Heading into a media interview for the book last week, I was ready to roll. Excited. Prepared. I’d done all my pre-work, set my intentions, taken really great care of myself. I got on the call, the host was running late (for great reasons), the audio needed some tweaking, and right before we launched they said something about “I don’t know how this is going to go over with our audience, let’s hope they like it”.
The lovely “bubble” I’d created for myself to “hold my space” popped. All of a sudden I was nervous, not fully present, trying to figure out what the heck that comment meant, trying not to take it personally, and then… we were live.
And I was in need of a serious reboot. In the moment. No time to go figure it out, meditate, call my bestie, cancel — we were live, I was on, it was go time.
A while back I facilitated a meeting with a leadership team. We got a ton done, people were jazzed, the “container” was tight, intentions solid, next steps in place. Woot.
As we were closing out, literally in the last 3 minutes, the lead executive of the team went into an external processing monologue saying “This is all great, but I really don’t think we’re going to be able to pull it all off.” From here he continued to second-guess all the work his team had done that day. Fretting. Lots of fretting. You could feel the energy of the room sink. Inspiration drain. A solid day’s work frought with fretting. The group left. Bummed.
What had been an inspiring group collaboration just 10 minutes ago, was now just another crappy meeting.
There are about one hundred ways these situations could have been handled. (Fifty of them would have been good.) But I go back to basics.
In the case of my interview, when the container was blown at the beginning, I rebooted. Took a breath. Reconnected with my intentions, my energy, and my presence. A few minutes in, after “getting my legs back”, I was cool, we were cool. It was all good.
The interview went well, the host was awesome, we had a great connection, and a positive contribution was made all the way around.
In the case of the meeting, where the container blew up at the end, that was a little different. That executive had some clean up to do on the back end. And they all had some great learning and new agreements to apply moving forward as a team.
In both of these scenarios, I walked away reflecting upon two things: 1) the value of the “container", and 2) the value of the reboot when the container is not tight. Because both things are necessary, and containers fall apart all the time; we’re human, we’re leading — it happens.
Our awareness and ability to reboot as needed is where the magic lies.
What is the container you create, and hold, for your people? And how do you clean it up when it falls apart?
The container is what I think of as the space that is created, pro-actively, to set someone up for their best performance, their best thinking, their best. Period. The container helps us show up well.
Whether you are leading, speaking, working with your team or clients, hanging out with your family, writing an article, being interviewed, having a feedback conversation, planning your 2016 with your board, or whatever… You’re going to want to give the container some intention — before, during, and after…
I have an entire section on this in my book “Contagious Culture” — and here are 3 quick ways to create a solid and sacred container for yourself and those you lead.
- Way before the meeting even starts: Make sure you have the logistical information right, that you ask people to show up early, and that intentions are clear about what the meeting is about, why, and what you’ll be discussing. Set your people up well here.
- At the beginning of the meeting: Be on time and make sure the environment is set right. Make introductions as needed. Make sure everyone is present right now to who’s here, what you’re doing, and why.
- During the meeting: Hold presence, be fully with your person (or your group) right now. There is nothing else in the world that needs your attention. This is the most important thing you have to do right now. If you have concerns — name them in present time, and be aware of, and responsible for, your impact. Hold these people as magnificent. Intend for them to shine. And they will step into that. They will feel your presence, your regard for them, and your intent. And if there are concerns, you will navigate together.
And when the container falls apart — because it will — reboot. That is all.
Be intentional, check your energy, and stay present. Go get’em.
For more on reboots, containers, and leadership optimizers check out the book, download tools from my site, and have a phenomenal day.
This post originally appeared on Inc.com on November 18, 2015
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