Sitting in a recent management meeting, listening to the workload and time challenges that are a fact of life in today’s fast-paced business world, I was struck by the fact that it appeared that each manager felt the weight of their departmental vertical fell squarely on their shoulders alone. It seemed odd to me that within a group of well-integrated leaders, who share a special camaraderie, such a pervasive feeling of aloneness existed.
Since isolation can lead to demoralization, depression, anxiety and deteriorates quality of life over time, I wondered how such an intelligent group of high-achievers weren’t picking up on the signals they were giving each other across the board with comments like, “ I know our late delivery has an impact, and I will be happy to do whatever I can to support your team,” while they were sharing their individual struggles. Thinking back to times I felt overwhelmed, it was clear that when we are in that spot, we are focused on our personal circumstances and not actively listening.
Maybe it was because I was on the path to retirement (where a lot of self-examination occurs!) and certainly less overwhelmed, but a visual that I had seen that morning popped into my head. Last in the round-table order, I said, “You all need to be more like a sunflower.” Now, I’m used to being looked at like I have multiple heads–because I seem to look at life a bit differently than most–but the “what” looks I got surprised even me. I explained:
“Sunflowers follow the sun…but when it is cloudy and gray, they face each other and share their energy? Imagine if you all did that too!