Today was another great and exhausting day.  I decided to take in a couple of, what I thought would be, more intense sessions for me.  In the morning I attended Steve Smith’s ‘Power, Authority and Teams’ session and in the afternoon I attended Johanna Rothman’s ‘Coping with Change in Your Life’ session.

More than half the conference attendees showed up for the morning session which surprised Steve a bit and he adjusted well considering he admitted he wasn’t sure how it would scale.  There was so much that I learned in this session that it’s difficult to start writing about it.   Look for a future post and mind-map for more details, and for now, I’ll attempt to single out my one takeaway.

Oddly enough I will choose a statement that came from one of the participants, Michael.  Michael had brought a few co-workers who were also in the session and is an authority figure in his company.  He self-identified at the beginning of the session as having power in the organization he works for.  I was fortunate to be an observer in the group Michael was part of.  Long-story short, after the de-brief one of his co-workers that reports to him explained Michael’s leadership style.  While he is a figure of power, he displays the attributes of a great servant leader.  They mentioned he ‘walks the floor’, respects the people who report to him and leads by example, not by the carrot or stick method.

Michael said his philosophy was simple:

“We point the guns outside the boat in the direction we’re going, not inside the boat”

It was refreshing to hear that from a leader.  It was equally important to hear his co-workers echo that back when Michael was not in the room.  The topper was observing how he interacted with the group during the simulation.  I guess what I’m getting at is similar to my recent post about my statement that strong leaders don’t need agile.

I’ll admit I was a bit nervous about Johanna’s session on coping with personal change.   That’s odd considering I help organizations change yet feel a bit icky about change in my own life.  I expected this session to be intense and it ended up that a large number of folks attended which surprised Johanna.  I was a bit disappointed at first because I thought a more intimate setting with less people would have been more effective.  The power of this session came in the de-brief near the end where people explained their ideas about how to cope with change.

Again, it’s difficult to describe the feeling of this session and with a large and diverse group, the thoughts expressed were deep and profound.   The session was based around the Satir model and how people progress through this model.   The overall goal of the session was to figure out how to cope with loss as a result of change.  A change in your life may be self-instituted (you quit your job) or not (you get fired) and either way something is lost and you need to be able to handle that loss.

People cited ideas like redirecting the negative energy through activity (working out, playing an instrument) to retail therapy (going out and buying stuff!) to prayer and everything in between.  The one key takeaway was the multiple responses about focusing on what really matters in your life and never losing sight of that.   Regardless of what stage of change you are in setting perspective is important regardless of the type of coping mechanism you use.

My wife and family are my world.  Period.

I will share a bit of advice and suggest the next time your boss is being an asshole about a report or some other work related thing that often seems to have come right out of a scene out of a soap opera you step back and think about what REALLY matters.

At the time you may think it’s the most important thing but I can tell you it isn’t.  Learn how to cope with what DOESN’T matter by just letting it go or going to the gym to release the negative energy and remember there are 2 things far more important than work.

#1 Your health.

#2 Your family.

I need to thank Johanna for this.  I am fumbling to find words that can describe my deep admiration for her, and all the hosts’, sincerity and openness for sharing what they know.   I am completely exhausted and most importantly I feel I’m a better person than I was 3 days ago.