Have you ever experienced a situation at work or perhaps even in your personal life (the two are often related) where you felt like the weight of the world was on your shoulders? We all have, and looking back, many times we find the problem itself only accounted for about ten percent of our concern while our response to the problem was ninety percent of the challenge. So why is it we allow ourselves to get so wrapped up in the problem rather than focusing on the solution? Why is it that we allow challenges in our lives to weigh us down instead of trusting in our God-given abilities to manage through life?
Have you ever had a life coach help you through a challenge you were facing or point out opportunities and help you maneuver through the situation at hand? Before answering that, let’s walk through the story below, and hopefully the answer will lie at the end of the path and help you through a current challenge.
If Only You Understood What I am Going Through
Margret was a successful Regional Manager of Loss Prevention and a natural leader who always achieved incredible results. She often drew praise for her accomplishments and was driven by a desire for future success. In fact, she was being considered for a promotion to Director of Loss Prevention, a position she has worked her whole professional life to achieve. Now so close to achieving her goal, she is planning out her future and contemplating what she will do when she receives her promotion.
To further highlight her accomplishments, she just received her year-end shrink reports and, as anticipated, achieved record-low shrink numbers. As she concluded her regional conference call, the phone immediately began to ring with congratulations for her shrink numbers and what appears to be a shoe-in promotion to Director. After many calls, Margret is high five-ing her staff on the way out and thinking I have this in the bag, and it’s time to celebrate.
Margret then made a call to her close friend and said, “Let’s have dinner tonight. I have some great news.” She was filled with joy over her recent shrink results, completely happy with her organization, and just waiting to hear the words Margret, after your success as a manager and a glowing interview process, we would like to offer you the position of Director of Loss Prevention for the West Coast. Imagine the joy and contentment this must bring as she finally achieves her lifelong goal now just inches away and in arm’s reach as she anxiously anticipates when she will hear the news.
As expected, a call came from the Vice President of Loss Prevention requesting for her to fly to the corporate office. She was so elated that she called her peers at work telling them of the call and her expectations for promotion, and they cheered her on as they await the news. When she entered the corporate office, she noticed that two other well–respected managers are waiting as well. She thinks to herself They must also be informing others that applied and did not receive the job of their decision as well.
Margret was absolutely correct. The other managers were brought in out of respect so that they could hear directly from the vice president that they were not selected for the job. They were both given a positive and constructive plan reviewing what they needed to work on to be considered in the future. As the other two managers exited their meetings, they both expressed minor disappointment, but both whispered to Margret, “Congratulations.” At this point, she was so excited she was about to burst. She responds to both managers with, “Thank you so much.”
It’s finally that time. Margret was called to the office and walked in with confidence. She immediately greeted her vice president with, “Hi, it is great to see you. Thank you for taking the time to see me.” Her vice president, Linda, asked her to have a seat and offered her a bottle of water. Margret graciously accepted the water and sat directly across from Linda. Linda sat down, opened Margret’s file, and began to tell her how much she appreciates her achievements. She then congratulated Margret for achieving record-low shrink numbers. Margret, attempting to be humble, simply said, “Thank you, Linda. It was due to great leadership and a team effort.” Here it comes she is thinking… We would like to offer you the job of Director of the West Coast.
But wait, why did Linda just close my file? Why is she starting to give me the impression that I am not going to get the promotion? My peers who interviewed were already told they did not get the job. I have to be the pick if there is no one left!
Linda said, “Margret, I know you have really been looking forward to being promoted, but I have decided to hire someone from outside the company, and he accepted the job last week. In fact, Ted will be starting in two weeks and will be your new boss. Margret, are you ok?”
Complete silence lingered for what seemed to be an eternity. Margaret then responded with a faint, “Yeah, I’m ok—but why? I’ve worked so hard. I’ve always done everything I was asked to do. I’ve accomplished what no one else has been able to do, and my team loves working for me. I just don’t understand.”
Linda replied, “Margret, no one can deny that you’re extremely valuable to our team and the organization. No one can take away your achievements, but being a director requires more than being a great manager. It requires a whole different set of competencies that go along with the skill set. While you’ve achieved great success as a manager, we’re looking for a leader who possesses the ability to achieve results, but also builds great teams. They must successfully partner with multiple facets of the organization. As it stands today, we felt as though Ted was more qualified.
“Margaret, I know that you’re disappointed by the news, but I do have a developmental plan for you along with a mentor from Human Resources who will meet with you monthly to go over your plan. You can also call your mentor whenever a situation arises and run it past them. We want you to be successful, and we want you to achieve your goals. Working on this plan will help prepare you for future promotions. The three areas I’d like you to work on are as follows:
• Leading Courageously: “We would like you to avoid simply saying what is expected and challenge the status quo. A leader will challenge a statement or position even in uncomfortable situations. Right now, you tend to think that leading courageously means building friendships with people. I would like you to focus more on building partnerships.
During the interview process, you stated several times that your team loves working for you, and for the most part, that is true. However, on your 360 review, three competencies were identified as opportunities for you to grow. The plan we have put together will address these three areas of development while teaching you how to have difficult conversations and lead courageously.”
• Confidence: “We see tremendous ability in you, and your business results support that. However, at times we see you needing more reassurance than others, and when that doesn’t come, you tend to panic or get anxious about your performance. Confidence does not equal arrogance. It simply shows that you are a strong leader who can get results, challenge people, partner across boundaries of the organization, agree to disagree at times, and stand your ground on what you believe is right using a professional response.”
