Crossing the Tulgey Wood: 3 reflections from a leadership coach on navigating our new (temporary) reality

March 23, 2020

A recurring theme in working with my coaching clients is this sense of dread, often followed by paralysis, when facing the uncertain, the unknown. 

Many of them come to me for some change they want in their life and/or work and to be able to bring that about they need to learn to walk through the Big Unknown...will this work? Is this what I am supposed to do? Is this who I am supposed to partner with?

This dread of the unknown was so obvious in the middle of one of my sessions at the end of last year that my client brought up the imagery in Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland movie...to her it felt like she was in the Tulgey Wood scene in which a path appears to Alice's great relief, only to have a broom headed dog show up and erase the path... 

 

As of recent, we have collectively been thrown into a Tulgey Wood of massive proportions in which once clear paths have been erased and things have turned upside down.

 

Reflection  #1

 

From my experience as a coach I know that in the journey through the Big Unknown, whether on a personal or collective scale, we need a Compass. We connect with this inner Compass by bringing into awareness the elements at the core of our identity: our core values, a sense of our inner leadership and our sense of purpose in the world. These don't change fundamentally, no matter what happens around us. 

 

Decisions big and small in situations we have never faced before are going to challenge us at an increasing rate in the next weeks and months. Knowing and feeling our inner Compass will help us make conscious choices, faster. Take time now to go inward, reflect and connect with this inner Compass, to get a clearer sense of who you are and what matters to you most in this "wild and precious life". 

 

Reflection  #2

 

Before asking: "What should I do?" slow down and think "Who do I want to be?" in these circumstances. Our actions flow from our perspective - from our mindset, from the way we think and feel about the situation.

 

There are infinite ways of being - bring out the paint brushes of your imagination and design who you ARE in the eye of the storm. You are at choice.  Are you the agile nurturer, the protector, the innovator, the instigator, the planner, the architect, the entrepreneur, the cheetah, the sprinter, the poet, the healer... ? Feel free to mix and match, depending on the circumstances. (Bonus: watch out for common inner narratives that bring out the Victim, the Villain - making others into villains - or the Helpless. These perspectives are often dis-empowering and counter productive.)

 

Reflection #3

 

Finally, and importantly, allow yourself to feel. Create moments of indulgence in which you visit with your emotions and discern what is here and now in the range of emotions that usually color your inner world. Only 36 percent of people are able to recognize emotions as they occur. This often leads to irrational actions or counter productive choices.

 

There is also a release of tension that happens when we connect with our emotions, when we visualize them and experience through our senses where we perceive them in our body. Increasing our ability to recognize, name and be with our emotions - as intense as they may be - allows us to increase our emotional and mental agility through these confusing times. This app is excellent in helping you learn the language of emotions and expand your emotional awareness.

 

Our consciousness and creativity are the most vital tools we have to navigate these unpredictable waters. Let us intelligently use these inner resources, now more than ever!

 

 

"Through Maria’s coaching, I found a thin veil between me and the unknown before me. Rather than be frozen by the fear of that unknown, I merely need to take minor steps in that direction, enough to just pierce that veil. Then the veil vanishes and that unknown darkness is flooded with light. I was just afraid of the dark.
Now, with Maria’s help, I have begun a voyage of discovery, exploring a future that I had only imagined. I’m finding that I am far more capable than I had believed."

Former client, Google program manager and entrepreneur

 

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