Life is Full of Lemons

Workplace Coaching Blog

Life is Full of Lemons

In July last year, I was in excruciating pain. Walking, standing, sitting. It all hurt.

(It’s since been sorted, so that’s just to give you context.)

Around this time I had a really great opportunity to speak at a large Conference at the Sydney International Convention Centre. It was a terrific opportunity, a really great audience, and I wanted to do a great job.

I had planned everything. I had a beautiful presentation prepared for the 90 minutes, and I was really sure that it was going to be terrific.

Now, what happened was, on the day of the event, despite getting to the venue in plenty of time, I found that I had to park about as far away as you can get from the ICC and still be in the ICC car park. What that meant then was, that I had a really long walk in front of me. Remember that I’m finding it really challenging to walk without pain.

So, I had this really extended walk, which was through a number of car parks, and then outside the ICC, and then inside the ICC, and up the escalator, and across one of the halls and down another escalator, and finally the reception area. And then I was informed that actually, the hall that I was speaking in was quite a long way away again.

I had to retrace a lot of my steps. So, by the time I got there, I was not in great shape. I was in a lot of pain. I was really struggling to even stand up straight, and I knew that I had to get ready for this hour and a half long, high impact presentation that I wanted to give.

And I’m sure that we’ve all been through those kinds of situations where you feel like nothing is going right. When I got to the hall, we had to move things around a little to get the set up right. There wasn’t a lapel mic, which I prefer. There was only a mic on the lectern, which meant that I wouldn’t be able to move around – which perhaps in hindsight was a good thing because I wasn’t very mobile at that point anyway.

Anyway, the point is we often find ourselves in these situations, where we have planned really well, but it just doesn’t turn out the way that we want. And instead of having an ideal set of circumstances, we’re really operating with the bare minimum of passable.

It was very important to me that I do a great job. And while the setup hadn’t been great, and while I was feeling pretty awful …. I knew I had an hour and a half of high energy delivery to do. So I just had to get on with it.

And you know what? At the end of my session, I was really pleased. I got focused. I had a highly interactive session. The audience really enjoyed it. They engaged. I got lots of terrific feedback. And as a consequence, I had the opportunity to work with some great clients.

But for me, just raising the audience’s awareness of what I was talking about, the importance of coaching in the workplace, and what they could do in their own way, every single day, in almost every conversation, was a great outcome. On reflection, I achieved everything I had set out to do…and more.

I think, that what we sometimes forget – I know I do- is that even when things aren’t great, we can still do great work. We can still get great outcomes and have things go right even when it’s not perfect.

Part of it is how we measure success. So, for me, if I deliver a message, a presentation, and one person gets one great idea that they can use and apply to improve themselves, to develop themselves, to develop their team, to change the environment in which they operate, that’s a great outcome. Anything over and above that is a bonus.

So, I think sometimes we have to ease up on ourselves and the situation, because it won’t be perfect. Then we also have to recognise that any progress, any great or little outcome, is good…maybe even great. Let’s acknowledge that and then learn from it, and build on it.

So, even when it’s going wrong, great things can happen. As a leader, whether you are just leading yourself, you’re leading your tribe, you’re leading your world, you have huge influence and impact in terms of what happens when you’re faced with those less than ideal circumstances. How you respond, how you step up, will determine the outcome you get. And what you’re modelling for the people around you will influence how they show up as well.

So, I would love to hear about a situation you found yourself in which wasn’t ideal. What outcome did you manage to create, and what contributed to that?

Have a great week.

Warm regards,


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