By definition, to “manage” implies a level of control. So what happens to our sense of self when thing go out of control.
The drive from our home to my San Francisco office takes about 15 minutes. As I got in the car I had 23 minutes to make the commute and arrive on time for my first meeting of the day. Time enough for the commute, to grab a cup of coffee and for a quick round of “good morning” greetings. And then obstacles started popping up. The first one was the humdinger.
I’m in the garage preparing to back up when, out of the rear view mirror is a dog (a BIG dog) and its petite owner appear. It’s really clear my car is backing up toward the sidewalk. And the dog (did I mention it was a BIG dog) decides this is the time and the place to take care of its morning constitution. Really. The owner can see I am backing out.
Couldn’t she just tug the dog (this really BIG dog) a bit forward out of the driveway so the dog can take a leisurely dump and let me get on my way? Nope. They pause, smack in the middle of the opening and begin to take care of business. Tick-tick, tock-tock. Scratch the morning cup of coffee and pleasantries. I am getting agitated and annoyed.
And then, I saw her. I started to take notice. Of what was happening, not for me, but for the owner of the dog.
She looked panicked. The dog had one point of need and I clearly had another. She was stuck between the two. She did try to move the dog, but he was pretty committed to his task.
I was in the car, engine revving, evil-eye beaming through the rear-view mirror. She looked at me. She looked at the dog. And then she did something I would NEVER do. She moved into a catch position to expedite the clean-up responsibilities of urban dog ownership. I couldn’t watch; the mere idea of what she was doing to speed the situation along was causing my gag reflex to kick in (this was a BIG dog). She was doing her best in a really tough spot.
I became less agitated. I breathed. And began to notice what was happening for me.
Obstacles happen. In my every day life and in my work life. By their nature, obstacles are inconvenient and most often out of my control. When they happen, I get to decide where I put my attention and focus. I get to choose how I let an obstacle affect me, and by extension, how it affects others. I get to choose.
A few things to consider when obstacles occur for you:
- Where do you notice people stuck in the agitation and annoyance that obstacles inevitability cause?
- How do your responses to obstacles and inconveniences impact others?
- Where are your leverage points to help others expand their range of response?
When obstacles happen, breathe, pause, notice and stand in choice.
Thanks for joining us for this week’s “Five-minute Epiphanies How to Mine the Mess for Success: Tips, Snippets and Stories.” For more information check us out at www.stepupleadership.com. Join us next week when Jeff will be talking about saboteurs your own worst enemies.