Thursday, November 19, 2009
Finding Your Way
Some of the clients I've been working with these past couple weeks are feeling like their jobs (and their lives) are out of control. They have been through downsizings, and are now "doing more with less."
Some said they are overbooked and overwhelmed, feeling like they are drowning. Some have just about given up on planning because every day is filled with unplanned surprises. For others, stress is high, nerves are on edge, and tempers are rising. Some even said that their personal and family life is starting to suffer.
The flash that came to me was that they are trying to find their pathways through chaos.
Two of my favorite bloggers, Dick Richards and Curt Rosengren, have recently offered some wisdom about finding your pathway.
At his blog Riding on Dragons, Dick Richards has an entry called "Another Pathway" (a followup to an earlier entry called "The Mythic Pull of Pathways"). In these pieces about paths, roads and trails (that he has photographed so beautifully), he muses about the "pull" of pathways:
~ "The question–why am I attracted to images of pathways?–is yet another pathway that leads to an uncertain destination and so attracts me in the same way that I am attracted to the pathways in these photos. It seems that certain phenomena, be they photographic images or unanswered questions, draw me in because I cannot see where they lead–they invite me to seek and so allow expression for the mythic energy of the Seeker."
I know what he means. I have always been a seeker too. One who is drawn to the "pull of the road," wondering what discovery is around the next bend.
At his blog The Map Maker, Curt Rosengren has an entry called "The Power of the Crossroads of Possibility." In it, he asks: "What would happen if you really and truly looked at each moment, not as simply a continuation of an inevitable single-track path, but as a crossroads jam packed with potential directions?"
To start exploring the possibilities, he recommends that we stop and ask, "What are the possibilities here? Where am I going? Where do I want to go? What choices or steps can I find right here and now that would lead me - even incrementally - towards that goal?"
Coming back to my clients in chaos, I believe that exploring possible pathways is what they need to find their way through chaos. But how can they do that when everything is raging around them?
Here are a few thoughts that might help.
~ F for Focus: In the midst of chaos, it's like you are in a storm. Distractions are flying all around you. How do you find a calm center in the storm, a place you can go where the din is not so loud?
~ A for Attention: Chaos can scatter your attention, shattering it across too many "to do's" and priorities. Multi-tasking does not work. How do you pay attention to the things that matters most? Things like your own goals? Your family? Your health?
~ S for Slow: A few years ago, journalist Carl Honore published a book about the Slow Movement. In his TED Talk on the positives of slowness, he recommends "getting in touch with your inner tortoise." How do you get out of the fast lane for awhile?
~ T for Think: In the storm of organizational chaos, the winds are strong. How can you think? You need to raise the unanswered questions, weigh the knowns, and consider your choices.
Although the organizational chaos may feel like you are driving the Indy speedway, a period of focused, attentive, slow-paced thought, centering on the One Thing of most value to You and to the organization, may be just the thing for discerning the pathway forward.
Posted by Terrence Seamon, Nov 19, 2009