Tuesday, 25 June 2013

When the world's less than perfect - what's your reaction?

It's been a bit bumpy lately.  My work is taking me outside Melbourne regularly.  I'm often working in a place I've never seen and have had no influence or input into the arrangements.  As a hired gun, this is business as usual.

I was recently working with someone for the first time on a particular program.  It's a program with which I'm so familiar I can facilitate it without reference to any of the paperwork.  The program has many different styles of engaging people, involves three rooms and video cameras, delicate timing and a particular set up for all of the rooms.  I have no control over any of this, but the impact of getting it right or wrong is enormous.  Last week, we encountered problem after problem with just about every aspect of the logistics and resourcing. My cofacilitator was becoming increasingly frazzled as she tried to juggle the competing demands on her time during the brief window available to prepare everything before participants started to arrive.

These difficulties were frustrating me too, but I'm very clear about what I can control and the boundaries of my job.  As I sent the person with local responsibility away to resolve one of the issues, my colleague shook her head and asked me how I could just trust that the problem would be resolved.  On one hand, she had a point.  The local coordinator was the person who had not paid attention to all the detail, so in many respects the problems were created by them.  On the other hand, I had no capacity to do two jobs!  I had to let the person get on with what they needed to do.

I had no option but to trust that person.

At first glance it can seem that I work independently, but this is not correct;  I work in a team.  All of the people in that team have different roles and many of us are never in the same place together, yet we all rely on each other.  I need them to fulfill their roles or I can't fulfill mine.  If I fail to deliver then all their work is for nothing.

This week I'm somewhere different and again the world is not perfect.  Lots of little things are not as they should be.  I've got to fulfill my role anyway.  So I take a breath and relax and adjust to the world that it is, rather than resenting the fact it's not the world I need it to be.

Observing reactions of different people is really interesting.  I'm sure that my reactions now are very different from how they might have been a year or two ago.  Understanding what I can influence and what I need to accept is a great thing to have gained.

So what's your reaction?  What do you do when things aren't as they need to be?  Do you roll with it or do you shut down?  Or perhaps you get angry and frustrated?  What could you do instead?

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