When my husband said we were asked to move to a giant sandbox on the other side of the world my stomach churned so hard I had to sit down.
How was this possible? We said we would go ANYWHERE in the world except – THERE! Scenes from movies and the news melded with my own fears and questions were fired off so rapidly my husband could not reply.
A “yes” wasn’t possible if I could not change my thinking:
- From the losses to the possible gains.
- From the challenges to the possible opportunities.
- From fear to faith.
Years ago I read a book called The Dream Giver.
It’s a beautiful little book that emphasizes that each one of us is born for a purpose. As children we often see this as our big dream. Often between childhood and adulthood we forget the dream or walk away from it because it seems impossible. And then one day we are reminded of the dream again and we make the choice to pursue the dream or to let it die forever. Then the book helps you anticipate and prepare for the challenges you will encounter as you journey from where you are to where that dream is.
I purchased the book in 2003 shortly after it was published, simply because I liked the author. As soon as I opened it I was hooked, because I had a dream as a child. It was a dream that I forgot all about as life happened. And then in 1999, I it came back full force. In 2001, I took my first very clear step toward the dream.
Since 2003, I’ve referred to that book several times a year. It’s highlighted, filled with notes, scribbles and pages that are bent back. In October 2010 I referred to it constantly as I launched a new consulting business in a city I had never lived in and knew no one but my husband.
In November 2012 just as my new business was gaining momentum, my husband was asked to accept a position a half a world away, and this quote from the book filled my mind…
Last week, I visited a new friend that has been an expat for about 4 months in a country that is nothing like the one her family comes from.
When her husband accepted the position, they were promised life in a compound – a guarded and gated community with streets, and parks, and amenities that vary depending on your location.
The day before they left home to begin their expat lives, they were informed that there was a housing shortage in the area they were relocating to. (When it was conveniently too late to get their previous jobs back or easily jump back into the life they had.)
So they boarded the plane anyway. (Would you feel slightly trapped?)
And for the past four months the two of them and their young son have been sharing a two-room efficiency apartment. They have a love seat in their little kitchen and all three of them share a bedroom with their son’s toys. While their shipment of household items sits in storage.
Since their arrival they’ve been advised that it will probably take a year before they can be moved onto a compound, and presented with one alternative that gives them some immediate choices for housing but removes other benefits that they had counted on.
My friend’s situation is mild in comparison to her neighbors:
Once upon a time, I hired a fun-loving woman with great recommendations, strong experience, and impressive tenure. (True Story!)
Not long after she joined our team she began to struggle. Things that she thought would be easy to learn were harder than normal, which chewed away at her confidence, which made it even harder to learn, which ate away even more confidence. Sometimes when we spoke privately, tears flowed.
At one point she shared that in her last role she was so confident that she would put on a pink feather boa. And when she wore it – everyone knew a special announcement was going to be made. Here she wanted to be her authentic self, but was afraid…
Each time we spoke, I would remind her:
- She was grieving. (She had just left a role that she knew backwards and forwards and upside down in a place where she felt understood, appreciated and loved and moved and started a new job.)
- She really was smart, capable, fun and wanted!
- She was focusing more on her mistakes and emotions than on what she knew she could bring and that was causing her to struggle harder.
Several years ago I was in a role that was getting busier and busier. As the demands and distractions poured in I began to feel less energized and lose my focus.
And as my focus shifted, so did the focus of the entire team that I supported. With no corporate retreats in our future we needed to figure out how to refocus and recharge.
1. Create an EXPERIENCE:
- I brought some tiny matchbox cars to a meeting and asked everyone to take a car and personalize it.
- Then I gave them a bunch of foot-long crepe paper streamers and asked them to use a streamer to list one thing that was causing them to lose focus. (And they could use as many streamers as they needed to.)
- There were so many that the streamers quickly covered the cars and we talked about how hard it is to drive forward when you feel so covered up that can’t see the people you are working with, let alone where you are going.
- Then I brought out a rocket. (The kind you buy in a toystore that you can actually launch.) The rocket was “beautifully decorated” with each of our objectives, and we talked about how looking up and focusing on where we were going could help us prioritize the demands and distractions, decrease our confusion and stress and increase our focus and results.
And yes – when we achieved all of our objectives we drove to a field and shot off that rocket!