I met with a group of women business owners recently, where one participant whom I know and adore, shared a challenge about how crazy-busy she is. She felt frantic and incapable of prioritizing. The proverbial fires were all burning equally in her arena. Taking time to deal with one over here could cause a huge conflagration over there.
I could feel my stomach begin to get knotted up.
And then I realized that I didn’t have to fix this for her, nor do I believe she desired a solution. She wanted to vent, to be acknowledged, understood and appreciated. Don’t we all?
I asked her permission to share an observation, which she welcomed. “I’ve known you a good 20 years, Barbie (not her real name).”
She immediately interjected, “And I’ve been complaining about this issue all along, haven’t I?”
I nodded. “What I get about you is that this is how you thrive. You’ve been wildly successful in this competitive and male-dominated industry you’re in. You’ve always made your deadlines, and you actually seem to thrive on the chaos of it. Why not re-frame your attitude about the situation and enjoy the ride? Instead of beating yourself up for not being better organized, how about some new and different self-talk? Try saying, ‘I’m really good at dealing with a million balls in the air. I always pull off these presentations. All nighters are the price of admission in this field. And I love it!’”
I wasn’t sure what kind of reaction I would get from that piece of truth-telling and coaching, but Barbie’s face went from drawn to relieved. She felt heard and understood and didn’t have to change a thing about her work method, except her attitude about it.
When I emailed her this morning to ask her permission to share the incident, this was her reply:
You certainly may blog about it!! I can’t tell you how great it was to hear your words!!