This summer, as you may recall, my mom spent some time in the hospital and in a nursing facility. The following story happened while we were in the hospital. It was a funny story at the time and I immediately knew that it would somehow end up in my blog. It is just too good to pass up. At the time it didn’t occur to me how this event had anything to do with our ability, leadership, or that sometimes we just have to give in to the universe and let…. well…. let nature take it’s course – so to speak.
So, mom had been in the hospital for most of the week. I was meeting with social workers, nurses, and many of my family members. Two of my cousins were in the waiting area and I went back to the room to see if my mom had returned. I walked up to the room. The door was cracked. I peaked in to see if it was ok to enter. Mom’s bed by the window, she had not returned. Her roommate in the room when I peeked in…THERE SHE WAS on the portastool, with a hospital gown draped over her. I was startled and a little embarrassed. I backed out quickly to shut the door.
TOO LATE! She spotted me. The conversation was priceless.
Her: Come in, come in
Me: Sorry (keeping my eyes up and diverted as much as I could)
H: It’s ok. I get to go home today.
M: That is great to hear, I am happy for you.
H: Yeah I finally went to the bathroom
M: Well…um… even better (how do you respond to that?)
H: Yeah, (she said, and the excitement was increasing) I haven’t gone potty since Saturday (This was Thursday).
M: Wow! (again, speechless doesn’t even describe my reaction)
Wait for it…
Her: Ya shoulda been here! (She DECLARED… the joy was filled with …dare I say… power)
Me: Yeah?!?!?!?!? (well alright then) I am sorry I missed that.
H: IT WAS GLORIOUS!
M: I can only imagine. Somehow… I know the feeling.
H: So I get to go home.
M: Well, I am really happy for you. Be well.
(I scurried out if that room as fast as I could a little embarrassed, a little shocked, a little giggly, and a lot of – I cannot wait to tell this story).
Thanks to that newly released (pun intended) homebound roomie for adding quite a bit of levity and laughs to that difficult time. You should know the word GLORIOUS was quite the tension breaker for the remainder of the summer.
How’s he gonna work this one out?
Let me equate this little story to the power of intention, change, and celebrating everything. Professor John Kotter’s book, Leading Change, (1996) discusses the eight-stage process for creating major change. He posits (I love that word) that change goes through this series. You might remember that I wrote a little bit (Liminal Space Feb 2014) about William Bridges transition model are three steps: Ending, Neutral Stage, and Beginnings. There are some similarities.
Kotter’s 8 Steps
1. Establishing A Sense of Urgency
2. Creating a Guiding Coalition
3. Developing a Vision & Strategies
4. Communicating the Change Vision
5. Empowering Broad-Based Action
6. Generating Short-Term Wins
7. Consolidating Gains & Producing More Change
8. Anchoring New Approaches in the Culture
Change is not going to happen without a little sense of urgency. Working with a group, we have to approach this with some sense of common purpose and developing the plan of action. Communication is probably the piece that brings the most trouble. This is a tricky one…so much can be misinterpreted. Most of the time, it is contextual. The same exact message can be interpreted (and spun) many different ways. It depends as much on the life-space of the receiver as it does the sender. Communication…. be careful with that one.
Creating a movement (the pun here works, but it really isn’t what I mean) is a way to empower more of the collective. Short-term wins and celebrating the move through the neutral phase of change will help with camaraderie, morale, and consolidating the gains. Over time, the “new normal” can be established toward the change goal.
Of course, we have to remember to use our powers for good. There has to be some assessment and due diligence that the change is really for the benefit of the collective.
Moving back to the roomie and her sense of urgency to go home, I could wander through the stages and make some connections. You get the picture. She had a mission. She had to surrender to the situation at hand. My interaction with her was nothing less than celebratory. She was telling everyone she could. I don’t know for sure that she was, but I would guess that was the case.
We all have the ability to set the intention for our goals and dreams. At times, we have to know (perhaps trust is a better word) that it is going to work. We might not understand the absolute process and how all of the pieces are going to come together, but we have to know they will. At each point, we can celebrate the short-term and understand the conspicuous benefits (the tangible things) we are receiving as much as we can. Consolidate that energy and move it forward, which is focus and determination. There may be some bumps along the way as we move toward change. Things do not always go as planned, but that is ok. The valleys are there to provide context for the peaks, you don’t have one without the other. Think about a flat line on an EKG, that isn’t good. You want to see the ups and downs. Leadership is about being able to create that coalition. Summon the energy to move ahead, whether it is internal fortitude or externally with people. Anchor what you can and move the rest out of the way. You cannot celebrate the gains if you are carrying all of the residual. New normal might be a little odd at first, but before long, it is just normal.
What are the peaks and valleys you are dealing with this week? Are they personal or work related? What small gain can you celebrate along the way? What can you exclaim to those around you…. “Ya should have been here, it was glorious!”