Does this story sound familiar?
I have often been annoyed with my working relationships. Which is all the more frustrating, because I’m so much more creative and productive when working with others. Yet I regularly end up being the one to drive things forward in co-creative projects.
I want to rely on others, but I end up disappointed.
Why? Because “the others” suddenly disappear, or merely respond to direct requests. I regularly become resentful and keep asking myself: Where are they? And why are they not even communicating anymore? Are they overwhelmed? Or just not motivated? Are they really in? Or just taking a free ride?
With each experience, my frustration feels a little more intense.
To be sure, sometimes people take a free ride. And honesty with ourselves about which relationships nurture us and which deplete us is important. But here’s the thing:
When we repeatedly find ourselves in similar situations, it’s time for a closer look at ourselves.
So whatever story you relive at your workplace, press pause and look into the mirror: What key experience of the past might you keep re-enacting, with the help of others? Because each time you get triggered is a chance to evolve and get baggage out of your way so you can focus on what matters and step up your leadership.
To effectively lead and create with others, we need to be more honest with ourselves and practice inner leadership.
What does that look like? Whilst I still do find myself in similar situations, I process my experience with people who I am sure will help me stay focused on myself instead of ranting about others. This could be my coach, or trusted friends who help me analyse my own contribution to my story. This helps me observe and analyse my triggers.
When we press pause and are curious about our experience, our triggers cannot drive our thoughts, emotions, and actions anymore.
And the reward is big. I have found that when it comes to co-creating with others, I keep missing important steps in the beginning, perhaps out of fear to put others off by my great expectations and then having to do it alone from the start? So I prefer relying on everyone being as invested and energetic as myself. It’s not really surprising that this backfires from time to time.
Before we start working together, it is important to design not just what we want to create, but also how we want to work with each other. To share our expectations and assumptions about our time investment, our responsibilities, and about how we will hold each other accountable.
Whatever is not spelled out, is likely to be causing non-alignment.
But that conversation is uncomfortable, so most of the time, we avoid it, especially the second round of “How are we doing on our agreements?”
And that’s how we set ourselves up for frustration. However, we get to choose:
Are we happy with being disappointed by others, or are we taking responsibility for co-creating our experience at work, and at home?
Leaders are the ones who take the responsibility for their world, and that includes not shying away from edgy conversations. In Brené Brown’s words: Courage over Comfort.