Peace. Freedom. Achievement. Pride. I was feeling all of this the day I handed in my resignation. I had survived my career year from hell and I had implemented my exit plan. It was almost over. No more being judged, regardless of my efforts. No more being sworn at. No more being abused.
I wanted to make a contribution towards improved leadership behaviours in the organisation post my departure. The two actions that I decided to take were:
- Lodge a formal complaint against my manager; and
- Write a very lengthy exit document, which I discussed in depth at my exit interview.
It felt as though I was finally owning the situation. I was no longer constantly trying to curb the fear.
I don’t know what happened as a result of my actions. Some time after I left, I did hear some rumblings that my efforts had an impact; I don’t know for sure whether that was the case. I feel proud that I tried. I had never thought of myself as a particularly courageous person yet, when I look back on that time, my assessment is that those actions took significant courage.
Once I had taken action with regard to the bullying behaviour, I declared that it was time to look to the future; no more focusing on the past. I was going to look for the learning, and focus on my new job. At the time, I think this is what was needed in order for me to get by. However, looking back, I feel as though I was quite hard on myself. It almost feels as though it may have been useful to have a grieving period, and I definitely didn’t allow myself to do that at the time.
Anyway, onward and upward. It was time to focus on my next hurdle: How was I going “be” in my new job?
Back then, I had a tendency to start new jobs very quietly, sitting back and watching what was going on and seeking to understand everything before having an opinion. My assessment is that my actions were being driven by uncertainty; I didn’t know how to get it perfect, so I didn’t jump in. It might be that I knew exactly what to do in my role, however the people with whom I was working would rarely get that vibe because I wouldn’t speak up. It is probably even fair to say that I would almost ask permission, rather than jumping in and doing things. The good news was that I was aware that I did this. I was also aware that it came from a lack of confidence; from the uncertainty of being in a new situation. The problem, however, was that people’s first impressions of me always seemed to be that I didn’t know what I was doing; that I didn’t jump in and take ownership. I felt that this had been to my detriment in my most recent roles.
Hence, I was keen to embark on some learning about how to be in my new role.
When my coach and I talked about how I wanted to be, I decided that I wanted to have presence yet also be approachable and without arrogance. It was fairly apparent that I had a tendency to sit back and wait until I had “all of the answers”. This was how I had learnt to manage uncertainty; I would find as many answers as I could in an attempt to turn the uncertainty into certainty. The interesting thing is that when my coach asked me whether it was ok to not have all of the answers, I started to realise that perhaps it really was ok.
Something that came up for me in many coaching conversations (as would probably be expected from a perfectionistic self-doubter) was that I was operating a way of being centred in not being good enough. And, funnily enough, it came up again in this particular conversation. We looked at how “not good enough”sat in my body. After we had looked at “not good enough”, we looked at what body would serve me in my new role. We arrived at the body, language and emotions for a way of being of “taking my authority”. This felt amazing. What’s more, from this way of being, not having all of the answers felt safe. Not having all of the answers had never felt safe before. I can’t describe how wonderful this felt.
Before leaving the conversation, I made the declaration “I take my authority”. I then walked away, ready to take on the world.
I had never, ever, had the confidence to just walk in and own a new role before, so leaving the conversation feeling as though I could do just that felt beyond amazing.
When I started my new job, I did my best to jump in and be a leader, yet not be too arrogant; it was important to me that I still seek to understand (be a learner). There were times when I wasn’t sure whether I could do it, however I focused on the language, emotions and body posture that we had discussed and I reminded myself of my declaration – “I take my authority”. I also kept an image inside my head of who I usually was and who I wanted to be.
A few days into my new job, a work colleague said: “I have to say this. I really admire the way that you are just jumping in and making things happen. I would never have the confidence to do that in a new job”.
I smiled a little on the inside, as I thought to myself “If only you knew…”
Until I had experienced the shift that came from “taking my authority”, I never would have thought that I could be that person; jumping into a new job and taking my authority simply wasn’t me. However, I think this is a great example of how our language, emotions and body can limit us. There was nothing physically stopping me from taking my authority. I had simply created a story through language that I wasn’t that person and, combined with various moods and the way in which I embodied this, I became the person in my story.
I believe that I have done this many times throughout my life. About five years before I started to receive coaching, I had thought about becoming a coach. However, the story that I created was that I didn’t have the time or the money to invest in that process and would probably not be any good at it anyway. Nothing has really changed for me in that time; if anything I probably have less time than I did back then. However, with a different story and different moods and embodiment, here I am achieving my dream of becoming a coach.
This has led me to thinking about the possibilities that we shut down regularly because they are simply not available from our way of being at the time.
Points to Ponder…
- How are your stories preventing you from seeing new possibilities?
- What are the moods and emotions accompanying these stories?
- What could you do to change your stories?
- What moods and emotions would help you with changing your stories?
I am a leadership and life coach, available for coaching and facilitation services. If you feel that it would be useful to have a conversation with me, please feel free to view my services on the Leading and Being website.