One of the real joys of coaching is the way that it creates a safe space for a leader to really explore their longer-term direction. Often we hear that people don’t feel they have time right now to step away from the day job for an hour or ninety minutes.
‘Maybe when it’s calmer,’ they say.
But the truth is that, without taking the time to step back and assess exactly what your priorities are, it’s much less likely that that calmer time is ever going to arrive. And every coach will have had the experience of a client arriving flustered and overwrought by all the current anxieties.
‘I’m not sure I’ll be able to stay for the whole session,’ they tell you.
But, invariably, when they leave – at the normal, agreed end time – less anxious and clearer about what they need to do to get on top of things, they’re certain that the session was time well spent.
The truth of the matter is one we all know well – that it’s a hugely unpleasant feeling to be so crushed under the weight of all the stuff you need to do that you can’t even sort out what is the priority to get done. Often if you reach that state it can be very difficult to stop yourself from doing-doing-doing and to make space for a proper assessment and prioritisation. This is exactly where external help and specific time assigned to thinking more broadly can be very useful.
Regardless of whether you have a coach or not, if you find yourself in this sort of situation why not think about whether it might help to spend even just ten minutes really thinking hard about your priorities. Maybe write a list of all the things you think you have to do. Then mark each as: Essential; Nice to Have; Unnecessary. You’ll be surprised at how much can go in those last two categories.
Don’t stop here, though: of those that need to be done, mark which you need to do yourself, or which you could get someone else to do. Either by delegating to your team (or even upwards!) or by hiring someone external to do it. Of course, getting a third-party to do something you might want control over can be hard – and it’s real money out the door – but ask if it is really worth holding up the critical activities, which may well be delaying revenue, because you want it just so, or are resistant to spending money on it.
Creating time and space to consider the bigger picture is one of the true privileges of being a coach – and people are always glad of it!