I readily admit she annoys me. And I know she’s someone’s mother, sister, friend, maybe spouse, and I am not exhibiting any empathy.
She walks, not swims, and hogs one big lap lane. She vigorously chews gum, holding her phone and checking her e-mails – I can see it all when swimming the sidestroke. And she makes people who have registered for her lap lane wait – and be late – for their half-hour swim.
It’s infuriating to me how anyone can be so clueless as to their impact on others. But apparently, that’s where she’s at.
My Clueless Day
Of course, I can be clueless as well. But hopefully with greater self-awareness.
Like last week when I woke up to a day filled with potential. Clients had rescheduled and I was ready and rearing to tackle practical and creative projects. Except that by 9:30 am, I had run out of energy. What? I thought. This is unacceptable.
I poked and prodded but no amount of coaxing would jump-start my day. I felt clueless, frustrated and unable to focus. Eventually, I had to give up. I ran errands (I hate errands) and stared into space. I didn’t even walk the dog (or me), and it was a gorgeous spring day. Oh, and then I responded too quickly and casually to what was an important e-mail from a dear friend, and I know I will regret for some time to come.
Do you have these clueless days too?
WWBD: Engaging Curious and Clueless in Our Professional Worlds
WWBD: What Would Becky Do?
I don’t know always follow my natural rhythms well. But I am reminded of a client, Becky (she gave me permission to use her name), an executive director, who uses exactly these types of moments to fortify her team.
She works with a population that readily recognizes emotions and moods (all the stuff we try to hide and bury from others), which then requires staff to be equally self-aware.
I can just hear her saying to her senior team: Anyone else feeling clueless lately? Like not really focused and responding too quickly or not quickly enough – and feeling regret? Anyone needing more downtime but feeling guilty about taking it?
Likely someone on her team would be feeling something similar and thus would begin an exploration of self-care, emotion management and resiliency. She’d share personally first and make it okay to explore what’s really going on. Defenses down, creativity and contributions up. #rewarded vulnerability all around.
This is an organization that did not experience the Great Resignation despite very demanding work and hours through the very long haul of COVID.
This is an organization that started its strategic plan with me in DECEMBER. Who starts a strategic plan in December? Well, they did, because that’s the only time they had – even though they had little time.
I also completed a capstone certification in culture actualization with their team, and no surprise, they were meeting the higher level growth needs of a coaching and mentoring culture, with purpose and values broadcasting and feedback-rich communication.
Becky shared with me the other day:
….. I don’t get as fatigued when I am authentic – in fact, I get energized. It’s very freeing to be yourself and it’s contagious. COVID got me to really notice what people needed, which is to be validated that they weren’t alone or wrong to feel exhausted. It’s the practice of being present in the moment, acknowledging people for who they are and letting them know: I still admire you. What’s exciting is that staff is coming to the same conclusions as well.
When Clueless Create Cohesion
So often I hear people say:
- I don’t have time to coach and mentor my staff.
- I’m not trained and I’m not a therapist.
- There are too many other priorities.
- I don’t do this touchy-feely stuff.
It’s actually not that complicated, and Becky would agree. Here’s a great article on Proven Tactics for Improving Teams Psychological Safety. Their research bottom line? “Managers who treated team members as unique individuals significantly boosted team psychological safety more than in any other group.”
To quote twentieth-century contemplative writer, Thomas Merton: Even our mistakes are eloquent, more than we know.
Everything belongs and is an invitation to be seen and heard – even if it feels hard.