Thursday, November 28, 2013

On the art of redirection

Yesterday at work I ran a 2-hour internal workshop training session on a topic where I have the core subject matter expertise but need other people in the organisation to have capacity to deliver their parts. I designed the workshop, arranged QA on the content from a colleague, wrote the notes, developed the presentation, created the activities, booked the room, sent the invitations, managed the logistics and did the photocopying - it was my baby from start to finish.

This is the second time I've delivered this workshop. The first time, back in October, it went well, but yesterday went, if anything, even better. The group was engaged, enthusiastic and seemed very happy at the end of the session. (Their feedback forms certainly supported this good vibe!) I was on game - I spoke well, I was able to pick up on the interests of the group and shape the training on the fly to suit them, and as a result of doing the training, I have established connections into areas of my organisation that I have hereforeto not been able to get access to.

I went to the workshop not in the best mood. There were Reasons for this, but I literally pulled myself up and said "You have to put all that away now" in the lift as I was riding to the relevant floor of the building. The amazing thing is that it worked - in fact, it did more. Not only was I able to focus on my trainees and deliver them a useful session, but the very act of willing myself into doing it actually lightened my overall demeanour and helped me gain some better perspective on other things.

It's partly that I really do enjoy training, if I'm well prepared - I think I'm pretty good at it, and I find it very satisfying. (So much so that I have not infrequently wondered if a future career turn might not land me in a training role of some kind).

It's more than that, though. It's the thing that we all talk about with kids, especially toddlers, but seem to forget applies just as much to ourselves as adults, and it's this - redirection is a powerful tool for breaking negative loops, be they behavioural or psychological. An early and much-respected manager of mine once told me that when you are feeling angry, frustrated or overwhelmed at work, the best strategy is: Stop. Breathe. DO SOMETHING ELSE. Nothing productive comes of activity fuelled by those negative mental states, and much can be gained by turning your mind elsewhere and focusing on something about which you can be positive.

Of course, when I returned in the afternoon to the Reasons, they were still there and they were still real, but they did seem more manageable and I was able to address them more effectively. All thanks to being forced by circumstance to redirect my own attention :-)

This is post 28 in NaBloPoMo. 28 down, 2 to go!

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