I reconnected with a former client the other day. We hadn’t talked in a number of years, and out of the blue they reached out to reengage me as their coach.
Of course, I love when that happens, but I’m also a bit trepidatious. Often we get “called back in” because of positive changes and opportunities – new roles, big promotions, and exciting projects. However, sometimes clients reach out because things have gone “south” for them. Unfortunately, this was one of those times.
My client caught me up on their circumstances. Everything had been fine – great in fact. They were well-regarded at their organization and their path forward seemed clear. They’d even been tapped as a potential successor for their boss, when and if their boss moved on.
And then their boss moved on and they were moved to a new role, reporting to a new boss. Their role kept getting changed and somehow diminished, a bit chipped away each week it seemed.
My client was confused, upset, angry, and a bit lost. They were doing their best to be positive about this less-than-positive situation and to find a way to lead their large team through this period of transition.
Which is when I got called in. “What can and should I do?” they asked me.
My first and foremost answer to them was pretty much the same initial answer I give to all of my clients who find themselves in situations that are draining their energy and enthusiasm.
“Find even more ways to take care of yourself,” I answered.
Of course, we also discussed strategic next steps within their organization – whom to reach out to, how to look for new opportunities, how to motivate their team when they felt pretty much completely demotivated. But the main gist of our conversation was self-care.
“What can you do to fuel yourself?” I asked them. “What outside of work with fill up your empty cup?”
We strategized ways to work in exercise and meditation and reading.
“Remember,” I offered, “If you can’t read for 30 minutes (or exercise for a full hour), even five to ten minutes is better than nothing, and it will fuel you and give you a buffer to handle the stuff that is hard.”
“Look for joy and beauty,” I counseled. Research has shown that when we actively look for, notice, and savor things that are beautiful to us or that bring us joy, we feel better and have more of what it takes to do what we must do.
Again, of course, we thought through the actions they could take and ways they could best handle these unwanted changes, but the conversation came back to the same main point – how could my client take care of themselves so that they’d be less pulled down and beaten by a situation (and new boss) that seemed determined to diminish them.
I wish I could say that this is the only time I’ve had a client who faced this type of situation, but it is all too common. Things happen. Situations shift. And we get stuck where we don’t want to be.
When that happens, a great (first) step is to take care of ourselves, so that we can keep on keeping on.
How have you handled a tough situation? What got you through?
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For support in moving through the tough stuff, contact Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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