Saturday, June 26, 2010

Three Choices When Faced with Change

In the last few weeks, I have found myself embroiled in a situation that I don’t want to be in. A major client of mine changed their business model, which triggered a series of changes, which ultimately affected me. The client’s changes forced me to change. After being upset about some of these changes, and secretly hoping that life would go back to a previous time, I stumbled upon a DVD of a talk given by David Whyte. For those of you not familiar with David Whyte, he is a wonderfully eloquent Irish poet who interprets poetry for soulful people living and working and struggling in the real world.

In “Live in San Francisco” David reminds us to “look the present straight in the eyes.” He describes the three possibilities and choices we have when life “gently and not so gently pulls the rug from under us”:

  1. Pretend it never happened, and make people go along with you regarding the version of reality you are holding, which is a representation of something that at one time was real.
  2. Accept that it is happened, but “create a characterization of victimhood about yourself, so that you can bank down into a lovely downward spiral of self-pity.”
  3. Look it straight in the eye, and face both the bitter and the sweet of existence. Stop telling yourself all of the stories you tell yourself that aren’t real. Take the next step into the actual reality that surrounds you, instead of trying to find what is more comfortable for you.

I realized that I had been primarily vacillating between 1 and 2 above, neither of which was working for me. Without accepting fully that the situation I was in has indeed changed, I would not be able to make peace with it and intentional choose how to move on. I realized that I must choose the third path: taking the bitter and sweet of change, and being gentle with myself as I process through the loss of what was and what has changed.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Smarter than I was Yesterday

It’s official. The Extraordinary Coach book is out. I co-authored this book with my good colleague Jack Zenger to help managers be better at coaching their employees. McGraw Hill published the book, and it was officially “out” on June 4th. Now, if you were fortunate to pre-order the book from Amazon, you probably got it weeks ago.

Publishing a book is a lot like being an external consultant. People perceive that you are smarter. I routinely consult with bright clients, but because I walked in from the outside, they think somehow I am smarter than their internal organizational development team members. (Often, this is just not the case.) I was as knowledgeable on the topic of coaching before I wrote the book, but now that I have published my thinking, I got even smarter.

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being with an executive team at a very respectable organization, who had managed to pre-order the book and get early copies. I must say that it was humbling to autograph the books for the CEO and several board of director members. One book even made it to a highly-decorated, 4-star general. I certainly smiled internally as I personalized the general’s copy, as I wondered how many years and miles of leadership and coaching he obviously had under his belt. Still, the group was delighted to have me sign his book. I was delighted to do so.

I’m still getting used to this new role, and I will do my best to live up to all of those expectations. J