Coach’s Challenge for 8/29/11 “Making a Difference”
Good day, team.
This past week I worked with two teams at two companies in two locations. At one location, I found myself standing at a whiteboard in a conference room talking about team dynamics as the team nodded in agreement about the challenges of dealing with others. At another location, I stood on the deck of a boat, watching whales swim just 20 feet away as the team ooh’ed and aah’ed.
What kind of job is this, I wondered? In all my wildest dreams, I never would have imagined many of the amazing experiences I’ve had while working for a living. In many ways “working for a living” is exactly what some of these experiences have been for me. My work has expanded my life and given it meaning. Each day I am given the opportunity to make a difference in my own life by making a difference in the lives of others.
I consider myself extremely lucky that a decade ago I experienced a mid-life crisis on several levels. I began to realize how unhappy I was with almost all aspects of my life. I was out of alignment, and each day this gnawing inside me became more and more painful. With the help of a coach and a therapist — as well as a health crisis that kicked me in the butt — I began to make better choices in my career and personal life.
Then one day, the coaching profession, very much in its infancy at that time, offered itself up to me when a close friend suggested, “Hey, what about coaching?” I thought he meant volleyball.
It’s funny how that one casual conversation changed my work life profoundly. Coaching has given me the opportunity to touch people’s lives in a way that I never thought possible. As I approached my 50s, making a difference became more and more important to me. The ability to offer something that helps people improve their lives is at the core of my joy.
This past week, I was inspired by one team because of how honest and open everyone was with one another. Managing difficult people is frustrating, and I respected the efforts of these managers as they worked to find good solutions and assume the positive intent of their people. Change the scene and team members, and I was again in awe of a different group of people who continue each day to try to make their company a better place to work. For many of them, the past few years have not been encouraging or successful. A lack of clear vision or mission and many changes at the executive level have left them feeling hopeless at times. And yet, they continue to come back day after day to make a positive difference.
In both cases, I was amazed by the dedication and willingness to serve others. I’m grateful that my job allows me to provide them with guidance in their quest to be better for themselves and make things better for others.
This week, see what makes you happiest in your work life. Perhaps it’s watching your people develop as you mentor and manage them. Maybe it’s your ability to bring a team together to keep everyone focused and engaged as they work on a project. Some of my clients find joy in acting as individual contributors by making a process easier for a team. Others have become subject-matter experts and enjoy providing insight, vision and expertise to their team.
Three wonderful quotes come to mind on this subject. This week, I hope one of them inspires you to make a difference for yourself and others.
“This is the true joy in life — being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” — George Bernard Shaw
“It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.” — Tom Brokaw
“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” — Edward Everett Hale
Have a good week!
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