When you’ve tried everything

FrustrationSarah and I were in a coaching meeting, and she was frustrated.

“I’ve tried everything, and nothing is working” she lamented. She told some long, sad stories about the lack of enthusiasm from her manager, her team and others who were involved in new project she was leading and was excited about. She felt she’d tried everything.

I suspected that she hadn’t tried everything…..yet. She’d actually taken the easy route, simply delegating tasks for the project, expecting others to be as enthusiastic as she was. Engagement was unremarkable. Things were moving too slowly to meet deadlines. Her pent up frustration was beginning to show up in her daily interactions with others.

She needed to look to others and more deeply at herself to solve this. So I asked some questions to help her think, “What will it look like when things are working?” and “Who can help?”.

Bingo. Sarah realized that she could ask others what they needed to help them get excited about the project. In asking, she also found that she needed to take a look at herself and the way she interacted with others about it.

If you’ve been in a situation where you feel you’ve tried everything, take a look in these two places for possible new ideas:

Others: It can take a lot of courage to ask others what they want, what they think, or how they feel. And you get some crazy answers back sometimes. Remember, if you don’t like their answers, you have the power to choose which ones, if any, you want to do anything about. So ask them because they care, and because they’ve been thinking about this and may have fresh new ideas on how to make it work. Whatever they give back in their answers may spark additional new ideas that can help make the work they’re doing more interesting.

Yourself: It can also take a lot of courage to look to yourself as the source of flat-lining enthusiasm in the work your stakeholders do. But if you (like Sarah) spend all of your time “doing” things and none of your time “being” a leader, it’s time to turn that around. A good part of the formula for success rests with you and how you show up to inspire others to do the work with enthusiasm. What behaviors can you exhibit that will help others to see that this project is as exciting as you think it is? How can you connect and communicate in ways that will enable everyone to have a collective successful outcome?

When you feel like you’ve tried everything, there is always more work to do. Ask others what they need from you and turn to yourself to make the behavioral changes that will help everyone to be successful.

I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.