• sharnatherton

Keep calm and create some thinking space

Sharn Atherton, 15th May 2020

Not sure Rohan Keating had our current situation in mind when he sang ‘life is a roller coaster’ but it certainly captures for me the journey we are on. It’s a pity the five minutes of ups and downs, turns and dives don’t look like coming to an end anytime soon and when they do what will the world look like that we will be returning to?

In my last blog I spoke about ‘calm’ and coming back to the analogy of a roller coaster, this certainly doesn’t conger images of calm! We are on a rapidly changing ride full of uncertainty, driving a sense of urgency to adapt and change and our heads are full of unanswered questions. This urgency that we create can stop us listening to our rational thoughts which are taken over by emotions of fear or excitement, anticipation of what’s to come and what this will mean.

It reminds me of the movie ‘Bugs life’ when the leaf falls and disrupts the path the ants are following, chaos and panic resumes and no-one takes time to create space to consider different options, they just react! Whilst writing this I had a leaf land in my day! It was a letter from school asking if I would be sending my year 6 child back to school! My immediate reaction was based on an emotional response and my mind was closed down to other options of why this would be ok.

So many leaves have landed since the beginning of March and some I have brushed away easily whilst others have gathered into a large pile! I imagine I am not alone and many leaves have dropped in front of all of us and continue to fall. From speaking to others their questions echo my own; when will it feel safe to go back to work? What does this mean for my business and my teams? How can schools be safely re-opened? How will we get to work? What does social distancing mean for me and my business? To the more personal ones; will I fit back into my work trousers and how can I go to work when I haven’t had my hair done for 8 weeks!

This sense of urgency creates pressure to make decisions and implement change quickly often prompting an irrational response or jumping on the first idea you can think of. I can think of times when I have reacted quickly to a situation and the consequences were not as I had intended. Likewise, when I have procrastinated and spent too much time going over the same thinking and acting too late. So, what is the solution?

Imagine in those times when you are wrestling with decisions having a sounding board, someone to listen to your thinking as you work through the challenges and supporting you to identify solutions, testing them out and having a mirror held up to challenge your assumptions. How much difference would that make the quality of your thinking?

As I continue to review the value I can add to my clients at this time, I recognise a need to adapt my approach to coaching. Whilst I continue to work with clients on structured programmes over a period of months, I am introducing a ‘just in time’ service to support clients at the time when they need a sounding board to make sense of the noise and move forward.

If you would like to discover more about ‘just in time’ coaching and explore how this can support you and your business, please get in touch by contacting me at:

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