I’ve been learning that when you do something challenging, a moment of despair can be a sign of progress.
And it’s also a great opportunity to lead.
Last week, I was working on a coaching plan for a new client. Developing these plans is, say, 30% analysis and 70% intuition, so I can’t just sit down once and figure it all out. I work on it over several days, and sometimes the inspiration comes and sometimes it doesn’t.
I was on my third attempt to finish the plan and was getting that familiar feeling in the back of my throat and the pit of my stomach: “I’m not going to be able to finish it.”
Then my wiser self spoke up and reminded me that I always have moments like this one when working on a coaching plan. Same when I was leading projects: the times when everything is confused, stakeholders don’t agree, or there’s new information that changes the plan. And I – or we – always got it together in the end.
I wondered, maybe this low moment is part of the journey? Maybe you have to reach the point when you feel emptied of possibilities in order to open up to solutions, and to see the path ahead.
When you – or you and your team – next find yourself at one of those challenging moments, try this:
1) Accept that it’s where you and the team are at
The first and most natural response is to wish you weren’t in this situation but resisting reality just makes you feel more under threat.
2) Acknowledge out loud that it’s part of the journey
It can be scary to speak about difficulties out loud, yet team members appreciate a clear-eyed view of the truth.
3) Take a break from trying to solve the problem
Give your mind a chance to reset, even if it’s just taking 5 minutes away from the content.
And see what happens. Your next pass at solving the problem, you may find yourself on the upswing towards a solution, like I did.