… before helping others,” I have just heard this for the umpteenth time, as I take-off. If you really think about it, this is not just a routine instruction before taking off but it is a principle in life. In fact, you can only help others, if you help yourself first.
A parent will be a less effective parent if they are exhausted, distracted, stressed. A manager will be a less efficient manager if s/he is under pressure, feels disconnected, lacks motivation. A Coach should not coach if s/he has not been coached her/himself. An addict cannot help another addict until s/he has been cured. A teenager may not be able to join a sports team unless s/he commits, prioritizes, eats healthy, sleeps well.
No matter who we are, what we do, where we live, we all need oxygen in order to help others. There should be no guilt around that – we are humans after all.
What do you need to do, to take in some extra oxygen to help others?
In the last 3 years, my goal was to write 1 blog every month. I was consistent, disciplined and felt control over my own agenda, wishing to inspire as many readers as possible and provoke thoughts. My last blog was five months ago when I wrote about the impact of not having regrets in life, inspired by the sudden passing away of my beloved father. Since then…nothing, no control.
Grieving has taken me into an unknown place and so far, it has been a revealing phase in my life. A phase of not being in control. Not being able to control sudden waves of emotions, feeling fragile, vulnerable, loosing focus and concentration and having difficulties making any decisions. It feels like the word “control” is being replaced by the words “letting it go”, a concept which I usually would not embrace so easily but is beginning to feel familiar.
Do I like it? Not sure but I do notice that I don’t dislike it.
In the last months, my gears have shifted from first to second and now to third. I miss giving workshops, coaching, networking and developing projects, however, I feel I am not able to perform at my best and I cannot control that. Instead of feeling frustrated, giving myself permission to letting go and being kind to myself is helping me.
(my father in front of our family chapel in Quebec, Canada)
Last week my father passed away in peace and serenity. He was diagnosed with a rare combination of blood diseases, as well as a heart condition a month ago. Among all the roller-coaster emotions I have felt during this time, the strangest feeling I experienced, after his last breath, was Joy. All I could do was smile and close his eyes…at that very moment. I was puzzled by my own reaction.
Don’t think for a moment that I was happy he passed away. On the contrary, as all friends and family know, we were each other’s best friends and very close. Together, we shared everything. Having left Canada 30 years ago, we worked hard on our relationship. Skype has been the umbilical cord to my parents so whenever we met up together, there was less pressure to talk all at once. We enjoyed “being in the moment.” I look forward to continue “being” with my mother as much as I can.
This last week, my inbox was flooded with an unexpected amount of condolences and memory sharing. In addition, a few emails shared their regrets. Regrets they had with their own parents around unresolved issues, managing expectations, simply lack of better communication. Till this day, they continue to carry this “bad feeling” with them.
Communication is the #1 issue I come across in all my work, as well as in my own personal life. All issues no matter what they are, always come down to how we communicate, what is said and especially what is not said. Good communication is ongoing, hard work. It must not to be taken for granted. Communication is not easy for everyone but it is a skill that can be learnt, at any age – you have to be open to it.
After the emails and phone calls, I began to understand the reason I was puzzled at the Joy I first felt. For the past years, my father and I had nothing left hanging, nothing left unsaid and no regrets. We were completely at peace with each other. Serenity is what we always worked for. This is the last gift we gave each other.
Now, one week later, I feel the grief, the tears, the emptiness and the sadness which I imagine will last quite a long time. That gift though…I will cherish forever, with a smile.
‘Tis the season for employers and employees to sit down and assess their year’s performance, establish goals for next year, evaluate what worked or did not work, share tips on improvements and hopefully celebrate as well. The same holds true for children and students who sit down with their parents and share their report cards, following a similar pattern to businesses.
Usually, when one hears the word “feedback”, there is a dissonance. There is an initial “oh,oh” reaction both from the givers and receivers and as helpful as it is, many of us struggle with how to present it properly or how to accept it effectively. “Feedback” should be constructive, not destructive, it’s not an attack, it’s a gift. So as a different perspective, why not call it “feedforward?” That word has resonance.
Giving “Feed forward”
Receiving “Feed forward”
Last Sunday evening my daughter and I went to the Opera House to watch Spartacus, Katchaturian’s famous ballet. Towards the end of the first Act, Spartacus and Flavia, his wife, bid farewell to each other in a powerful and emotional scene, like in many ballets.
However, this farewell was different. There was silence, dead silence. The orchestra stopped playing and the audience dove into total and complete stillness. The only sounds we could hear were the dancer’s ballet shoes softly brushing the floor and the couple’s heavy breathing. The calmness must have lasted a minute but it seemed much longer. At first, this silence felt awkward but as it amplified this dramatic farewell, it allowed the audience to process what they were seeing, hearing and feeling.
Silence is a powerful and effective communication tool that can be used both at work and at home, when the timing is right. It does take some courage to use silence and it’s not always easy to do. It feels like stepping out of one’s comfort zone.
In a world where speed seems to be a dominating factor and information is given and received to us by the touch of a finger, the idea of slowing down can be challenging. Whether you are asking a question to a colleague, want to make an impact in a speech or confront your partner with an issue, allow 15 seconds of silence and notice the impact it has on them and on you.
(c) 2018 Anna Jankovich, all rights reserved.