Being coached in front of an audience is not an easy task for anyone. I get it, but that doesn’t cause me as the coach to take mercy on anyone who volunteered for the task. After a weekend of leading a seminar and coaching live, it was once again drummed home to me how often and easily we betray ourselves.
I do it too. Make a joke, tell a story about my woe or otherwise deflect—all ways to avoid pain or face the truth. During this seminar, the person in the “hot seat” was insistent on sharing the drama of the wrongdoing done to her instead of recognizing next step was right in front of her.
Dariah was performing a role within a corporation that spoke to her passion for diversity and empowering women. She reported loving her work, feeling alive and finding meaning in the task at hand. BUT (and there is always a BIG BUT) she had been forced off the upwardly mobile executive track and that was causing her to feel marginalized. Furthermore, she took that to mean she didn’t matter. She could not get over the loss of the chance of reaching a high executive level, and so was ready to walk away in order to prove her merit.
When she addressed me in front of the group, she did what I have seen countless people do: get silly and self-deprecating as she explained her scenario and answered the coaching questions with more rhetoric about what had been done to her. True or not, that was not the issue. What mattered was whether she cared to move forward or not. She claimed she did.
She wasn’t happy with me for interrupting her story. I did so anyway. I refocused her attention away from the problem and reminded her of what she said: “I love what I do. I feel alive.” She had also said she wanted to do more of it on a larger scale.
Her demeanor, partly due to being shocked out of her anxiety, became serious, focused and centered. I made her repeat what she had said. When she did, she suddenly had a lot more options. She could keep the role where she was (if she could get over her “should” about being on an executive track); she could look for a better one doing the same thing elsewhere as an executive in HR around diversity and inclusion; or she could even create a new role/department at her current company.
She went from justifying her story of being “stuck” and “helpless” to very powerfully grounding herself in what was already true: She loved what she was doing and wanted to have even a bigger impact with it. Drama, anxiety, executive track be darned! She was doing exactly what she wanted to be doing!!!! Now, she could move forward with the intent to grow the impact she could make. She could leverage what she was doing to reach more people and maybe even attain the title and recognition she craved. She was getting paid well to do what she was doing, but perhaps she could even be paid more. Now she knew who she was, what she wanted and how she could go about getting it. She was more passionate than ever about the mission she was on to make a difference.
Do you play this game with yourself? Do you get wrapped up in how you’ve been wronged or how things aren’t going as you think they should so that you miss all the good stuff right under your nose? I know I do sometimes. We can all be blind to the pitfalls we choose to stay stuck in.
JUST STOP! It’s not cute. Or funny. Or totally true.
Need help getting unstuck? Give us a call.
Here’s a funny reminder that our fears, though very real, can put us over the top.
A little lightness helps to get perspective.