I’ve been working with a lot of professional services firms recently and have been struck by the leadership demands being made on people transitioning into very senior roles. Particularly those making partner.
The step up to partner is a huge one and the pressure people
are under is immense.
Getting to partner means you’ve been a superstar on your way
up. When you get there, however, you move from being at the top of the tree, to
being back at the bottom. Like the new kid at big school, you are now having to
fight for yourself as the buck now quite literally stops with you.
I’m not sure about you but I’m better at giving advice than receiving
it. My privilege as a trainer and performance coach is to be able to fall back
on “do as I say, not as I do”. This is not something I’m particularly proud of
and nor is it something I want to admit to those I work with. I console myself,
professionally at least, with the fact that my diagnostic skills lie in helping
others and not myself. It also can’t be very helpful for anyone with the unenviable
task of being my coach.
Recently, however, I was offered some advice and in spite of
my habit, I took it. Surprisingly, to me anyway, the shift in awareness it
provoked has rippled through my whole life. My own coach is a mindfulness expert
and while we don’t spend too much time on this topic she set me a related task.
I was to take an everyday activity and be fully in it as I perform it, noticing
the sensations provoked by the experience.
Now, I’m not good at doing what I’m told. I will find ingenious ways not to do the homework I’ve been set (the French “devoir” always seemed a much more appropriate name). But over the Christmas break I had little excuse not to do one of the two very simple requests made of me.
I am a proud Panamanian. We are happy people that generally like to have a good time. We usually tend to disconnect from our reality by partying over the weekend. We are in essence, positive by nature. Recently, Panama qualified for their first FIFA World Cup. Our performance during this tournament was more than disappointing, but we were the happiest fans in Russia! Other countries lost in the semi-finals and it was considered a national tragedy. This Panamanian way will definitely make our lives more enjoyable but won’t create radical changes needed to take us out of a third world mindset and stop the corruption cycle that has been the trademark of our governments going back decades.
I was resting before my next fight during my latest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament when a mother of one of the kids, who was competing in the children’s competition, approached me, looking quite desperate, looking for feedback she told me that she needed my help. Her son had just lost his first fight against a more skillful kid and she insisted on showing me the video of her son’s fight to see if I could give her tips on how to improve his technique. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a sport that does not believe in talent. One improves by training constantly. There is no secret formula for overnight improvement, just like life. I looked at her and noticed that she was very concerned and recommended that she should have a talk with her son’s coach to understand the process and let him take care of his progress. She replied, “I want to help him but I do not know how”. I am also a father and completely understood her position. We do not want our kids to go through unnecessary hardship.
Are you a “Yes-all the time-round the clock-person”? , Do you feel bad when you say No, so you immediately go to a “but” that opens a lines of real or unrealistics reasons to eventually say Yes?, Do you know why do you do it? Want to experience the “FREEDOM” that saying “NO” can bring to your life?, then let me share what I did to stop feeling guilty by really wanting to say no, and always ended up saying yes to everyone.
It’s not a great feeling and it’s left me furious. As I reflect on the particular circumstances of the scam (no crime, just a disingenuous shop owner) I find myself trying to understand the nature of my rage. Because that’s what I feel. Rage.
It’s shouldn’t be a big deal. I have a new charger for my mac that works, but it’s not worth the money I paid and not as good as the proper Apple product. So why am I so upset by the incident?
During my years in the corporate world as a leader, I met leaders in different levels who despite being “successful” professionals were not happy individuals. We already know that if you are not someone who seeks happiness by enjoying moments and being thankful, it will show in other roles of your life impacting the way others may see you.