Verhanika IRL features real problems I am facing as a coach and consultant. Some are about specific clients and processes. Others are more personal. My hope is that by giving you a window into my own personal processes, you can see that I’m a human, too! And that’s what makes me great at my job.
I’m in the middle of a Strategic Planning process with one group that is proving to be a unique challenge. They are a very dedicated group of people who are excited about their company’s future. All show up fully, put in the work, and walk away with action steps they will undoubtedly complete.
But there is one…
One of them consistently sets my teeth on edge. Every time she speaks I am so interested and engaged in what she says, but I also get immensely triggered. I do a surprising amount of self-management with her and sometimes I don’t do enough and lash out in weird ways. She seems to understand that something is up with us as she is constantly checking in about how combative she sounds, or why she was “fighting” with me about a particular issue.
I don’t know how to tell her that there is something she does that is consistently a problem for me, mostly because I don’t think it’s her job to know it or to help me manage it. So far, it hasn’t impeded our ability to work together in a measurable way, I just want it to go away so I can be more focused with her.
So what is The Thing that is between us?
First, she is a protege of a person whose methodologies I find questionable. As a result, she regularly cites her mentor’s beliefs in our work and I have this overwhelming urge to say, “She’s WRONG! You are doing yourself a disservice by working with her!” But I remember that I was once seduced by a more powerful person who took me under their wing and ultimately turned out to be bad for me. When I was under that wing, I was convinced it was The Right Thing and no one else was going to tell me otherwise. Furthermore, she may actually be learning something from her mentor that I can’t see because of my clouded judgment. I have to allow the space that she is not me and this relationship is likely exactly what she needs right now.
Second, she has some beliefs about our larger industry that I find antiquated and limiting. She’s articulated some beliefs about the potential of women in the industry, her wants around being more spread throughout the community, and how she feels undervalued unless she is making her mark in a way that the larger industrial system privileges, i.e. doing “creative” work over more administrative, analytic work.
The trick is, I understand and agree with everything she says. I think she’s whip smart and can balance a high-level view of the world she embodies while at the same time making progress in day-to-day tasks. She is a powerhouse and will go far if she wants to.
I think she gives voice to all the parts of me that I find scary and intimidating sometimes. Despite the fact that I know I am sometimes held back because of my sex/gender, I don’t want to admit it. Despite the fact that I prefer being spread throughout the community in any way I can, I have to limit myself so I don’t burn out. And despite the fact that I know my ability to balance the creative and the analytic is an asset, I sometimes just want to lose my fucking mind in a creative process again.
So knowing this, moving forward, I plan to self-manage less around superficial emotions of frustration with her beliefs, and instead acknowledge that those beliefs are my beliefs and they are scary.
And that’s ok.
Her speaking to the scary things is what makes her valuable, and I shouldn’t stifle that or try and manage it away because I am scared of the conclusion she might reach and it defining my own end. And regarding her mentor, it is unfair for me to judge her based on her mentor’s beliefs. Though I want to rescue her, she might not need rescuing. I certainly didn’t when I was in a perceptibly similar situation. Without my own experience there would be a whole host of lessons I never would have learned, including how to make a killer floral arrangement.
So, chillax, V. She’s fine, you’re fine. Now get back to the job at hand and help her become the best damn whatever-she-wants-to-be possible.