Guest post by leadership coach and author, Dr. Stephen Payne.
Charlie comes walking towards me waving the Business Section of the New York Times. “Our bank is going bust,” he says. “We’re being taken over by the government bail out. The people from Treasury are in our head office already. That’s it; we’re done for.” “How can they decide so fast?” I say, a bit surprised to hear of a Government department moving quickly. Charlie shakes his head slowly, “It always happens that way.” Long pause… “I heard we will all lose our jobs when they split us up and sell the bits to competitors. Overnight we have become someone else’s ugly step-child.”
“How awful, Charlie,” I say, trying to sound sympathetic…but my mind is a bit suspicious. There’s a phrase turning over in my mind:
When the blind lead the blind…
I recall that something happens when the blind lead the blind and that it’s not too pleasant, but that’s all I remember. I decide it’s enough to go on, so I ask, “Who did you hear all this from Charlie?”
Sigh…”Some of the guys in Finance were talking about it,” says Charlie, “plus my boss says he’s scared for his job.”
Perhaps you relate to Charlie. He believes that what other people say about a situation is true for him. When something major happens, and the dial on the rumor machine gets cranked up to Full Blast, Charlie becomes extremely anxious.
Do you bump into people at work who want to share the bad news with you — in their own special way? Quite often they simply want to suck you into the vortex of their own misery. They’re looking to get a little relief by watching you feel as bad as they do. The outcome is predictable — abject misery, fear mongering, people leaving, anger, resentment. Is that where the blind lead the blind?
This is all too common in these days of recession. People who put their entire faith and hope into work achievements end up feeling empty. With nowhere to turn, feeling supported rapidly turns to feeling deserted. May I ask where you are on the supported-deserted continuum today?
supported by colleagues ___________________ deserted by events
“Sounds a little early to declare defeat Charlie,” I say. “Why put your faith in what other people tell you. Could it be that the people you’re relying on don’t actually have all the facts yet and you’re jumping to conclusions?”
Deep sigh… “I’m not so sure; my boss said it happened to him in his last job.”
I’m thinking wherever the blind lead the blind they apparently enjoy staying there. I try a different tack. “You know Charlie, if you’re going to jump to conclusions from what people say, you could try concluding something good.”
“So how do you do that, coach?” he says with a touch of sarcasm.
I like that touch of sarcasm. It’s like a crack in the door. His mind is creaking open to another viewpoint. My mission is to get the door all the way open so he can focus on the creator of greater possibilities, not on all the problems. I’ll never do that if I join the people who want to bring him down.
One of my spiritual self-calibration cards is just for this purpose. I pass the card to Charlie. “Relax for a minute and read the statements on this card Charlie,” I say. “Then tell me who you should be talking with.” [You can do this exercise yourself; I encourage you to read all six statements before deciding for yourself where you stand today.]
Wounded: This place is basically bad for me, many of us are scared.
Unaware: I survive here solely based on my own hard-earned talent.
Learning: Under pressure I try to get help, otherwise things get too crazy.
Exhibiting: I keep a network of good people I trust to help me out in tough situations.
Leading: I’m always tapping in to valuable people to solve problems.
Mastering: I know the help I need will be right there when I need it.
“I’m certainly not at Exhibiting,” says Charlie. “I’m not tapping into the views of people I can trust…and…err…OK, good point…that could include my boss. I need to find people who can help me see the new possibilities from this situation.”
May I ask you which people you are paying heed to today? I believe that every moment of your workday is an opportunity to draw closer to God, and one of the ways God helps us is through the words of those we trust. It’s easy to fall into the trap of respecting the words of the naysayer and gossipmonger. Ask yourself: “Am I seeing the possibilities by aligning with those who know the truth, even when the truth may be that I may just have to have faith?”
“I’m here to help you Charlie,” I say. “Let’s prepare a list of all the people whose opinion you trust and let’s have you start calling them to get their perspective…”
So where do the blind who lead the blind end up? Back in my car I check it out. It’s in Luke 6:39 and Matthew 15:14,
Let them alone: they are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.
I’m glad I didn’t speak to Charlie’s boss today. I don’t fancy that pit thing.
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