I read the other day – and if I could remember who penned it, I’d give him/her credit… apologies upfront – that the concept of writer’s block is a myth. After all, the author questioned, “Is there such a thing as plumber’s block?” Seems like a logical point. Other professionals get up every morning, go to work and have to deliver results. What makes writers so special?
However, I can personally attest that there are days – despite intense efforts – words just don’t flow from my mind onto the monitor. That’s probably why I wouldn’t have been a good newspaper columnist, and likely the reason these blog entries only come occasionally. If I had to endure the pressure of writing something intelligent and inspiring every morning (or twice daily, if you’re Seth Godin), I’d be in big trouble.
Of course, I know the reason my ideas don’t flow smoothly like water, and instead drip slowly like syrup. It happens whenever there is something blocking the energy from making it’s way to my fingertips. Usually the inspiration well dries up because of another priority, a distraction or being unclear about the point I intend to make. When that happens it’s important for me to get those roadblocks completely taken care of; that’s the only way to clear the path for creating the next posting or e-newsletter.
So whenever you’re stuck, pause and think about the big humps preventing you from completing what you’re trying to accomplish. Push those out of the way and you’ll unleash the clarity you need to move forward.
Part of my coaching work with executives consists of conducting feedback interviews with 10-12 of their supervisors, peers and direct reports. This provides insight into the perceptions of those who know the person being coached in a working relationship. Typically, three or four underlying behaviors arise that clients seek to improve during our coaching sessions.
While it’s better to have a detached third-person – like a coach – explore areas around what are Susie’s biggest strengths, where are ways Billy can be more successful and describe John’s communication style, you can do this on your own.
Choose a few folks who you interact with on a regular basis and ask them to sit down and share how they see you… giving them permission upfront to be candid. Listen closely to what they’re saying, taking a few ‘headline’ notes without being absorbed in capturing every word. Be sure not to react to anything you hear. This isn’t an exercise in right or wrong, good or bad; it’s exploratory research and a chance to learn.
These conversations should last less than 15 minutes. End each one by asking is there anything else I should know that would help me be a better leader? Then simply say thank you. There’s no need to accept, reject or negotiate any of their viewpoints. After you talk to everyone review your notes and look for patterns where you could do better. Chances are if there’s something you need to change more than one person mentioned it. Choose two or three that are important to you, and put together a self-improvement plan.
Circle back to tell each person how much you appreciate his or her helping you, and share the first things you’re going to address. This lets them know it wasn’t just a conversation that ended without action. Finally, select one person to serve as your accountability partner to ensure you stay focused on achieving change, and schedule brief ‘check in’ updates every few weeks for several months. Soon you’ll start seeing a better you.