‘Honestly, I really don’t know what to do anymore. This whole thing is like one huge obstacle course,’ announced Sally (not her real name) in a session recently. If her words didn’t tell me that she was having a tough time, her body language certainly did: slumped in her chair, head in her hands, eyes shut.
‘Imagine I’ve never seen an obstacle course,’ I said.
‘Hmm, okay,’ muttered Sally, wondering what was coming next as I handed her a marker pen. One wall of the room in which we were working is designed to be used as a giant whiteboard.
‘What does an obstacle course look like? Draw it for me on here.’
After another quizzical look, Sally started drawing and I left her to it for a few minutes. When I returned with coffee, the wall was covered with colourful drawings and annotations and she had a smile on her face. I asked her to take me through her work.
‘Here’s me, here’s my team at the beginning of the race. These are the obstacles – tyres lying flat on the ground to step in and out of, a slippery log bridge to run along, wriggling through huge pipes, a rope swing into a cargo net, and mud slide and then the last one – the Wall of Doom!’ she announced with a laugh.
‘Okay, what’s happening there?’ I asked, pointing to the stick figures in front of the Wall of Doom.
‘There’s Pete at the top of the wall, leaning down to pull me up. Jan and Tim are giving me a boost up so I can reach Pete’s hand,’ she explained. ‘You know, while I was doing this, I realised that obstacle courses aren’t designed in order to stop you completing the course. The point is that you work out how to get around, or through, or over the obstacles. And as I drew this, I realised that we’re helping each other out to overcome the obstacles. I just need to work out who’s best suited to help out in each specific aspect.’
And with that in mind, we sat down to analyse each aspect of Sally’s current challenging project and she came up with a plan she could share with the team.
Today’s pebble for your thoughts: are you facing an obstacle? How can you climb it, go through it or work around it?
If you’re looking for a team-mate to give you a helping hand on your obstacle course, why not email me to see how we could work together?
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.