Let It Snow, sung by Doris Day
The only person I have met for a mini tweet up in an airport is the author of today's enchanting and informative post. Sara Wyke lives and works in Geneva and is a courageous HR professional, CTI coach-in-training and wonderful mother and wife (she is British and with her Belgian husband has two little girls whom she refers to as Tiny and Bean). Although a quiet voice, she is a social media enthusiast, active in the ConnectingHR community and is often to be found on Twitter, her handle is @TeenyTinyBean.
♪Snowflakes that fall on my nose and eyelashes♫
I adore watching Tiny and Bean, they are amusing to watch and each time I pause and indulge in parental pride of watching them my heart fills with joy. I also learn from them, more than I thought possible. Not just learning my own limits of patience, but much more. The other day I watched as they were walking along the wall in front of our house, Tiny was determinedly walking as only a 4 year old can do. Each obstacle blocking the path led to her jumping off the low wall, walking around the obstruction and climbing back up. When she reached, what I considered to be the end of the wall, the place where it narrows to just a few centimetres wide, she refused to give up. Instead she called over her big sister to hold her hand. With the support of Bean's strong (that’s sarcastic... Bean is a skinny thing) hand, she continued the few meters to where the wall actually ended. She happily jumped off with a huge grin and clearly satisfied that she had completed the challenge. Where I saw the end, she saw a possibility to try something more daring.
How many times in life do we perceive the end of a path, closing a door because we couldn’t see the way ahead clearly? How often do we turn away from a challenge because the path has become unrealistically difficult? And yet, with some additional support from those around us, we could continue to the real end, to the satisfying jump for joy at the end of a job well done.
I have often closed the door due to the perceived difficulty, such as the time I cancelled a training session because the logistical organisation required to find a suitable time to get the 24 presenters in a room together seemed unsurmountable. I am a chicken and have in the past just avoided that hard path instead of asking for support from those around me. I have always found it difficult to ask for help, it felt like defeat and admitting that I wasn't any good at my job. But that was just my perception. My colleagues consistently give me great feedback and, seeing my big workload, often offer help... which I usually turn down. How mad is that?
So when my lovely UK team mate told me that cancelling this particular meeting was now causing a problem and suggested I delegate to him... I had no choice but to accept. I did so grudgingly and felt rubbish about myself for the rest of the day. And then something happened, I got an email from another colleague who thanked me for having the courage to share the workload. She was often in a similar position and rarely had the courage to ask for help, but she appreciated my honesty that things were too hard. She saw it as an invitation to also share how she was struggling with some things. We laughed together about how ridiculous it is that we find it hard, when we are telling employees all the time to ask for help.
We discussed her challenges and, for the first time in ages, I was completely honest with someone about how hard things were. She offered support in a specific area and I readily accepted. In return, I offered to help her with a technical issue, so that she could crack on with another project. We both came away from the conversation with renewed energy and determination to reach the end of the wall. And the path didn’t seem quite so hard, or so lonely.
If only everything in life could be so simply resolved.
But it can be... I hear a voice in my head say. I remember the quote "You can’t push the river, it flows by itself".
Instead of using lots of energy to go against the flow, is it not more effective to go with the flow? I think of a snowflake, it doesn’t waste energy trying to fall in a particular trajectory. No, it just floats where the wind takes it and falls exactly where it should. This is the approach I am now trying to use, floating where the wind takes me. And I am grateful that the wind seems to be taking me on an amazing journey in my career. A conversation with our head of HR a few months ago is leading me to a special place where I am starting to use my creative streak more and more. I would never have thought 6 months ago that I would be asked to create images to be used to represent the company values. This has given me such a boost in confidence. I would have never dared dream that I could incorporate my doodling into work, if I had not gone with the flow I may never have had the chance to do this.
And yet the snowflake is a symbol of another challenge I face, you see I am flakey.
There I said it. I am that annoying person who has loads of ideas but can be guilty of not completing things. Maybe I think the path is too hard, or maybe I am distracted by the next sparkly thing, sometimes both. Sometimes its pure procrastination. I get frustrated with myself, and angry that I allow myself to be this way, but it doesn’t always get me doing things. Even as I type this, I am avoiding doing my 2015 L&D planning, because I just don’t know where to start. The thing is, I too jump for joy when I finish something, and I love that sense of achievement even in something really simple.
So as I commit to floating like a snowflake and asking for help from people around me, I also commit to reach the end of the path so that I can spend more time jumping for joy with a grin on my face.