How many times does it take for me to get the message I am not truly in charge?  How do you consider how much authority and power you actually have, and what is “out of your hands?”

In the midst of our current pandemic, with huge impact on our economies as well as our health, the leaders, teams and coaches I am coaching, mentoring and supervising are struggling with what is in their hands to do to fulfill their visions and serve their clients and customers and sustain their organizations while taking steps to protect health. This includes making decisions to work home based, virtually (which I have been doing for two decades) as well as adjusting staff levels and how to keep and pay gig and hourly workers. I have frequently written and spoken about how to thrive in our VUCCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Culturally Complex and Ambiguous), and this crisis takes it to a new level which can result in higher anxiety, grieving over the impact, and a sense of overwhelm.

Do you ever feel like just curling up in a ball until it clears? I have, which is totally contrary to my optimistic nature.

The safe, supportive space coaching provides for thought partnership in the midst of uncertainty and volatility, with new challenges, is experienced as more valuable than ever.

My leadership clients who are still able to focus on 360 interview feedback and map out their development plan to increase their effectiveness as leaders despite shifting to working from home and the uncertainty swirling around them inspire me. Mentor coaching and supervision clients also continue to develop while dealing with suddenly home schooling their children, social distancing and shifting to virtual work.

From my 2014 blog, on my way to three months in Asia Pacific, the series entitled “Untethering” (I am thankful for how that experience prepared me for today’s pandemic): I am “practicing what I preach” (a US saying), or in this case “practicing what I present”.  In my “Centering in a Sea of  Change” presentation I speak to choosing whether to try and desperately hold tightly to that (sometimes false) sense of control, or trust and have faith that a greater power than me is in control and learn to relax and ride the waves.  “Relax and ride the waves!” I remind myself and others, whenever possible. Sometimes we do need to step up and take charge and make crucial decisions, and sometimes it is out of our hands. (like how long this pandemic will last.)

How are you viewing and responding to who is really in charge, professionally and personally? How can you trust, have faith and relax when you are not in charge or in control?

2020 update: I am thankful for four activities that restore my faith and trust, so I can relax and ride the waves:

1.Centering multiple times a day not only resets my body and flooded brain for better decision making, but also reminds me I am not alone, there is a greater power at work. (Note: if you do not yet have a centering or mindfulness practice, I invite you to start now! The link is to my 5 minute “how to” video. Doug Silsbee said if you do it ten times a day it will change your life! Reflecting back on the past six years, I would say that despite coming from a long line of worriers I am now less frequently pulled into that state)

2.Time with my clients reminds me of the capacity in our world for the greater good.

3.My time each week with my toddler grandson and baby granddaughter remind me both of the future we are still working towards as well as the faith and joy to be experienced along the way.

4. Time with community: I am hosting “virtual coffees” for coaching colleagues, including graduates of our Culturally Confident Credentialing Mentor Coaching Program and coaching supervision as well as a coaching group I am a part of. I’ve used this successfully with organizations as well. Additional resource for you, your team, your organization: 6 Steps to Successfully Communicate While Uncertain, my vlog which became my most popular Linkedin Pulse article.

What experiences have contributed to your preparedness for this pandemic?

More from my 2014 blog: Evidently I am requiring multiple reminders that I am not in charge.  I am accustomed to feeling in charge, and like I need to be in control, in both my coaching business and my personal life.  As a coach, backed by string theory, I believe we have a minimum of 11 options available at any given time.

And yet I have been reminded frequently lately that while I have many opportunities to exercise choice, some things are simply out of my control.  Looking at the flight plan screen in Korean on my flight to Seoul, I truly sensed many parts of my journey are out of my hands, like the flight. And I will not be able to appear to be a native, or to read the characters to attempt to guess at the words.

And my internet connection here in Indonesia.  I am not sure I will have the patience to load the pictures for my blog! (5 attempts so far without success) And issues with my phone.  And whether the driver from the hotel would be there to greet me at the airport.  And elements of the programs I am presenting or co-presenting in Jakarta, Adelaide, and Seoul.
Bali arrival

The good news: my flights were all safe (two out of three delayed); the hotel driver was there to meet me at 1am at the Bali airport, and Sharon Honner and I met poolside to finalize  the ICF South Australian Chapter program.  Continued lessons that I am not always in charge that have not been turning out so well: my phone services.  Even after multiple phone calls to customer service and a stop by the T-mobile store.  Can you hear me, T-Mobile?
Bali SA ICF pool planning

2020 update: what seemed challenging six years ago pales in comparison to what some are facing now.

How are you responding to reminders you are not always in charge?

Apply for an Unlock Potential Strategy Session with me to explore how you are handling our VUCCA challenges.

To our success, we are in this together!

See you next week!

Marilyn O’Hearne, MA, MCC

#unlockallpotential Culturally Intelligent Executive, Leadership, Team and Mentor Coaching; Supervision
First published July 16, 2014