The BIG to do list

We have a lot going on, as humans, right now. Climate change, social divides, increasing wealth gap… We do have a fairly large team to work on this though, 7+ billion people and counting…

So, what to do and where to start?

The SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) are a good place to start. This has been called “the world’s to do list” and that’s what it is. The big key issues.

Have a look:

The Sustainable Development Goals

Some of these might resonate more with you than others. Some of these might be areas you are already active in. That’s great. Start with that. You don’t have to cover all of them, and not all by yourself. Pick a topic and make a start. Make this part of your work, or find other ways to support this.

++++++++

If you are looking for help to align your life better with your values, check out my book “Values-based – career and life changes that make sense” or ping me for a chat.

Being a helpful friend in times of crisis

A lot of people had and are having a very difficult time right now. Often, only few folks know what’s really going on. It’s difficult to open up and seek help when there is already so much mess. Good support makes a world of difference and can really lighten the load for someone. Experiencing care keeps us within the fold of the human family, and that is particularly helpful when things have gone wrong.

Sometimes, though, the opposite of “good” are “good intentions”. Your approach to help can have unintended consequences that make the situation more difficult for a person who is already struggling. That is likely not what you have in mind as you are trying to help, so here are a few pointers, in no particular order.

When in doubt, ask what would be helpful first, and listen to what they say.

  1. This isn’t about you. This should be about what is genuinely helping the other person with their situation. Otherwise, they might have to manage your efforts on top of an already crushing situation.
  2. Don’t make your awkwardness their problem. The stiff upper lip is all too real, and the situation is often more awkward for them than for you. Use your bigger holding capacity to hold what’s yours.
  3. Doing vs. Being. We often think of help as “doing something”. Often there isn’t actually anything you are able to do. Being with the person can also help, that might be what they crave the most.
  4. Emergencies can require interventions. Like helping an addict friend to targeted support, or encouraging someone to leave a horrible living situation, or calling an ambulance for someone who initially refuses. Some of this can get messy and you might get yelled at and called things.
  5. You might never get thanked. Lots of rough emotions around. Try not to add yours. Doing the right thing has its own reward.
  6. Keep your relative privilege in check. Massive rifts might mean that your friend who might have been similar might no longer be in the same “lifestyle bracket” (and might never come back). Your ideas of help will now likely be vastly different from theirs.
  7. Plan WITH that person, not FOR that person. Whatever your idea, make sure this will actually improve their situation and not just add another project on top. Don’t insist if your idea doesn’t land.  
  8. Money stuff might change the dynamics of the friendship. Be clear what you are expecting if you help with money, particularly if this is meant as a gift, or a loan, and what the terms and conditions are. Also, your own self-care still applies.
  9. Show them they are still a part of the human family. They are still the same awesome human, the same accomplished professional even though their outside circumstances might be vastly different now. Participation will matter more than ever. Maybe they just want to talk about football or the neighbor’s cat rather than their current situation. Let them.
  10.  Ask before jumping in to problem-solve or to give advice. Jumping into advice mode is a lot of people’s default setting, and you probably have good intentions. Your friend might have already consulted lawyers or citizen’s advice or other experts for their mess, and that might be better suited than your neighbourhood whatsapp group or the hot take you just read somewhere on the internet.   
  11.  Resist the urge of bombarding them with this long tickbox list of questions “have you…”, “oh but surely…”, “but what about…”. These are about your own need for information and clarity, and this is unlikely to help your friend (unless they asked for thought partnering).  
  12.  No sales (unless they specifically ask). Social media can be a horribly ambiguous place. This is not the time to highlight the fact that your best friend runs this amazing program on “money consciousness” if you are indeed a friend.
  13.  No platitudes. Instagram pseudo-psychology stuff like “every cloud has a silver lining”, “love the life you have”. This signals something like “I am just going to ignore all the difficult things you just told me, I’ll just say something nice-sounding so I feel better”. An “oh shit mate how awful I don’t even know what to say” is better than a platitude.
  14.  Be prepared for the long-haul. Your friend might have experienced something that drastically altered the course of their lives. This might take years to mend. They will need all the strength they can muster as they sustain themselves for the long-haul. All support must help with that.  
  15.  No diagnosing. People who get to diagnose other people get a lot of training to do this, and often have to pass state health-board examinations or similar. Unless you did that and are qualified and use proper process, stay clear of labels. Don’t use labels with third parties. You might make their situation worse by spreading rumours. If you are worried of course do bring up the concern to get professional help and let them do the diagnosing.
  16.  Keep things confidential you hear. Particularly when your friend asks you to. Be mindful on social media and what you might inadvertently disclose about their whereabouts or circumstances. Your friend’s safety is more important than your feed.
  17. This is not your story. Big rifts have these epic, cinematic qualities, and some details are freakishly gruesome. Some of this might, indeed, make a great story later. This is, however, not your story, and likely isn’t yours to tell. If you need entertainment, read a book or watch a film and live a life rich enough so you will have your own conversation points.  
  18.  Respect boundaries: Theirs. This is particularly key when you work in a people profession and have some training that might or might not be useful. Helping professions, charities and similar organizations normally have rules of engagement. Coaching and other interventions need contracting. Don’t casually drag people into stuff. Respect your tools and use them responsibly. 
  19.  Respect boundaries: Yours. As a friend, your help might only go so far. It might not be able to fix everything. You might not be trained to do this, or it might be too much for you to hold on top of what is happening in your life. The long haul might be longer than you are willing or able to see through. You drowning alongside them won’t help the other person either. Be clear about what you are or are not able to do so you know what you are committing to. Help can come in different sizes. Thank you for yours.  

