This week's guest blog is brought to you by Dr. Ann V. Deaton, Lodestar Coach, Facilitator and Master Coach Trainer.
What would make it easy?
If there’s one word I’ve heard used most often in the past year, the word is “hard.”
"This COVID pandemic is hard.”
“Teaching my kids and doing school at home is hard.”
“Seeing how people are treating each other is hard for me.”
“Not knowing when I’ll get a vaccine? That is hard.”
“Applying for unemployment for the first time in my life is hard.”
“Having an employer who just expects more when I’m already exhausted. That’s really hard.”
And even those who say they are doing “okay” in the midst of all the challenges acknowledge that it’s been a difficult time in many ways. It’s “hard” to master all the new technology and virtual work skill sets, “hard” to be missing friends and life milestones, and “hard” to deal with the unpredictability of when things might be anywhere close to “normal” again.
In these “hard” times, I have been both impressed and inspired by how resilient we are. I have watched in admiration as we humans have stepped up with courage, creativity, and generosity. Yet, I’m deeply concerned to see so many exhausted and running on empty.
The question I’ve found myself asking more and more often is “what would make it easy?” And it’s been remarkable to see how some people light up and quickly identify one, two, or three things that could lighten the load. Just a few examples:
· A mom whose teen is sharing an “office/classroom” with her as each tries to get work done: What would make it easy? “What would make it easy is if each of us spent an hour out of the office each day. Just an hour when we’d have the office to ourselves, an hour to do something elsewhere in the house where we’re not listening to someone else and feeling their stress. That would make it easy, or at least easier.” And, when asked, could that happen? “Oh yes, an hour we could do!” Whew, a deep breath.
· A manager hating the idea of doing performance evaluations in a year when so many team members had things happening outside of their control. “It just doesn’t seem fair. I think they are doing the best they can.” What would make it easy? “Really, just not do them. Just tell them we aren’t doing performance evals, and admit that it’s a crazy year. No one is expecting a raise because they know the company is just eking by. Maybe I just won’t do performance evals.” Is that something you can choose not to do? “I’m gonna give it a shot. I’m not the only one feeling this way. It would make it easier for all of us managers. HR has been offering to help in whatever way they can. This is a way they can help.” What will you do next? “I’m going to call HR when we hang up. This would be a game changer!”
· A project lead struggling to track her team when she can’t just pop her head into their office to ask a question. What would make it easy? “It would be easy if I had one of them track progress. They are always asking for stretch roles, and they want me to feel I can count on them. That would make it easy.” How would you do that in a way that works? “I think we could just huddle first thing in the morning and identify our highest two priorities for the day. Then I could ask them to message me with progress and questions, maybe at 10, 1, and 4. That would make it easy.” Is it something you want to try? “Yes. I have no idea if it’ll work, but just thinking about it makes me feel lighter. It’s worth a shot.”
I’ve been asking myself the same question: what would make it easy? Whether it’s balancing a demanding schedule, getting groceries, or following up on a commitment, I’m asking “what would make it easy?” The thing is, even asking myself that question puts me in a different mindset. I start thinking about possibilities instead of difficulties, options instead of limitations. And I am amazed at how often the answer is right in front of me when I just ask the right question.
Whatever “hard” things you are challenged by today: What would make it easy?