Did you ever have one of those moments where you suddenly wonder “What am I doing here?” I’m not talking about one of the big universe type questions, rather just the moment you’re presently in. I just had one of those and I have to say it hit me harder than I would expect.
I’m on course this week, and it’s a great opportunity and honour to finally be here as I’ve been trying to get into this course for a couple years now (it sells out fast!). The course is led by Jerry Weinberg and Esther Derby and is known as PSL (Problem Solving Leadership). I already do these things almost every working day as a coach and think of myself as pretty good at it. However, I also know I will always have room to grow and will benefit from such a powerful course which is why I signed up.
This afternoon they gave us an exercise I have never done before. I will not tell you what it is as I know at least one person who will read this is attending the next occurrence of PSL and I don’t want to give anything away. (Sorry Shawn but I’m being intentionally vague) By the end of the exercise and debrief I was seriously wondering why I came here. Did I waste my money?
These thoughts were very conflicting as I know I am not better than what we’re learning here. I also know I’m not smarter than anyone else in the room and will benefit in learning from them. I certainly have room for growth in all parts of my life (btw… if I ever tell you otherwise please ask me “is that really true Mike or is that just the story you tell yourself?”). Yet here I am wondering … “why am I here?”
It took a little while but I finally got some clarity:
I was playing my smaller game!
If you follow me lately you know I’m all about bringing my complete self to everything I do now. I’m all about being vulnerable, and more recently about playing my bigger game. Yet where did I head today … small.
I let myself get caught up in the excitement of competition. I didn’t tap into my curiosity to see what was happening for my team mates. I just wanted to jump in and do stuff overriding my rational side. I wasn’t participating in planning type discussions. I didn’t really want to be on a project team building something. I contributed to breaking down the team environment. Not good … I was definitely playing one of my smaller games.
So here’s the good news …. I’m human. (and if my boys are reading this … I know that’s hard to believe but really it’s true 😉 ) I know despite emphatically telling so many people “I am done playing small” that it will still happen.
After class I meditated on what was happening for me. I went through a range of stuff in my head, and noticed I was really doing a good job of justifying my mental state for a short period with thoughts such as “too many chiefs”, “I don’t want to do project work anymore”, “I’m still tired due to travel and time shifts”, or better yet “I’ve seen this before and I’ll let the others learn the lessons the hard way”. After dismissing these I had a moment of “oh god I suck … I know better”. Ah! I’m in a mental state of shame … time to get out of there! So I’m just going to suck it up, because I’m already here. Sigh …. that’s obligation.
Where to from here?
What I did to get clarity was to shift my focus inward to figure out what was real or true for me. I needed to figure out what reality I was creating, choosing or attracting. I will confess it wasn’t easy as there was lots of noise happening in my head. So I meditated which I find very effective for clearing my mind. Then I put on my swim suit and headed over to the hot tub. Thankfully it was empty so a little more quiet time to work through this.
I don’t know what tomorrow will look like, but I do know I will be playing my bigger game. It starts with reminding myself of who I am and staying present with that. For example, my personality type says I’m more likely to want to just try stuff over debating and planning it. However, I also know there are some things any good team needs to do to succeed. So why not bring some of the tools, behaviours and leadership I provide to others all the time in my work? Better yet why not learn some new leadership approaches from the others in the room?