Monday, November 03, 2008

Just Perfect

I recently started with a new client, someone very high level in the organization and wasn’t sure what to expect as not only was she a new client but was new to the organization, so I hadn’t yet seen much of her in action.

As I usually do before starting my day Shadow Coaching™ my client is to see ongoing clients for a few moments for reality checks, scheduling, contracting and just to touch base. This organization is going through a major restructuring at all levels. Every department is short-staffed and on top of this, all the systems have to be changed to meet the growing needs. Their entire world is in a state of flux. Those in positions of leadership are doing twice the hours they were doing before to pick up the slack and to create a strategy for implementation of this giant re-org. Needless to say, tempers are short, people are burned out and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.

Strangely or wonderfully, I’m not sure which would be the most appropriate term, this one particular day seemed to be a turning point for me in my work because it was as if a switch was flipped and all of a sudden, many of my clients ‘got it.’ They realized why I was saying what I was saying and gave it back to me in spades.

When this re-org began and they weren’t quite sure which foot to put in front of which first, a couple of my clients were having a very rough time. In our sessions I turned to them, separately and at separate times and asked, “What is so perfect about this when it clearly isn’t?” One almost threw something at me and the other cracked up because he’s never quite sure what will come out of my mouth. It was the start of a long insightful conversation.

Well a few months have passed and here I was with this new client standing at the elevator to go to a meeting when one of my other clients asked me how my day was going. I smiled and said “Fascinating” because it was….but they always are! He started grinning and turned to me and asked “What is so perfect about it when it clearly isn’t?” I told him just being asked that made it absolutely perfect!

He got it. He knew what I was dealing with, new leadership and all, and although I love chaos and the unexpected, after all it’s my life in a nutshell, he knew I saw it as perfect, just as he started seeing his chaotic world. Because of the change in perception, he started having fun with the craziness. Bottom line is, if you can’t enjoy the most intense, unpredictable times and those times are going to be sticking around for a while, then get out because in the world we live in, things are no longer predictable, no matter if you’re at the top of the totem pole or the bottom.

When I got to the meeting room another client who was having a really rough day saw me 'Shadowing' my client and started smiling. When I asked why the smile? She said “I was just trying to figure out how I could tell you just how perfect this craziness is”. Yep….life is just perfect.

Can you look at something that happened to you today and ask yourself “What was so perfect about this when it clearly isn’t?” and have an answer? It works. And it’s contagious. Try it with your staff or peers when they’re going through a particularly rough time and see how the attitudes change on a dime. Fascinating!

It might sound simplistic, yet defining perfection for you is never simple. What it does is put things in perspective, take the power away from the chaotic moments and put it back in your hands. Nothing simple about that, not by a long shot.


Donna Karlin

No comments: