in six steps

Using Joe’s experience, I’d like to share with you how he found his stride as he worked and waited. None of this was easy. Every step was important. What might change for you when you consider waiting from this perspective?

1.     Be clear about what you want.

Know what you’re waiting for and what it takes to get there. Set up a strategy to follow through on who to go to for support, where to engage and how to communicate.

2.     Nurture yourself.

Water your own garden, instead of comparing your situation to what’s happening to others around you. This retains the energy for what you are building.

3.     Create a routine.

When that thing you want is beyond your reach, having consistency in other areas of your life can empower you. A routine is something in your control.

4.     Reach out to trusted friends/mentors/coaches.

This is a challenging time in your life. Open up by expressing your doubts, fears and uncertainties – and then decide how you want to move forward.

5.     Track every milestone on this journey.

Since you’re clear on what you want, notice every time there’s a shift – even a slight one – and mark it down. Every single step will get you closer to what you’re waiting for.

6.     Count your blessings.

What is it that brings you joy every morning? How did you make it through the afternoon? When you close out for the evening, what one thing made you laugh?


My takeaway

In my personal life I’m a fermenter. I make kefir, kombucha and sourdough on a regular basis. This process forces me to wait for each step of the recipes to take hold.

These daily and weekly regiments include timing, smell, weight, touch and feel that let me know my product is on target and will taste delicious. Miss a step, things collapse. Literally.

Yes, I like to get out and be spontaneous. I get a rush when I can order a gift for someone and have it arrive that day. It’s why I jump rope and ride a bike – I don’t have to wait on anyone for my physical activity.

Still, for so much of life and work, things don’t always happen instantaneously. And I have come to appreciate what it means to be present, even if being present means waiting.

For snow. For blossoms. For the heat of summer. For the transition of fall.

While I don’t seek out things to do that will require me to wait, when I’m called upon to wait I’m ready. Many thanks to Anne Lammott for sharing this gem,

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.

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