By Elisabeth Goodman
Last night I heard Sheri Kershaw & Band at the Royston Folk Club – our favourite twice-monthly music venue. She introduced her first song ‘Colours of Life‘ with the observation that we will all suffer at some time in our lives, and the suggestion that we embrace rather than resist this experience, as it is what adds colour to our lives.
One of the reasons that I write these blogs is the opportunity this gives me to share the insights that experiences like hearing someone like Sheri gives me. Combine this with a Harvard Business review blog by Peter Bregman ‘The unexpected antidote to procrastination‘ that I spotted in my twitter feed earlier in the day, and some magic happened that I wanted to share!
Not being afraid to fall
Bregman writes of his experience of watching surfers, who dare to ride the waves in search of that epic experience, with the full knowledge that they will always end by falling. Some fall gracefully, others resist it for as long as they can. But inevitably, they do fall. He suggests that the reason we put off doing a lot of difficult things in work or in life, put off taking risks even if what we might achieve might be epic or wonderful, is the fear of what might happen, of failing, of falling, of being hurt.
However, if, like Bregman, like Sheri Kershaw, we accept that the intensity of what we might feel, of what we might suffer, is an integral part of life’s rich tapestry, and of what we can achieve and succeed at, then it’s going to be about feeling the pain, and doing it anyway.
The link to engagement, empowerment and change
This brings me to why I’m writing about music and surfing in a business blog, and why I do the work that I do! I had the pleasure to experience a one-day course on coaching, organised by the Cambridge Network‘s Learning Collaboration, and led by Sue Blow from Management Learning & Coaching.
Listening to Sue and hearing about her approach as a coach reminded me that my work with teams is all about giving the individuals within the team the time, environment and skills to deal with the pain that they have been experiencing. As a result, the members of the team can become more engaged with their organisation’s goals, and also feel more empowered to do something about the challenges that they are facing.
I was talking with David Bance and John Moore earlier in the week, in our nascent Melbourn Business Association Special Interest Group for Operational Excellence. We were comparing experiences of how empowered people had been to raise suggestions for improvement as a result of participating in Total Quality Management, or Lean and Six Sigma initiatives. The best outcome was that it gave them the permission, the courage, the skills, the data and reasoning to dare to change situations where they had previously been feeling the pain. Of course, a successful outcome is also dependent on the management and organisational support to make the resultant changes.
The fear and the pain can be large or small
I definitely do not wish to minimise or trivialise the fear, pain or suffering that people might experience in their working or home lives, and the courage and the risks that they take to overcome them. I recognise that these can be very great and some of the situations that I come across can seem relatively small.
For example I also recently attended an excellent seminar by Janet Burton, of The Training Manager, where we explored how to develop, prepare for and deliver presentations. Even these kinds of situations can feel challenging and require effective mental preparation, a good stretch and taking a deep breath before beginning!
I’m also a trustee of the Red Balloon Learner Centre in Cambridge, and admire the courage of the students who come in to tackle their personal challenges of recovering from bullying and other traumas that they’ve experienced, so that they can come back to learning again.
The main thing is, as Sheri Kershaw and Peter Bregman suggest, to embrace these experiences and to also remember that there are people out there who will help you if we can.
- Elisabeth Goodman is Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, enhancing team effectiveness through process improvement, knowledge management, change management and MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator)
- Follow the links to find out about other ways in which Elisabeth Goodmanand RiverRhee Consulting can help your team to work more effectively for greater productivity and improved team morale.