A longer version of this is a bonus chapter in my upcoming book “The DIY Phoenix – How to drag yourself out of the ashes, mend your wings and start flying again“.

Things where coaching may help (recent examples)

You might be wondering what sorts of topics show up in a coaching setting, what to bring, what to work on. And if coaching is the right thing. Here are some of the things that have recently come up (in specific sessions, or over a longer process):

  • What do I want to do as a next step (post-corporate career), starting to “scan” for other things
  • How to make a dream a next step
  • Preparing for a redundancy conversation (from a coaching side, I do not give legal advice)
  • Being more visible for senior leaders (and with things that make sense for the future)
  • Channeling frustration into something more constructive
  • Appreciating yourself more and celebrate milestones
  • Showing up as more helpful during times of crisis
  • Being more patient and caring with a new team
  • Work out some base-case scenarios for an anticipated change in role, finances etc
  • Managing stress reactions (e.g. doing everything yourself in times of crisis rather than involving the team)
  • Authentic showing up in times of difficulties

Just some examples. You see these are a mix of very much of-the-current-situation as well as looking into some of the bigger questions that start arising.

Ping me to have a chat if you’re currently mulling over something and would like to get some support, or if you want to schedule a free decision clinic. Also, check out my books to get started.

And if you would like to read more, check these out: 

More questions than answers (that’s the work)

Your look, full of expectations, seeking help, wanting an answer. Your big upcoming decision, the pressure from a deadline or a contract running out. That pain or discomfort seeking release in a better future. So, you say, what should I do? As a coach, that is not the role. Some of the questions might resonate with me as a person, and with my own journey. Some are different. This isn’t the point, this journey is yours, and that is what we focus on. We are not two old friends shooting the breeze in a pub.

So many questions. A lot of them quite universal, along common themes. Staying or leaving? Take the plunge and start that business? How will I find it if I lose my former status (whatever that means)? Should I go back to Uni? How deep will this cut be, are we talking surface-level fixer-upper or big structural engineering work? But I’ve never done that before, what if I fail? How do I deal with the guilt I’m feeling about the change I really want to make? What about the money? What will they think? How do I know…? What if? What if? What if?

The answers are different for everyone, and are likely going to shift over time for you as you start feeling your way into the change, into the new things emerging, into new sides of you that you are starting to live out loud. The German poet Rainer Maria Rilke famously wrote to a young aspiring writer:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Outside of quick, focused crisis intervention that might call for a different approach, a lot of the coaching work is indeed holding the questions and digging deep, finding universal principles (like values), seeing what already works that might be useful, starting to make changes and see how they land. This doesn’t mean long and tedious, this is NOT a long-term subscription. This can come in multiple bursts along a change journey or in all sorts of other ways, alone or in a group. And you won’t be the first on this journey (Rilke wrote the above almost 100 years ago), there are common themes and patterns so you won’t have to reinvent everything from scratch. You won’t be alone on this journey. Take comfort in that. You are doing the work, and the work is doable.

In today’s VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) environment, the work is indeed a lot less about that specific answer that is going to fix that one thing right now. It is a lot more about jointly developing a practice that works for you what to do with all the questions, and how you want to go about doing that based on what you deeply care about. This is part of the work. This is the work. This will then also start helping with that question. And the one thereafter. And the one after that.


And yes, there are books for that 😉
Values-based: Career and Life Decisions that Make Sense.
The DIY Phoenix: How to drag yourself out of the ashes, mend your wings and start flying again. 
Or just ping me for coaching