I have been working with John for only two sessions. The first session was more about a crisis involving fears of COVID and being in public. He seemed apprehensive about therapy initially but willing to let go of his suddenly developed fears and phobias. At the conclusion of the first session things were pretty much squared away with that; learning to thought stop, learning how to challenge his fear based thoughts with reality and expectations, and lastly gaining confidence in his ability to manage and function on his own.
The second session is where the power really unfolded. John is a sales director, correction, the top sales director in the industry. He has a team of 48 people in his downline and manages them, now thanks to the first session, with a personal touch helping to ground them all in their priorities in life; wellness, family, and productivity. I asked John what was next for him in his career and what were his dreams, his answer was shocking because of being honest and upfront. He said "I'm board. I've mastered this position and I don't see the reward in the next level".
I'm bored. I've mastered this position and I don't see the reward in the next level
I confronted him and said that he's scared and it seems like he's afraid of failing because he lives life taking minimum risks to ensure limited embarrassment and shame. I wish I could say that he was angry with me, but I think that his level of shock and awe overrode any ego or pride that could have been there. He seemed more appreciative that someone was able to "see him" instead of seeing his facade. We talked a little bit about where those fears come from and discovered that I was in fact correct in my assessment and that he needed a new challenge but to feel confident in the new venture. What he told me next changed my perception of Corporate Wellness and Leadership Development.
What he told me next changed my perception of Corporate Wellness and Leadership Development
We discussed the topography of his next two promotions; more money, more members, and more responsibility. For someone like him, more money isn't enough of an incentive to encourage promotion. I know, for some of you this is shocking information and others it's just common place. However what it meant to me was that he found more value in the balance of his priorities, even more so since Covid. He valued time with his family, being fully present and not just "safe" from infection. He wanted to be there for his friends and loved ones given the deaths from Covid. This is different from who he was prior to COVID, very driven and focused individual that was set on climbing the corporate ladder.
More responsibility was the second deterrent. We discussed this one at length and how it played a role in his perfectionism and self perception. Don't get me wrong he didn't lack confidence, this was something different. It was a NEED to not make a mistake and only do things that he was certain that he could CONTROL.
Are you seeing a theme here? How the need for control is woven into the fabric of his most meaningful layers of life? When we fear loss of control our reaction tends to be perfectionism. It just makes sense that more control will garnish more relief right...? It has worked for many others, and him honestly, over the course of his life, but COVID took that vail of safety away and exposed us all to the realities of which he can't control. So my suggestion was simple: LET GO, HAVE FAITH, AND TRUST
Santa Claus is a great example of the philosophy of Letting Go. He makes a plan, checks it twice and then let's the rest go. Make your plan, but only include the things that you can control, leave the rest out of the plan. The stories of Santa doesn't say that he checks the weather channel in order to determine the difference in temperature for Sweden versus Brazil or Tampa versus New Jersey in order to control his journey. The story teaches us to make a plan for what we are responsible for and that's it. He doesn't worry about whether or not little Johnny is happy with his Xbox 5, he is only responsible for dropping the gift off. The rest is up to Johnny. We forget that part of the story when we teach our children to let go of control and that omission continues for many of us into adulthood.
We are only responsible for our part, the rest is none of our business.
Having faith doesn't have to do with religion. It is "believing in things unseen". We have faith that tylenol is going to work to relieve our headache. Not many of us know EXACTLY how or why tylenol removes a headache but yet we still use it. Having faith is the same concept. We can believe that things will work out well without having to know EXACTLY how it will work out.
Trust the work that you've already done. In this case, trust the way that you've lead your team, created an environment of accountability, and honesty and let the ship run the way you've designed it to work. Sometimes our perfectionism and self doubt cause us to second guess the work that we've done and then we create chaos by destroying a system that's working in order to build it back up again. I know it sounds counter productive, but we do it all the time. Trust your team, trust your strategy, trust the process. Be willing to adjust when things show up but it doesn't have to be all or nothing and lead to sabotage. If you can't trust your team then do what you can or remove them.
What Every HR director Needs to Know
Salary isn't always the meaningful incentive for upward mobility
Prestige isn't always a motivator for great leaders to climb the corporate ladder
COVID has taught us the value of work life balance, incorporate that in future strategic priorities
Your org chart might need more branches to account for the creativity of your leaders and their need for growth and challenge.