Some of you may know that I’m a coach for ASCENT’s Transformational Leadership Program (TLP). Earlier this week, in our monthly meeting, one of the members was bemoaning the fact that they didn’t realize how much reading and time the program was going to take. They had a full plate with their work and were active in their personal activities and just didn’t have the time. Another member mentioned that they had signed up for the program knowing it would be a journey and the more they learned the more excited and interested they became. The thought came to me, “What’s the rush? Are we simply trying to get through things so we can check a box? So we can get another line on our resume?” I was curious to understand why the first member put a work program in their personal activities list. They took a minute to think and then said, “That’s a good question!” Often, programs that grow and develop our soft skills, like self-awareness, self-reflection and emotional intelligence are seen as “extras.” They’re great if I can find the time. That’s an interesting paradox to sit with. It’s about the work and productivity. It’s about the people and engagement. I would like to offer that it’s not one or the other, it’s yes, and.
In my experience, true learning and growth comes in the process. It comes with sitting in the unknown or uncomfortable. It comes with making a mistake and learning from it and moving forward. In my spare time, I’m writing a book. When I started there was a lot of momentum. Ideas were flowing, words were filling up chapters, and then the edits started getting more and more demanding and complex. I heard my inner voice say, “I just want to get this finished. I just want this to be over! What was I thinking of – writing a book?” I stopped myself and realized I was in the rush. I just wanted to check the box. I’m working now to enjoy the discomfort. To challenge my thinking and to enjoy the process of what happens in the middle and what it’s teaching me about myself.
I recently heard author and organizational psychologist, Adam Grant interview Dolly Parton on his podcast WorkLife. Adam asked Dolly, “What’s your biggest regret?” Dolly answered that her biggest regret was not having any regrets. What she did felt right at the time so she did it and moved on. I think there’s something really valuable there. We may be involved in a project that gets put on hold, changed or even discarded. We may feel like all our time and energy was wasted and we may have regrets. Yet we don’t lose anything we learned or put into the project. We keep all that with us. And we move onto the next thing. We are living in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world. Things will always be changing. Challenge yourself to enjoy the process and get curious about what happens in the middle.