This transitional, uncertain, ill-defined space, this space in which you find yourself as a result of a recent change, this space which has you feeling anxious, uncomfortable, longing for “normal,” this is your space, but only as of today.
There are two things to remember about this space:
- It is not a permanent condition. It is, in fact, a season.
- You get to choose how to be in it, how to feel about it.
You may feel anxious and displaced but those feelings are only a tiny fraction of those available to you, those you can choose to experiment with and explore if you are inclined to do so.
You could add feelings of curiosity or hopefulness. You could go from withdrawn to activated or even involved. You could claim your agency and decide to investigate the opportunity, share your questions with others, lead through connection, transparency and disclosure.
You could choose to find a productive energy in the unknown, to allow your vulnerability to inform your sense of possibility.
You might even decide that how you’re feeling about the change right now will simply be as of today. Tomorrow, you have another chance to expand the list of what you feel, incorporating the hard feelings into a much broader list that will serve you in this season of change and well into the next.
I find it easy sometimes to get stuck on how something should be done versus how something can be done. Preferences for certain actions can blind us to the fact that a chosen behavior is indeed preferential and not the only option.
We have some large palm trees in our front yard and occasionally a frond will snap and fall to the ground. These can be ten feet long and very heavy which means they need to be cut up to fit in our green waste can. I have a great hand saw that is perfect for the job while also providing a decent workout!
On one occasion I asked my son to do the cutting and he proceeded to plug-in an electric saw – not one intended for this kind of job – and carved up the branch without breaking a sweat. I remember saying, “That’s not how you do it! You’re supposed to use the hand saw.”
He gave me his best “Are you kidding me?” look with a hint of “Did you want this done or did you want this done your way?” I don’t remember exactly but I probably doubled-down with something like, “But that’s what the hand saw is for, not to mention it’s good exercise.”
That went about as well as you’d expect.
The fact is that he got the job done in a perfectly acceptable way and in a manner that was gratifying to him. Regardless of how I feel about it, that should be enough.
The leadership lesson in this is that if you hire highly qualified people and pay them highly qualified salaries you need to provide them the autonomy they need to do what you hired them to do. Creative and capable people will express themselves beautifully in the right conditions, and those conditions must always include the freedom to make their mark, to test ideas, to share their experience and to solve problems.
Breaking a sweat can be gratifying but it’s hardly ever proof of the best way to do the work.
DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.