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  • Writer's pictureJosh Vaisman

2020 F#&king Sucked - A Celebration

In the understatement of the century I'm going to say 2020 did not exactly go as planned for many of us.

It's OK. You can shout it out into the ether.

"Didn't go as planned, Josh? This year fucking sucked!"

Of course it did! You had challenges piled on top of adversities all compounded by worry and concern. And all that was before a global friggin' pandemic.

Then COVID hit and we all freaked out we'd lose our jobs, or worse.

While we didn't lose our jobs we may have secretly wished we did. In short order every cranky human being on the planet decided to take their frustrations out on us, all while adopting record numbers of puppies and kittens.

And just when things seemed to calm down and hit a palatable groove, it all started over again.

As far as I'm concerned, 2020 can get Parvo and fuck off.

And still, here we are.

There is Darkness. There is also Light.

In the world of positive coaching psychology we like to help people see the light in the darkness. You see, all of us cooky humans are especially skilled at noticing the shit in our life.

It's hardwired into our brain. And for good reason.

When the shitstorm hits vulgar on the "Stink-O-Scale" it can be damn near impossible to smell any flowers. But there are always some flowers.

A few months ago I was coaching a hospital owner. She came to me with a desire to become a more effective positive leader. Implicit in this was a belief she was not a very good leader to begin with.

As we explored her circumstances and goals the topic of communication came up. She had been told on multiple occasions that she often reacted to stressful situations in a way that made the staff afraid of her. This broke her heart.

She shared a couple of examples with me and I eventually asked her how she would like to respond. As she described her ideal response I took notes. When she finished I parroted back what I heard and then asked:

"Help me understand where you think you are right now. If 1 means 'I'm as far away from my goal as possible' and 10 means 'I've got this response thing mastered' where are you now?"

She thought for a moment, made a face that said embarrassment, and responded, "I'm probably a 4 right now. I really do struggle to have productive responses when I'm stressed out with my staff."

4 is not 10 for sure. And in her mind, all she could see was how far away from 10 she was. This was disheartening for her, and heartbreaking for me to see. Because I knew she had genuine intentions she struggled to bring to life.

But a 4 isn't a 1 either.

This Year Blew A$$. Let's Celebrate It!

As the year is coming to a close and we look toward the potential promise of 2021 I think you've got a golden opportunity to both honor the shitstorm you and your team survived this them smell the flowers that grew despite the storm.

All of you have survived. That means something worked.

So, here's an activity I think will energize you, energize them, and help propel you into the holidays and new year with a bit more vigor and confidence.

Here's what I'd like you to do.

  1. Gather the team. Schedule at least 15 minutes with the team together free from distractions and interruptions.

  2. Set the stage. Explain to them you'd like to do a quick review of the year. Start by honoring how awful it has been. This year really did suck. That's real and valid. So validate it. AND....share how proud of them you are. They got through it. They may have stumbled at times, even been close to giving up, but they persevered and survived. That's something.

  3. Ask the question. Then ask them to rate the year. You can do this as an open discussion, go from person to person, average their scores, have them submit a piece of paper....whatever you prefer. But ask them this - "Let's rate how this year was for us as a hospital team. If a 1 is 'absolutely nothing went right/we are on the verge of shutting down' and 10 is 'the best possible year/impossible for 2021 to be better', how would you rate 2020?"

  4. A 4 Isn't a 1. Chances are the score(s) will be low. Chances are also quite good it's not a universal "1". Even if it is a 2 there is something there to celebrate. Because a 2 is not a 1. So explore that with some version of this script: "OK team, obviously this year was really hard for all of us. You've rated it a (2 or 3 or 6 or whatever). And yeah, that makes sense. A lot of crappy things happened to us. And, a (2 or 3 or 4) is not a 1. Which means some things went right. Some things worked. You were resilient in many ways. So let's take some time to share what worked this year? What did we accomplish, despite the challenges? How did we come together? What did we learn that will help us in the future?"

I asked the hospital owner why she rated herself a 4 instead of a 3 or 2. She paused, smirked, and thought about it. I gave her some space to think.

Eventually, she started sharing with me the things she already does well. She even had a couple examples of times she caught herself gearing up to react in an unproductive way and was able to respond productively instead.

These were the strengths she already had. I next asked her, "How can we use the strengths that make you a 4 to help nudge you up to a 5."

She quickly came up with a couple of things she could try and practice.

The next time we met, she enthusiastically shared stories of her successes.

When our coaching relationship came to a close I asked her one more time to rate her skills in this area. With a big smile on her face she said she was up to a 7 and saw herself getting even better over time.

Sure, 7 isn't a 10. But it sure made her happy!

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