Cy’s team was in revolt.
They had just learned that they were to move their offices for the fifth time in one year.
They had muscled through the first two moves with a positive outlook. Moving was a pain, but if that was what the business required, everyone wanted to do their share.
When they moved the third time, they began experiencing serious headaches. Literally. Their new space had unacceptable levels of lead. So, they moved a fourth time – this time to a beautiful, new space. Then came the final straw. Construction issues would require them to move again. Five times in one year.
Cy’s speech about maintaining a positive attitude and doing their part did not land well. Team members had had it with the disruptions. They were a high-performing team! Why were they being required to live out of boxes? They were angry at Cy. Why wasn’t she fighting for them? Why was their team having to suffer like this?
Full of righteousness, Cy marched toward the CEO’s office. She wanted to talk with him. Now.
The CEO wasn’t available. Cy’s mentor overheard her conversation with the CEO’s assistant and looked in to see what was going on. She invited Cy into her office to talk about what had happened.
“I told her my team was suffering and I intended to put a stop to it,” Cy recalls.
“Why is your team suffering?” she asked.
Cy explained she and her team had had it with the inconvenience of moving, all the disruptions to their work, and the unfairness of it all!
“Yes, the reality is that you’re having to move a lot. But why are your team members suffering?” her mentor asked again.
At that moment, a light bulb went off in Cy’s mind: “We were not suffering because we were moving. We were suffering because we had refused to adapt,” writes Cy. “We hadn’t grown our ability to work in different ways, to be mobile and to be ready for what’s next.”
The big insight?
“Reality wasn’t hurting us. Our unreadiness for what was next was causing our suffering,” Cy writes.
Instead of suffering, she and her team could develop the ability to adapt quickly to the new working conditions.
The takeaway for us?
Our circumstances aren’t the reason we can’t succeed; they are the reality in which we must succeed.
Cy went back and called the team together. Instead of fighting, they would get skilled at being mobile. The next time they were called to move, they would be ready, and it wouldn’t hurt.
Complaining, venting, wishing things were different, or giving opinions on why it’s a bad idea do not change reality.
Instead, we can ask: “Why am I suffering?” If our suffering is based on reality, we can choose to re-frame the situation and seek to understand what is being asked of us. What new skill or capability is required?
This is the real work of leadership and leading teams.
“As long as people continue to believe reality is hurting them, they will remain victims,” writes Cy.
When we learn to separate suffering from reality, we can ease our pain with readiness, Cy states. “Attachment and delusion cause suffering; reality does not.”
Reflection: What is an issue I am struggling with right now? Define the reality of what is being asked. What new skill or capacity is being required?
Action: Take five minutes today to journal my answers to the questions above.