The title for this blog post is one of the excellent coaching questions from the insightful bods who create Embracing Mindfulness coaching cards. Simply asking this question allows you to acknowledge that there is such a thing as an overly complicated life! It also allows you to consider that this could be the case for you, and that you might want to change it.
How does it happen?
A complicated (work) life comes from a good starting point. Maybe you’ve taken on a challenging role – most high-achievers do. But maybe it’s got a whole lot more complicated in the past months? Or perhaps you’re someone who finds it easier to say yes than no? The adage “If you want something done, ask a busy person” is spot on – we are those busy people! It’s underpinned by a chain of related phenomena. Your competence is obvious to others. Because of that you are offered more complex work to do. Because you like to grow and see challenge as a route to growth, you don’t say no (click here for a list of top five books on this topic). You probably don’t like to let others down. Perhaps you find it difficult to assert yourself in certain situations or around certain kinds of people?
Other times, a complicated life comes from our approach to situations. The ability to stand back from a challenge, see the key parts and then plan a solution is a skill worth developing. In the meantime, perhaps you’re someone who gets stuck in, analyses every part of the issue, and creates a solution for each part of the problem? Say hello to an overly-complicated life!
And it goes without saying that few of us have only one role in life. Much of the complication and complexity of life comes from juggling our different roles, wearing so many different hats. Our life roles – parent, child, carer, friend, partner, husband, wife – are not ones we can easily discard and nor would we do so lightly. But they do lead to layers of complexity which defy spreadsheets and other planning tools.
Let’s be clear. We can’t completely uncomplicate our lives and nor would we want to. But most of us would like to be in the coping zone more often, rather than the chaos zone.
Can’t I just talk to family and friends about it?
My guess is that if you’re reading this, then you have probably tried talking to your nearest and dearest about your complicated life. In return, you may have experienced support, but often alongside either judgement or fixing (or both!). Our friends and family have good intentions but they, like you, may be stuck in patterns of behaviour that don’t necessarily give the best results. They don’t realise it, but their responses may not sit well with you. And because your relationship with them matters a lot to you, you find it hard to tell them that you don’t want their advice.
So how is executive coaching different?
Supporting someone in a busy and challenging role as their coach is about more than asking key questions. It’s also about suspending judgement and not giving advice. When did you last feel able to share exactly how you feel about something and not worry that you would be judged? And how often do you share your thoughts, fears and concerns only for someone to tell you that it’s not that bad or what you should do to fix the problem?
Executive coaching brings many advantages. As well as asking those awkward questions, I also probe. I share with you what I’m seeing and hearing; all the nuances, the slight grimaces and eye rolls, the shrugs, the quieter tone, the slightly clenched jaw. In short, all the “data” which tells you that there’s an issue dying to be explored (but which you don’t notice) gets collected and shared. Whether you’re a leader and manager in someone else’s business, or running one of your own, it’s hard to coach yourself through tricky situations. I know, I’ve tried!
And then what?
Once I’ve probed and shared, I listen, and listen and then listen some more. If an action plan is what you’re after, I’ll help you to write one. If you think that making your life simpler doesn’t require a plan, think again. I’ll make sure that you’re crystal clear about what each step requires, and test your commitment to making change happen. To my knowledge, nobody leaves a coaching session with me feeling more agitated than when they arrived. Creating a safe space in which to explore work – and life – challenges is my responsibility, as is supporting you in the final few minutes of a coaching conversation to transition back into your “ready” state – ready for whatever work throws at you, or ready to sign off and go home.
Go it alone or find a Thinking Partner
If this article resonates with you, you might like to explore whether this is the right time for you to be looking for a coach. If so, please get in touch and book a Discovery Call. All it takes is 30 minutes of your time. Uncomplicated. Straight forward. Worth the investment.