Photo by Juskteez Vu
If you haven’t already seen the movie “Arrival,” with Amy Adams, go see it. It’s a fantastic and wonderful adventure story. And a gorgeous metaphor for what emerging leaders and other challenged professionals go through all the time.
The Amy Adams character, a top-notch linguist, is tapped for a huge, mind-boggling job that catapults her into a realm of personal growth and challenge like no other. In short, aliens have arrived on earth from outer space, and she is heading up the team to figure out how to communicate with them. Though we know she is the best person for the job, we see the immense personal challenge of it. She experiences profound fear. There is opposition to her approach that she has to push back against. She has self doubt. She is isolated. She has experiences unlike anything she’s ever known, and she struggles to understand them. The work requires her to expand and grow intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, in a way that . . . as the audience struggles to keep up, we understand . . . challenges her capacity: can I wrap my mind around this? Can I stretch my mental abilities to grasp what’s going on here? Am I reading this right?
Even as other key characters read the situation differently and threaten to violently shut down her work, she has to muster the strength, courage, and confidence to persevere, hold her own, and stay focused on the work.
This is a brilliant and highly entertaining dramatization of what my clients often experience. My clients are highly capable women and men whose jobs consistently require that they stretch out of their comfort zones, learn new skills, navigate something utterly new to them, while dealing with all manner of feedback, opposition, and setbacks. In a way, this is just how work IS for many people. In “Arrival,” it the project was a time-limited. In real life, it’s ongoing, and therefore very challenging to sustain.
Does this kind of job sound familiar to you? Could you use some support in finding ways to make things more sustainable for you? Here are a few strategies that can make a difference:
- Acknowledge and appreciate yourself for your heroism in doing this work. I don’t care if you’re designing shoes or eradicating TB, if your work fits the description above, it’s crucial that you appreciate the heroic effort you are putting in.
- Make sure you take really really good care of yourself, whatever that means to you, whatever you can mange.
- Make sure you’re working as efficiently as possible. If you’re squandering hours every week due to your own inefficiency, own it and eliminate those leaks of your time, focus, and energy. Optimize how you work so you can leave work behind sometimes and replenish yourself.
- Get more help. Delegate more effectively at work. Get more help outside of work. Have no idea how/where to get help? Do a single coaching session with me about this! There are always ways to get help somewhere in your life
This is not an exhaustive list. It’s a scatter of ideas. If you want to do some serious, focused work on how these issues play out in your work, contact me for an initial consult at no charge. Over the course of 3 or 6 months, you can learn how to manage your work in a way that’s more sustainable for you. You don’t want to burn out.