Obstacles, distractions and things that get in our way are part of the norm of life, both at home and in the workplace. Recently, my sometimes well-behaved Weimaraner (large, needy and extremely affectionate dog) decided to shred her bed in the middle of the night, leaving the mess for me to discover the next morning when I had no additional time to spare before a demanding client meeting. This is life, right?
How you coach yourself through the obstacles of life can mean the difference between having a meltdown, spinning your wheels, or successfully navigating the obstacle and moving forward. Building self-awareness and being open to not having all of the answers are two tools for working through obstacles, especially at work.
Recently I worked with a client who is facing some very real obstacles to completing a project because of functional silos that exist in their workplace. The walls seem to be pretty tall and thick in some places, and the environment is territorial. You may have experienced this in your own organization. You and your department might even be “those people.”
Working through, around or with obstacles is a lot of what we are called to do in our work as leaders. It could be called problem solving or teamwork or team building or living in chaos, and in today’s VUCA world (the acronym for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous), it is the norm.
Here are a few tips to consider when coaching yourself through these challenges:
Leadership lessons and inspiration can be gained from everyday experiences, whether we are participating or observing. While not automatic, we can choose to look through the lens of inspiration, and that lens can move us to change and grow, or sometimes just keep going. Most recently, I was inspired by the run for the Stanley Cup by Nashville’s local NHL team, the Predators. Here are a few things that I took from the experience:
Certainly bringing the Cup home would have been an amazing end to this story, and yet we celebrate the Predators' demonstration of commitment, focus and integrity, as well as the great sense of fun that they brought to each game. Their best inspired the rest of community to be committed and bring our best. It wasn’t perfect, indeed, yet spectacularly successful none-the-less. It was a nearly ideal leadership experience, and was certainly inspiring enough to consider what worked well that could be applied in other work environments. How can you bring these lessons to your team?
Most of us start our journey of business ownership with a passion and a heart for the pursuit of our own thing, not beholden to anyone else to make decisions for us or supervise our decisions. We love the freedom and the sense of adventure, and the ability to pursue something that enriches our lives and pays for the food on our tables. We believe in finding work that is consistent with who we are, and we also believe that others will want to follow us, buy from us, and also experience all of the value that we can bring to their world.
If you want to have a successful business, though, whether you work for yourself or someone else, you need to know very specifically who you are serving and what makes you uniquely qualified to deliver the value that you say you are offering. You have to understand what risks you are taking and why you are taking them on this specific market segment.
You also need to have the discipline to do the things that you should do even when you don’t want to do them. I think the term today is “adulting” when you make those types of decisions. And in a new business, knowing who you serve, how you will serve them and making the tough decisions each day to spend your time focused there is a very adult decision.
So, while passion and heart goes a long way, building structure and strategy around your passion will help you relate and deliver better to your ideal customer, and support you in taking risks that are more likely to have a reward for you. If you want to improve your success:
Your heart is only one of your guides on this journey. Creating strategy and structure in addition to identifying your target market, meeting them and fine-tuning while you are learning about them will require courage, discipline and a positive mindset. Your heart will benefit from having that type of support.