Life happens! It happens to everyone. While we all work hard to make our plans and schedule our agendas, sometimes life just happens. In those moments we need to allow it to happen and let go of the plans, ask for help and deal with what showed up.
This happened to me recently. I was all set with my plans for the month and I had an uncle pass away. For me that’s a big deal. He was a large part of my childhood and this came completely out of the blue. Making matters worse, he had just lost a grandchild 2-weeks prior, and my schedule did not allow me to attend that funeral. I was NOT missing this one. My heart was broken for myself, but even more for my cousin who was dealing with not only the loss of her child, but within 2 weeks was also dealing with the loss of her father. Going to the funeral involved 20 hours of driving and a full day connecting with and catching up with 8 aunts and uncles (plus their significant others) as well as 20 cousins, some with significant others as well. It was a big day, and very emotional for all of us. While we were all excited to see each other, we were all grieving in our own way. When I got home, I needed a rest day.
These types of things happen to everyone and they affect us all differently. We need to accept for ourselves that it happened and give ourselves the space to deal with/grieve whatever has shown up. As leaders we need to give our team the space to handle what they need to handle. As teammates we need to ask for help and offer help as needed. The best leaders I have ever worked for allowed me the time to grieve or deal with whatever life had thrown at me. They trusted I wasn’t taking advantage, and I, in turn worked harder for them because I knew they would give me space when I needed it most. Those teams stepped up and took over whatever was on my plate that week and I returned the favour in their time of need.
As a leader, are you taking the time you need to really “deal” when life happens? Do you allow your team the time they need? Are they comfortable letting you know that life happened, and they need help?
Life is always going to happen. I love this idea of plot twist because it keeps my mind in a more positive space around these moments that change our plans. I could have been stressed about all the things that changed that week but instead, I saw all the wonderful people I have in my life. My Toastmasters team came together and took over where I couldn’t, my curling team was so supportive and found someone to cover for me, our family from all over the province showed up to grieve with us. I let go of many things, but the important pieces were still taken care of.
Sometimes these plot twists can be self-initiated. When we take the time to really reflect on our needs, sometimes we realize a change of mind or a change of direction is needed.
Not long ago, I agreed to teach a course at a local college and when I looked at the calendar, I realized I was 2 weeks out from the start and not ready; I didn’t have what I need from the school yet. I started to stress. What that looks like for me is thoughts running through my head, concern about having to pull out of something I said I’d do (which is a big value for me), and general grumpiness about all the other things in my life. While I meditated that morning, I asked the question “Is this right for me right now?”. The answers that came to me were “what do you need to do this?” and “set a boundary”. Right! I teach this all the time, but it’s always easier to see it for others when all the emotions aren’t getting in the way.
So, I did, I asked for a call with the Dean and mentioned my concerns about timing and said I needed to have the book and the outline by the end of the week. I didn’t know if I’d get it, but I was firm about what I needed, in order to do the type of job I wanted to do. It was OK at that point for me to say no. It is never easy for me to say no, but I had given myself permission to do so.
You always have permission to change your mind, especially if the circumstances change. When I was initially asked there were 6 weeks to prepare; when that changed to only 2 weeks and not having what I needed, I allowed myself to change my mind. Make your decisions based on what is in front of you, not on what you hope it will be or even worse on what you are “supposed to” or “should” do. Saying no when the circumstances don’t work for you is always permitted.
All is never lost. Something good comes from changes like this. You may not see it immediately but there is opportunity in every change. I’m a big believer in the idea of seeing the possibilities in every situation. Changes in your day are simply a plot twist and don’t have to be a bad thing. I’m grateful for my friend and coach Maru Labuchela for teaching me this mind hack. Seeing things in a more positive light helps you to see the possibilities in the change in your plans, rather than just the annoying nature of the change.