You hear a highly disturbing sound, its seems faraway yet is unbearable. Its the alarm on your phone, you hit the snooze and turn over craving for ten more minutes of comforting sleep, just ten…
You open your eyes a bit later, glance at the phone and jump out of bed with a cry, you overslept and are 20 minutes behind schedule. You curse yourself for staying up so late last night reworking the slide deck. You curse your boss too for asking for so many changes one day prior to the big meeting.
A quick shower, skipped breakfast and you are out of the door.
Its a big day, important meeting, key presentation, you have been meaning to work on this for the past two months but could begin just twelve days ago. Far too much work on your plate. A win today will take the pressure off you and off your boss too, bring in some much needed extra attention from the management team, maybe set you up for a bigger increment….
You struggle through the snail like morning traffic, glancing at your watch every couple of minutes, drumming your fingers on the steering wheel in nervousness, one eye on the phone in your dashboard while avoiding the bikes and assorted vehicles criss crossing ahead of you. Your mind is racing with thoughts, revisiting the slides worked and reworked a dozen times over the last few days.
The phone rings, its your colleague from R & D checking if you can include some last minute revisions to their data, you groan and decline, they aren’t happy, heated words are exchanged, your boss calls next to check if you are already at the office to receive the clients, you break into a sweat and weakly reassure him you are just around the corner and will be up in a matter of minutes. He doesn’t sound convinced, you end the call. Snatches of unpleasant conversations from an earlier meeting drift by in your mind only to be interrupted by loud honking behind you.
You mutter under your breath and accelerate not paying attention to the traffic lights that have just turned red. Next thing you know, you are pleading with the traffic cop to let you go for an important meeting. He looks disinterested and bored. Asks you to park by the road along with other traffic offenders. You look at your watch and panic, you are going to be late, way too late. Your sweaty fingers dial your teammate’s mobile number, the line is busy, you curse, feel the tension rising in your stomach, you continue to redial.
Reaching the office 45 minutes later than planned, you rush through the aisle, the receptionist says your co- presenter called in sick, needs you to cover up for her. You enter the conference room feeling drained, sheepish, clumsy and embarrassed. The clients are already in and seated, coffee has been served, your boss is chatting them up and gives you a brief, non approving look which makes you feel even more miserable. You mumble an apology, set up the equipment and begin making the presentation.
Then it gets worse, the clients ask some tough questions not part of the brief, you are caught unaware, this was not on the agenda plus you are hungry and not feeling at your best so you fumble, you lie, you don’t sound so convincing, there is an unnerving silence in the room, you look at your colleagues for help, none dare to step up. You rush through the balance slides, the meeting ends in an awkward manner. The clients leave promising to let you know their decision soon. Something tells you it wont be in your favor.
You start thinking about the meeting that is about to follow with your boss and it fills you with dread…
You, Me and Everyone
What I have painted here is a slightly exaggerated yet realistic scenario that happens quite often at the workplace. I have been through these in the early parts of my corporate career, the clients I now coach say they are going through it. Maybe you too have and are facing similar stressful situations.
Uncertainty is Certain
Life is unpredictable, every day can bring new challenges, you just cannot be in control all the time. Yes, that hurts, it causes pain and stress to know you can’t be on top of some situations however, thats the reality.
The only thing you have control over though is your response to these events in your life. And the quality of your response can influence the outcome.
If you choose to be disorganized, worry, panic, pass the blame, fumble, lie, work in a silo then you are going to have poor outcomes.
You choose to plan well, be organized, communicate effectively, set clear expectations, stay confident, demonstrate ownership, collaborate and focus on the solution, you can have a better outcome.
Revisit the story with the second approach and see how the outcome could have been influenced better.
Stop fighting situations beyond your control
Start focusing your attention on improving your response to them
Life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change ~ Jim Rohn
Questions to reflect over:
1. What are some tough situations in life outside your control?
2. What is your current response to them?
3. Is that helping or hurting you?
4. What could be an alternate response?
5. How would that influence the outcome?