Success takes us to difficult places. Imagine getting the big promotion and finding the engineer from hell heading the department from which you need cooperation. A flood of feelings can surface – rage, fear, anxiety, going blank, etc. What to do?
First, let me say it is best to avoid trying to get the feeling to go away. Embrace it. Why is that? First of all, it will only intensify if you fight it. Second, in that intensity you can lose yourself and cause havoc to occur. Let’s explore.
The feeling can stem from a number of things. This blog is limited to one source, which has to do with an aspect of the weaker part of psyche. So why bother with this weak part? Shouldn’t one just add to strengths and push through? You can but there is an issue with this when taken to an extreme. A strength taken too far leads to weakness based on a one-dimensional approach to everything. Many people take this approach. Look at it realistically, though. You’ve probably worked with someone like this. Can you recall the feelings you had when around this person? Why should others feel any different about you if you try acting similarly?
If we get down to it, there is a big plus to addressing emotional intensity within oneself. It can work when dealing with others, as the following story will show.
The assignment was in Manhattan with an important client. After checking in at the hotel a phone call was placed to the client. None of my support materials had arrived. Panic!
Going to an office supply store the night manager of the printing department was given my copy of the materials. He promised I’d have copies by 7:30 AM the next day. I felt like a winner!
Arriving promptly the next morning at 7:30 there turned out to be no copies. The day manager became “testy,” to say the least. Rage and panic surged within me. I started escalating with him and use my strength of pushing through in a focused, insistent way to get things done. Before going too far with that approach a question fell out of my mouth, “Does he do this to you often?” The manager stopped dead and asked, “Do what often?”
“You know, promise at night a job that has to be delivered on your shift and then he just goes home without logging the job or starting on it.” He was surprised and his emotions turned on a dime. “Yes, he does this to me all the time. Serving my customers means a lot to me and I am stuck with his messes!”
I asked, “What can we do? I need your help.”
He replied, “What do you need to get through to noon today?” Immediately I selected the bare bones that would get me by until noon and decided to throw myself on the mercy of the client by making the commitment in my mind we would complete the assignment but for just this morning the work would be rearranged a bit. I was able to get to the client’s on time, abridged material in hand, explain the situation and get down to work. The remainder of the print job was not only done by noon but they delivered it free of charge. The next morning I went back and thanked the day manager.
So what was this about? In a word, “Acceptance”. Acceptance of Powerlessness. The night manager had taken the day manager and myself hostage. The unfairness of life was squatting on our heads.
The freedom to act came through the acceptance of the powerlessness and shifting on the spot to empathy with the day manager and answering the question, “What can we do with what we have?”
Those intense feelings that were starting to surge were about not having control. They had a message within them. They were life knocking on the door going, “Hello, time to go a little deeper to get a little stronger!”
I learned a great deal about letting go of emotionality in that split second when the question came out.
—Through his firm, Center for Managing Change, Gary Monti has over 30 years experience providing change- and project management services internationally. He works at the nexus between strategy, business case, project-, process-, and people management. Service modalities include consulting, teaching, mentoring, and speaking. Credentials include PMP number 14 (Project Management Institute®), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification, and accreditation in the Cynefin methodology. Gary can be reached at email@example.com or through Twitter at @garymonti