Voice Over - What Do I Want to Be?

Today I had an invigorating session with a professional management coach. It’s part of a new programme my company is rolling out. The same group that does our employee assistance has an offering where leaders can sign up for a bunch of sessions to help work through leader-y problems in the people space.

Now those who know what I do at IAG are probably thinking, “But Toast you don’t manage anyone, so…?” Which is a valid point. Technically, this is going to be a service we provide predominantly to our people leaders who are running into challenges in how to work with others – whether they are struggling with a difficult employee or confounded by a political problem or just trying to wrap their heads how to work with a particular colleague. But this is a pilot and I’m one of the first people trying it and frankly… I think I’m supposed to go out and pitch the benefits of it afterwards. So here we are.

The session was energising. Among other things, it was super validating to find out that much of what I’m working on with respect to resiliency training, the Resiliency Gardening programme, and the throughline themes I’ve been helping to build and implement is actually based on #science. I mean it’s not like I pull this stuff completely out of my ass, mind you. I am a voracious consumer of popsci, blogs, podcasts, and business lit. Yet it was really gratifying to explain a thing and have someone who does therapy and org psych for a living turn around and hand me the name of an author, point to a book, or lay out a psych framework that verifies the approach.


So don’t mind me but I basically now have a few 100 hours of modern psych to read up on and this blog might get sucked into that intellectual rat hole for a while.

In the meantime, the thought that carried me back across the bridge and into my suburb by the sea after the session is one I have not had in years which was “what do I want to do next?” I love what I’m doing and the people I work with. It’s been tremendously interesting, gratifying, enjoyable. I really have spent the last few years getting up and WANTING to go to work. It’s enviable really. Great thing to have happen to you.

But I’m getting bored.

After today's session it occurred to me that I’m bored because I can see that my ‘patient’ doesn’t really need me the way it used to. I mean sure, the place I’m in right now… as a patient it does have a few bruises and scrapped knees and it is true that every once in awhile it picks up a nasty cough and I have to nurse it through that. But honestly, these folks pretty well have their shit sorted, at least in my division. I’ve become a bit lazy, a bit repetitive, and because of this less useful to them.

What I need is a place that is fundamentally broken so I can test out my new-found skills at healing sick companies. I have a lot of theories, a suitcase full of tricks, and a single experience and story to tell about how to do this. I have strong desire to crack my knuckles, pull on a face mask and operating gloves and get to work on a different organizational culture that is basically on its last legs. Even in the face of my own deep skepticism that we can ‘change culture’, I’m seduced by the notion that that is exactly what I’ve been contributing to, that there is science for why it worked, and – mostly importantly – it can be done again.

However, reality check is this. I don’t have a degree in this stuff and I have a data set of n=1. Moreover, at the risk of repeating myself, I don’t believe you can change organisational cultures. I also don’t want another job, Dean and I need flexibility over the next few years, and I don’t feel like working hard to set up my own consultancy, because I’m down to the bone lazy, ill-disciplined, and don’t want to build a practice only to get bored again and scatter the pieces off the board in a fit of pique.

What to do? A basic rule of hacking yourself is to start with the small thing. Hmm. I think it may be time to enrol in a uni and get masters in psychology, eh?

Don’t wait until you’re not scared to do the thing you want to do. Do it scared.” ~ Cheesy motivational poster on the wall at the therapist’s office