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  • Vanessa Anstee

Seeing clearly why you're stuck and frustrated

We humans are the funniest creatures. Of all the problems in organisations I believe that self-deception is the most common and damaging. It’s little acts of self-betrayal that lead to self-deception and keep us stuck and unfortunately many of our colleagues unintentionally collude with us. It’s those tell-tale responses like, “I’m fine” that make me wildly curious about what kind of fine that really is.


Working with a client recently I was reminded the power of having someone outside who can build relationships with us and speak the truth. This particular client wrote in an email to me “Thank you for helping me to think through my challenges. Sometimes it takes that outsider to come in and deliver the harsh, but necessary message - stop messing around with the stuff that one might find interesting but is inconsequential or which one is unable to influence. Instead pull my finger out and get on with doing the stuff I should be doing. You were very kind and articulated it much more gently, for which I am grateful. I am now excited about the challenge that I have committed myself to.”


Let’s unpack what was happening.


This client was a busy manager and like many of my clients, wanted to achieve the important things on his to do list but kept getting distracted. He would start of each day with clarity on his top priorities only to find at the end of the day he was left wondering why he hadn’t achieved what he set out to and being self-critical for his lack of progress.


His in-box received about 300 new emails per day and as a consequence he was constantly trying to respond. His team would keep asking him questions and he’d find he would have to stop what he was doing and answer their queries.


During our coaching I was keen to understand some key aspects:


  • What he wanted to be different

  • For the sake of what

  • Where the block lay – mindset, skills, action

  • What else was going on – his motivation and willingness


What became clear was that there was clarity on the goal and it really mattered to his bigger why. The blocks lay in the following areas


  • Being on a “push” agenda from other - boundaries

  • Liking the short-term buzz and dopamine hit he got from fixing someone else’s problem

  • Not holding others as resourceful or solving their own problems

  • Reacting to the concerns he had instead of focusing on the things he knew he could influence

  • Being self-critical instead of playing to his strengths and affirming himself


It never ceases to amaze me how as humans we have the ability to get in our own way and be completely unconscious to what’s going on. We get stuck in our reality and it’s really hard for us to imagine another way of seeing, being and doing.


Once my client received the reflection of what he was doing from me he was able to take charge of the pattern and change it. The impact? Increased productivity, holding others accountable for their actions, ability to step into his vision more clearly and find a kinder and more fruitful way of being with himself and his colleagues.


In his words the impact was, “one of the things I have learnt through this process is that one needs to quickly identify what is truly important, to prioritise that, and to work on that (and only that) until it’s finished.


Recognising patterns in your behaviour that are keeping you stuck and frustrated? Working with me as your coach means that I will tell you the things that no one else wants to tell you, in service of what you really want but secretly fear you’ll never have.

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