• Partnerships: “People may generally love being around you, but being liked is not the same as building a great partnership. Your business partners need you to be honest with them and tell them what they need to hear—not what you think they want to hear. It also means having the perspective to understand where they are in their workload so that you strategically pick your battles. For example, I received a call from a Regional Director last week. He was telling me how much he appreciates you, but also said that at times you don’t seem to understand that the area you manage is only one part of the business. That doesn’t mean what you’re telling him isn’t important, but it may mean that it’s not the most important challenge he’s facing at the time. Being a good partner requires understanding what each other has to accomplish and to working together—sometimes pitching in to help in areas outside your direct span of control to provide needed assistance. In this way, you create a relationship that’s built on trust and respect.”
“Margret, you don’t need to be perfect; you simply have to tweak your performance to improve in these areas. If you follow the plan, you’ll see your competencies soar to a more executive level while achieving considerable self-satisfaction. Let me leave you with this: if we didn’t believe in you, we would have never asked you to interview. We wouldn’t invest the time planning for your future as a leader in the organization. It’s up to you to decide what to do with this plan, but if you embrace it, the possibilities could be endless.”
Easy for You to Say
Margret arrived home extremely disappointed and feeling as though everything she’s worked for had been lost. With little confidence left, she sought counsel from her closest friend. As they meet to discuss the details of what occurred and why she wasn’t promoted, something unexpected occurred. Margret’s friend very courageously told her, “Linda was right. You’re not ready for the position yet. But you can be if you listen to the coaching she gave you. The choice is yours. You can feel defeated, or you can pick yourself up and accept the challenge ahead.”
Margret sharply responded, “That’s easy for you to say. You have no idea what just happened to me. You don’t know how I feel.”
Her friend responded, “No, I know exactly what you’re going through, and I understand what you’re feeling. I also know that you can and will achieve this position if you stop feeling sorry for yourself and lead courageously.” “How could you ever know?” Margret responded. “You’re a successful vice president, and everything has always fallen into place for you.”
Her friend replied, “Yes, I am a vice president, but things haven’t always been easy. You may not understand that today, but one day you will. I know this is hard for you to understand and accept, but I want to do more in my career as well. In fact, I have many of the same areas of opportunity that you do. What I am trying to say, Margret, is take some time and allow things to play out a bit. Work on the areas addressed and gain the confidence needed to exercise your abilities.”
I Wish I Were More Like You
As the weeks passed, Margret was back working. While she’s doing much better, she still felt a void she must soon deal with. She wanted to achieve her dream of being a Director and was faced with an incredible challenge. She knew that to become the leader she wants to be, she must face her inner demons and tackle them head on. Understanding what lies ahead, she was even a bit fearful of the process.
A month or two passed, and as Margret was walking home from work one day, she bumped into her good friend. “Margret, how are things? How’s work?”
With a sigh she replied, “Work is good, but I haven’t worked on my plan yet.”
“Why?” her friend asked. “The challenge is yours alone, and you need to face it.”
Margret responded, “I just wish I could be more like you. You seem to have all the answers. You excel in areas where I’m not so good, and you have great confidence in yourself.”
Her friend responded, “Margret, you know that’s not true. You know what I had to do to get to this point. It’s not been easy, and there have been many obstacles to overcome along the way. You are very much like me. In fact, you may be much more like me than you care to admit.”
History and Life Experience Is a Coach
History and our experiences in life can provide great coaches if we’re willing to learn from them. I faced this exact circumstance years ago when I was working on becoming a Director. Margret is me reminiscing of a tough time in my own career and applying the lessons learned to help her friend/me. All of us experience trials and challenges in life. But if it’s also true that ninety percent of our worries never come to pass— which I truly believe—then why are we so bogged down at times? Why do we have such a hard time learning from the trials and challenges of the past? The answer lies both in the trial and in the challenge.
Whatever tough times we may be facing in our careers, whatever promotions we may be going after, whatever challenges face us, there is a good chance that we have faced similar challenges before. In fact, there are always lessons to be learned from past trials that can help you today. Consider, for example, your toughest trial. While not everyone can say it was in any way a pleasant experience, most can say they worked through it. Why feel down on yourself? Why feel like you’re not worthy? We should all do our best to face these trials and manage through life’s challenges with perseverance, faith, and conviction that each trial is a life lesson that can provide growth and a positive learning experience.
Like Margret, there are times when we all feel that someone or something has let us down. Sometimes we let ourselves down. But one thing I have come to realize is that we should never give up or give in when facing these challenges. We should always strive to find the confidence to achieve our goals. While humility is one of the greatest attributes that we can find, I also believe that meekness does not mean weakness. I want to be a courageous leader who takes calculated risks because I am confident that as a student of the game, I will learn from my mistakes and the mistakes of others who have walked this path before me. In so doing, I truly believe we all can be a better leaders who display courage, humility, and the ability to overcome our fears and opportunities.
I will leave you with this thought: Walter Payton rushed for over 16,700 yards in his Hall of Fame football career. While known to this day as one of the most prolific running backs of all time, he never forgot the fact that along the way, he got knocked down about every five yards. There will be times when you will be knocked down as well, but that doesn’t mean you should leave the game early. Get back on your feet, and keep running until you’ve accomplished what you set out to do; reach out to build bridges with leaders who helped build our wonderful occupation, loss prevention. The choice is yours to find a mentor who can help you accomplish your goals.
About the Author
Ken Warfield, CFI joined Regis Corporation as Vice President of Asset Protection in February, 2014. He brings 20 years of experience successfully developing, implementing and leading asset protection programs. Previously Warfield held leadership roles with Golub Corporation, CVS Caremark, Ratner Companies, Home Depot and Caldor Corporation. Warfield is a Certified Forensic Investigator and holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from Southeastern and Wake-Forrest and a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology: Criminal Justice from Mount St. Mary’s University.