The Story of Chris

… or

how fridges help to become leaders…

(a TrustTemenos Leadership Academy Story.)

“Aaarrh, another jar I have to throw away. Never seen this before.” I feel irritated. “Beetroot chutney – what is this for? Never seen this jar before!” A pity. I don’t like waste anyway, yet before even noticing this glass… I am not even able to manage my fridge. No wonder, that I don’t succeed in being able to manage my life. My work life as is so overloaded: why can’t my life at home be simple and easy?

My name is Chris. I’m the head of two departments in my company and have every option to get promoted by my boss. This year markets are difficult and I have all my hands full of work to keep my people going. How to organize myself is my most urgent problem. I have put up a board in my office to get an overview of all things which I have to take care of. Often I feel alone with the weight of all my responsibilites. I don’t like working long hours, but often I do. I dream of offering my teams the best surroundings they need to gain extraordinary results. I know very clearly what I want — making it a reality is where I fail.

Clarity
Clarity – Reality, Intent, Choice

Sylvia, a friend has sent me an email. She is into organisational development. She attracts interesting ideas. Occasionally she sends me this stuff… A video about a fridge – what strange metaphors this Changemakers use, but interesting as I thought about it! It opens this parallel universe of the fridge and the leadership qualities. Interesting thought! If I would have noticed the beetroot chutney earlier in my life, I would have asked my wife to cook together a nice dinner with it. We would have had fun, laughter and intimacy. What a loss! This makes me sigh.

The next day Mary comes into my office. She seems apprehensive, which is not her style… “Hey. What’s up?” “Well… You know that my mum usually takes care of the twins when I’m at work, right?” “Sure. Your mum is a treasure. Everybody should have a mum like yours.” “Well, she’s off for the rest of the week. Met an interesting guy online and says she wants to take care of herself, for a while.” “Ouch! What will you do with the twins?”

Hell, yeah. What’s she going to do with the twins? She actually asked if she could bring them to work! Wow. How is that supposed to work? What if everyone… What if people stop working? What if… wait. Let’s use my new “fridge thinking”! There is a chance in this situation and I won’t stuff it away in the fridge without acting and let it pass away. This time I take action and maybe something new emerges, more fun, laughter… Let them come Mary!

I feel good. In a weird way. My wife asks over dinner why I’m smiling. I realise I am smiling, and try to stop. Can’t. Embarrassing! Then… I share my story. And wonder why smiling at home, having dinner with my wife, could ever be embarrassing. She loves it. She looks at me in this special way she has, where I feel seen in a way I don’t usually feel seen. I remember what these guys in the video said about inner qualities… Maybe, if I feel this sense of gratitude, of feeling seen, I can create that quality in my departments as well?

Later in bed, I reflect a little more. Mary looked at me in a very unusual way when I allowed her to bring in the twins. She never looked at me like that before… As if she saw me in a different way. Looking back, I notice it was quite similar to the way my wife looked at me. I didn’t pay enough attention. Wow. This feels interesting.

A week later

Who made this “fridge video”? Since I saw it, I never had another innocent look into my fridge. Nervously, I search my crowded mail box. Where have I stored it! Damn! Can’t find it. Why can’t I better manage my mail box as well? Ahh, another “fridge” problem.

Found it! Here it is. Mmh, this is what I remembered. They do an Academy in October about being the Leader I intend to be. Oh, that feels right! I have so many wishes to have more impact on my own life and the life of others and the gap feels really uncomfortable. It is not a lack of knowledge! Really, I have been on a lot of trainings. But I didn’t find enough time to make it my own, to focus and let my impact grow. There is so much resistance within me and outside of me. I don’t bring my ideas into the world with full power, because I have too many things I am acting on, feel responsible for others, try to do things others might find important. I don’t act fully on my agenda. Sometimes I even forget my own agenda and just react.

Suddenly Bronnie Ware comes into my mind and the five regrets of dying people. The top regret was  “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” That’s it. I want to get out of that and I neither want to be in category 2 “I wish I didn’t work too hard”. Yeah, but I don’t dare to work less! I thought about my fridge and having the right things at the right time in there and not obviously something that I bought without thinking about if it would be good for me or suitable for my nutrition.

Ok, wow, it is a 10- month program. I don’t know if I can fit that in. I have so many commitments and here is one more! Mmmh, but isn’t this a commitment which will help me manage all my other things? Get rid of unnecessary work and transform my way of doing things? I also like to make a real change and enjoy life more, but not work harder for that. Instead working less and more of the things I really like! Here it comes, I really like cottage cheese! Why don’t I buy one for taking into the office tomorrow? A big grin on my face, yeah, fridge thinking! There it comes!

Don’t know if I can make it for all four onsite workshops, but will definitely try to arrange it and I really look forward to these webinars. Will need some time to get a routine to save time for that, but I know, that I have to let go things and this will be a good reason for that.

 

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