i'm a mess
In the last couple of weeks, we’ve had a number of brilliant leaders start our meetings by saying some version of “I’m a mess!” They then go on to describe a range of experiences—both professional and personal—that they can’t resolve easily.

They recount a range of pain points from long-held challenges in a family business, to a change in direction from the Board of Directors, to a shift in the market, to a diagnosis of a frightening illness, to the death of a friend, a pet, or a colleague. “I’m a mess!”

We all have those days, weeks, and even months when we find ourselves saying to ourselves, I’m a mess.

So, when your back is to the wall, you feel you’ve done everything you can do to resolve a situation, you’re tired and depleted, and you don’t know what to do… what do you do?

Here are some of the things we suggest when we’re sitting with someone who feels there is nothing they can do to make a difference in their world:

  1. Talk with someone you deeply trust who has your best interest at heart and doesn’t have their own agenda in this situation.

    • That may be a friend, mentor, or colleague.
      But if you find that they are still too close to the situation or care so much about you that they can not help you see a way forward, it’s time to look for an executive or business coach or a therapist.
    • A good coach or therapist can listen deeply as you describe what’s going on—helping you hear yourself in new ways.
      They can provide a different perspective on looking at the situation and considering ways to resolve it. They can provide you a place to feel… the stress, the sadness, the grief, the anger… without you bringing it to the situation in a way that won’t move you forward on your goals.

      They can help you create a plan for how to move forward effectively until a solution emerges or the pain begins to resolve.

  2. Keep a journal that includes what you’re grateful for in the situation, what you’re stressed by, and what you’re starting to consider doing.
    • These categories are important. If you simply start to write and rant, you can convince yourself that everything is going to hell and you may get even more distressed.

      As a leader in your life, it’s important to look at the possibility inherent in the obstacles and challenges, and that’s not always easy when you’ve hit “mess”.

  3. Do things daily that help you get a different perspective.
    • People get perspective in a variety of ways but the commonality is often doing something outside of the norm.
    • These are some actual activities people have described as being game-changers when they felt a mess:
      • Take a walk.
      • Lay down on the floor and look up at the world.
      • Listen to music or meditation.
      • Write a letter to someone you’ve looked up to describing the situation, where the pain points are, what the opportunities might be inherent in those pain points. See what you write!
      • Watch a show that makes you laugh really hard.
      • Tell a 5-year-old what is going on and ask for advice

It can feel awful when you find yourself saying to yourself “I’m a mess!” and we want you to know that you’re not alone. 

In our twenty-two years in business, coaching and consulting with powerful executives and teaching people the skills to lead in new and challenging environments, we’ve seen that everyone has those days, weeks, and months. But they can move through them and develop resilience to deal with future challenges more successfully.  

We’ve seen people have incredible success with these responses and we’d love to learn what works for you. 

Be gentle with yourself while committing to taking action in a way that gets you the support and new perspective you need.

We're with you!

Your Coaches and Allies,
Carpenter Smith Consulting

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