ACK! It’s Not Coming Together the Way I Want – 5 Moves to Get Back on Track

Okay, it’s not earth-shattering, but it’s an easy tableau to understand these principles. I love low-stakes examples helping us understand higher-import processes.

My beds will not arrive when the company said they would.

This summer I’m planning a move and, of course, there are many logistics to consider. I’m also in a new role and leadership position, so I have less capacity to think flexibly, make good decisions, and be creative.

Add to this dynamic, 10 days after we move, my dear sister-in-law and family are arriving in town and I deeply want to spend time and host them well. The visit is a gift. I want it to be warm and comfortable.

And, I don’t have the beds.

Literally, I’m two queen beds short!

The beautiful beds that I spent thousands of dollars on and timed exactly by the website information to arrive not too soon and not too late. They’re not coming. They told us this week, they’re caught in production delays.

So, again, this is not the end of the world. In fact, I hope by now, you’re smiling and whispering, “First-world problems.”

What may be valuable is how to consider the issue from a 30,000-foot level, as a leader. How do leaders handle it when the best-laid plans just aren’t coming together the way they were thoughtfully designed?

In your school leadership, have you ever worked out the design to the finest detail, only to have it side-swiped or fall apart? I know I have. And, from the front row, I’ve seen it happen to others.

Here are a few steps to help you get back on track.

Feel all the feels!

This step is an easy one to skip. Who needs to feel anything? This isn’t helpful.

However, in my experience, leaders who aren’t self-aware enough to realize their feelings of frustration, disappointment, grief, failure, and even anger, are the ones exploding in the board room or losing it at home.

Your emotions will demand to be felt.

So, be aware. What’s driving those feelings? What’s most important to you? Be attuned and care for your heart along the way.

I know in my example, the wish to host and show family love is very high value. So, I want good beds, comfortable linens, and time together over morning coffee. This value has been modeled to me for generations. It’s in my gene pool. And so, I have a few feelings about the upcoming opportunity.

Being aware of my feelings is the first step in dismantling the swirl they’re creating.

Of course, in our work and lives, there are significantly more important issues than the issue I’m describing. Recently, I came across this invitation to feel your feelings. I appreciated the time and healing it engenders.

Sometimes all it takes is to ‘sleep on it,’ a good journal entry, or a reflective conversation with a trusted friend.

Then, we are ready for action.

Accept it happened and decide to move forward

When I emerge from the emotion whether in a day, a week, or a month, I am ready to accept what has transpired, gone wrong, or fallen apart. Then, I decide to move forward.

Acceptance is an essential step. There is no single person to blame. Yes, there were missteps, mistakes, and even accountabilities that may need to be addressed. But, we need to deal with what is.

I can hear the phrase, “It is what it is” ringing in my mind.

When this statement is avoiding the emotional realities, it can be misplaced. However, when it is truly ready to be with truth, it is a word aptly spoken.

Now, the decision to move forward is solid.

The action, however, has to be retooled. Without stepping back and taking time, we run the risk of turning a negative situation into something even worse.

Reconsider the strategic objectives and why they’re important

What is our strategic objective and why are we driving towards it?

Essentially, this is a moment or reflective process taking us back to what matters most.

Clarity around our most deeply held values drives us forward. Additionally, when we define what matters most, we can think more flexibly and creatively.

In my example, this is about time for connection and creating comfort for our family and extended family. Now, how can we do this well?

All of a sudden, there are many different options. We’re trying to land one today.

Recruit those who can help

Often, at this juncture, we need to accept we can’t do it alone. Stuff has gone wrong. Things are broken. There are challenges beyond our control.

Like Harry Potter at the climax of The Deathly Hallows, in order to conjure the next patronus, we may need Luna and the team to show up with their gifts. You see, no one can overcome alone. We need each other. Especially when the sh** hits the fan. We need our team.

So, corral support. Our networks, teams, and supporting professionals need to be brought to bear.

Ask yourself:

  • What additional resources can be unlocked to create solutions?
  • Who needs to help me?
  • What expertise do I need at the table?
  • Who are the team members for this next climb?
  • How has this difficulty redefined the leadership requirements?
  • How will I free up time and energy to address this concern?
  • How does the timeline change? Who does that impact?
  • What supportive professionals do I need to mobilize?

These are just a handful of reflective questions that help you sort out how to proceed best. You see, anyone can act. A leader acts with a strategic purpose.

Do the next right thing

Now, the stress is behind us. The paralysis is gone. The emotions have passed. A definitive path lies before us. We’re fortified in our decisions.

So, do the next right thing.

Take action.

This is my favorite part. I feel so empowered when I can act.

Truly, this is the fun part. Smile. Life is too short to not enjoy it.

We’re liberated now to keep moving. Movement is leadership. The world can’t wait for us to make changes. The time is now.

Don’t give up.

Lean in.

Your magic is just what is required.

For the sake of the children,