What’s your emotional age?

One of my twin 3-year-olds was acting her age and freaking out that her Lego car door would not open. After one try, she started yelling and scream-crying. I asked her if she wanted help and she snapped back with, “NO! I’M NOT PATIENT.”

As any good mom would, I busted up laughing which made her even more mad. I tried to offer help again, but she was not having it. So, I let her freak out and get flustered for a few minutes until the door magically opened and instantly she went back to being happy.

I rolled my eyes, but it made me think. What things I’m I too impatient about to get help with? What things am I taking longer to solve because I’m too annoyed to see a different solution? What things am I over reacting to?

I’ve seen many of my clients get so wrapped up in the drama and frustration with their lives that they don’t even look for possible ways out. They just want it to all go away when really, just going through it will solve the problem so much faster.

Take for example that doc you need to write. When your project comes along that requires a 6-pager, most of us throw a tantrum in our heads because we don’t want to do it. We procrastinate, try to enlist others to help write it, or ask around for a similar doc we can repurpose. There’s not wrong with this, but often it creates a lot of emotional drama.

I say, drop the tantrum and know you are going to write the doc and get it done. Image how much better you will feel once it’s written. So instead of dreading it until presentation day, just write it and move on. Doc’s are never actually “done” so decide for yourself what “done” means and stick to that.

Or maybe your manager is taking credit for your work. You could stomp around and tell everyone how unfair it is and try to prove yourself to your skip level. Or you could talk to your manager and ask them why they feel they need to do that. One way is faster and filled with a lot less emotional frustration.

The next time you find yourself acting like an emotional 3-year-old, get clear on why. Ask yourself the following questions and be honest in your answers.

  • Why is this bothering me so much?
  • So what?
  • Now what?

If you are feeling stuck and need help dealing with constant frustrated, let’s jump on the phone for some free coaching. Space is limited and I currently have a 2 week wait so sign up HERE.

4 ways to deal with ambiguity

Amazon purposefully has ambiguous asks of each employee. As a company, we know what the end goal is, but we are constantly trying to figure out how to get there quicker, more efficiently, and in a way that improves the customer experience. 
 
But I’ve watched so many people struggle as they try to navigate their way through ambiguous asks, but when you break it down into these simple 4 steps, it’s nothing you can’t handle.
 
Your brain wants to know the exact steps and to-dos to get to the end result. You are literally wired to freak out when we don’t have all the answers because that feels dangerous and your brain is ALWAYS on the lookout for danger. But not knowing HOW to reach your goal is not actually dangerous. It just feels hard.
 
Following these 4 steps and help you skip the freak out part and get right to work.
 
1.     Be clear on the result you are trying to get: Notice I did not say, know every step and process, and detail on HOW you are going to get there. Just make sure everyone is aligned on what the goal is and how you will measure success.
 
Maybe your manager asked you to increase engagement with your product. Start by establishing a clearly defined goal behind that ambiguous ask.  It might be something like, decrease customer attrition in week 5 from 23% to 10% measured by app launches.
 
Now that you know exactly what result you are working towards, you can get to work, right….?  I’m guessing you are thinking, I know what I’m trying to do, but how do I do that?
 
2.     Identify the obstacles: Next you have to identify the obstacles you think you’ll run into in reaching this goal. You probably don’t know all of them today, but write down everything your brain is freaking out about. HINT: Those are the obstacles.
 
It could be things like: How are we tracking app launches today and how do I get that data? What happens between week 4-5 that drives the large drop in engagement? How do I get dev resources when I don’t even have a plan?  How can I directly tie back what we test to the change in engagement?  What ways can we communicate with to drive engagement? Where do I even start?
 
3.     Come up with a strategy for each obstacle: Now that you know what challenges you need to start tackling, come up with a plan to tackle each one. Don’t worry about it being the “right” plan, just start thinking of ways to overcome these obstacles.
 
Things like: Attend BI office hours next Tuesday to understand how we measure app launches today. Ask BI team and coworkers if there’s a query with this data. Walk through customer experience of the product. Look at key drivers in engagement during weeks 1-4. Meet with TPM to understand Dev sprint cycles, intake process and how things are prioritized. Meet with marketing team to understand communication channels. Meet with PM on other teams that have similar challenges.
 
4.     Focus on the ONE next think you need to do: To be clear, you still have NO idea how you are going to do this. This is still a very ambiguous ask. The goal might not even be possible given the available tools you have today. BUT, all you need to focus on is the ONE next thing to do. Keep taking just one step at a time. Talk to all the people. Dig through all the data. Then you can come up with a plan, write the doc and start taking action to see what does and does not work.
 
Above all else, try to keep a realistic perspective. Leadership has not solved this problem yet and does not know exactly what to do which is why they hired you and asked you to help. If you knew exactly what to do, you would probably be their boss. So, step in, get to work, and don’t worry about the unknowns. Figuring it all out is the rewarding part of your job.
 
If you want help figuring out how to move forward with your projects and feel confident while you do it, let’s jump on the phone and come up with a plan together. Sing up for free coaching here.

Believing “I just want to be happy” is a lie Part 2

Last week I talked about how we don’t actually want to be happy all the time so telling yourself you “just want to be happy” is not helpful.
 
Life is a 50/50 thing. 50% of the time we are going to be happy. 50% of the time we are going to be sad. There’s a full spectrum of emotions in between happy and sad, but 50% of the time we are going to have negative emotions and that’s actually a good thing.
 
Most of us logically understand that to know what joy is, we have to have felt sorrow, but when life happens and we start feeling those negative emotions our brain freaks out and tries to tell us we should “just be happy.”
 
People try to argue against the 50/50 and say they want it to be more like 80/20, but as Brene Brown says, you can argue with reality but you are going to lose every time.
 
People get sick. Babies die. Accidents happy. People get fired. Bad things happen to good people.
 
It seems like accepting this means we are giving up and not going to try to fight for what we feel is right, but the opposite is true.
 
When you push against the reality of these things happening, you spend all of your time trying change the past which is impossible.
 
When you accept them as facts now you can move forward and ask yourself, now what? What do you want to do now that your friend has cancer, or you lost your job, or your manger sucks, or that terrible accident happened?  Now what?
 
By answering now what, it sets you up for moving forward in a way that actually helps you feel so much better. Now maybe you are going to help fundraise for cancer research, or start applying to jobs to find work, or tell your manager what you need to grow your career, or volunteer to help people in need.
 
Moving forward and trying to help feels so much better than being angry because it should not have happened.
 
Life, it’s a 50/50 game and accepting that is so much more empowering than just wanting to be happy.
 
If you want help figuring out what this looks like for you, let’s jump on the phone and figure it out together. Sign up for free coaching here.