I’m hell-bent on simplifying my life (except that I’ve been trotting around the world with two computers…is that a contradiction?) and took a step recently by clearing out gobs of formerly-precious stuff from our garage. In a tiny pile of photos I found several that brought smiles to my fuzzy face. One in particular was a “girl with car” picture of my eldest daughter with her dream car, a ’61 Mercury Comet. She lounges in pedal pushers and dark glasses against the hood like an auburn escapee from Pulp Fiction.

I think this memory captures quite nicely a coaching dilemma: how can the coach suggest that the fondest wish of the person being coached seems crazy on the face of it, without imposing one’s own values? I helped her buy this car, but something in me wanted to say, “How crazy do you want to be?” Although a lovely car (beauty in the eye of the beholder) this particular auto was also a rolling disaster, not even counting the engine fire it had once experienced.

It is easy to become attached to a viewpoint, a goal, a way of doing things, or a cause and want to hold it fast whether it serves us well or not. Mia finally gave up the Comet. Californians are having to give up the confidence that houses are always a good investment. Hyper-organized managers may have to give up thinking more organization is the solution to everything.

One of the things I like about working for CCL is that we let our commitment to research smack us around a little. It’s hard on those of us who are full of prejudices and opinions because the science often forces me to give up my cherished slogans and over-simplifications. It makes it hard to repeat the hoary bits of wisdom passed down from speaker to speaker (like the story of “the destroyer and the lighthouse” bent to make any point I want, for example). But it does prepare us for the rough and tumble of real-world leadership.

Not sure what I’m going to have to yield today, but there will be something. Hope I can hold fast to the right things and let go of the rest.

Your fellow sojourner,

Doug

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