Sunday I checked into a hotel marking the start of a new working engagement. What I noticed as I approached the hotel is I had a knot in my stomach. I would best describe the feeling as an overriding desire to just skip out on my commitment and head home.

Despite this feeling I checked myself into the hotel and settled in for a few days. I tried to do a little work but was far too distracted to get anywhere. Again that feeling of “what am I doing here” came over me and had me wondering if I should walk away from it all.

It was right then I stopped myself with the question … “What’s here right now?”  I use this in coaching all the time as I’m looking for my clients to connect with what they’re bringing to our session. I never know where the question will take them, but it has been fairly powerful in starting to unlock something.

Time for a run!

I have been able to find clarity when I run in times like this. Running seems to be a form of meditation for me. It’s as if it’s a time to clear out something and reconnect with myself. This run took me along a busy waterfront with lots of people enjoying a beautiful day. I even took 15 mins and to stop and watch what was happening for all of those people. It was a beautiful sight.

When I returned to the hotel I now had an answer to my question of “what’s here right now?” Simply put I’m pushing against one of my strongest personal values regarding the importance of family. I would better describe this value as an anchor point. Over the past year in all the work I’ve done on myself my connection with family and home has only strengthened. This means everything I do is really for one purpose which can be connected back to them.

I’ve been spoiled in being able to work from home so much during the first part of this year. This new opportunity requires me to be somewhere else a few days a week which I can clearly see is gnawing on me.

What am I creating, choosing or attracting?

It’s easy to honour my family values when I’m sitting in my home office working for days at a time. Perhaps there’s some complacency in doing that as I can stop typing and go be with them if the situation calls for. It’s also nice when Bree our Golden Retriever wanders in to say “Hi — please pet me!”

I am here by choice. This is a good opportunity and I know at the other end of it I will have grown in ways I cannot imagine right now (I always do). Honouring my values around family, home, romance, etc are not in question. How I honour those values will evolve in this time I’m working away from the home.

I choose to create an environment in which my relationship with my family continues to strengthen, while I have this professional opportunity as well.

What I learned

I’ve learned a lot in this experience. You can see I’ve learned more about myself, and have become consciously aware of the impact of being out of alignment.

Before my run I turned to my work in an attempt to just muscle through what was happening. The problems is I was trying to put aside an important piece of me and not be my whole self. Doing this made it very difficult to focus and progress was almost non-existent. Although I had lots of work I could have been doing, my mind kept wandering back to my values. It was very distracting.

I think about all the ways organizations put their people in the position of violating their values:

  • Sacrificing evenings and weekends seems to have become common place and even normal in too many organizations. How are people to honour their values around family, friends, romance, health and so much more when they have little time for it?
  • People measured on their ability to move a high volume of work through to completion. The problem with the this measure and the high volume is they will take short cuts. Given most people come to work with the intent of doing a good job, how are they to honour this value given the work overload?

Think of my small examples of violating my values. The impact in the moment was significant in that I couldn’t move forward with my work. If you’re a team leader think of the impact on your team’s work when their values become violated. You could ask them to leave those values at the door, but that’s like saying “slice off your dominate arm and leave that here until you finish your work today”.

Values are as unique as people so there is no perfect answer I can give you for this. What I do know is reacting to work overload by asking them to leave some part of them self at the door is not the answer. Instead I would encourage leaders everywhere to work with your people to help create an environment where everyone can honour their values AND do some great work!

The next time you notice yourself or the people on your team struggling … stop for a moment. Perhaps rather than just trying to muscle through it, stop and ask:

What’s here right now?

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