Too tired to have an opinion, too tired to care

”and so he will probably be too tired to vote.

Coaching Session

We were able to meet in person for his weekly coaching call, and chose the end of the day since a Friday afternoon worked best for us both this past week. Over the phone he had said, “You’ll give me a great excuse to get away and stay away, at least until the next morning.”

His coaching program with me is once every two weeks. One part MWA value-alignment workshop (designed for his team’s values), one part responsiveness coaching (RC) with whatever he feels he needs to work on (we use these 9 areas as his categories) alternating between the two each time we have a session. He writes the agenda for the RC session, and that’s what we were meeting for this time.

His list was short and we made quick work of it, ending with his action plan for the two weeks to come, and I said to him, “You have something else on your mind, don’t you.”

He looked at me like a kid just caught napping at his desk at school, and sheepishly said, “You know how it is right now Rosa, same old thing.”

I let that pass and chose to change the subject briefly, knowing that he would volunteer what was still bugging him when he felt ready. I asked, “Were you able to catch any of this week’s coverage of the Democratic National Convention? As someone who presents so often, it was like getting free sessions in a Speaking Mastery Class, delivered direct to my living room.”

His response was, “No, I missed it all. Honestly Rosa, I am too tired to work on having an informed opinion about it, and I’m just too tired to care. Not sure I’ll even bother voting come November.”

My heart sank, but I bit my tongue and let the quiet sit between us for a moment, and sure enough, he launched into what had really been on his mind. I’ll call him Ace as I explain.

An Ace in Hand

Ace is one of those who are the ‘fortunate’ to still have their jobs.

Since this past April, shortly after the news that Aloha Airlines was calling it quits, Ace has said goodbye to almost a fourth of his peers, managers and staff alike, as his company’s business plan was reengineered into survival mode and labor was trimmed. The ensuing months have not brought them improvements, just an ever-shrinking cash flow to make more adjustments for. [Victims of the Hawai‘i Downturn.]

Hawaii Lay Offs 2008 todate
Click here for larger image and commentary.

They were already running a tight ship, and so Ace went from playing a strategic hand of poker to thumbing through more than twice as many cards in what seems to be an endless game of war.

Ace’s hours have increased dramatically, and most of our coaching sessions in previous months to improve his productivity now seem like they never happened; he is bringing work home again. Essentially, Ace has gone from handling a manager’s job to filling in for the staff he lost, and doing any “management stuff” on his own time. There have been some allowances and shifts made in his company’s business plan, but they still fall far short of what is humanly reasonable on the labor front.

So Ace and I sat for another hour, throwing out that action plan we’d initially done and collaborating on a new one that would be more realistic for him.

Accepting apathy is NEVER a good solution

As far as I’m concerned, no one should be too tired to have an opinion, and too tired to care. Life is just too short for complacency or apathy and feelings of helplessness.

If you are in a situation like Ace, do NOT accept it. If you have to work extra hard anyway, work to change it.

I know it is more easily said than done, but damn it, you have to create your own destiny.

In this case ~ ~ ~

What Ace and I did was explore the depth of his circle of influence with the company business plan. As a manager, Ace needs to get back to playing offense, not defense, and get control of his hand back from the dealer.

If you have to think ‘bigger than the job’ or ‘outside the box as one of the remaining ‘fortunate few,’ push the edges of that box upwards too, not just down.

Voice your insider’s viewpoint. Work ON your company and not just trapped withIN it.

Flickr image: Aces by Auntie P.

On voting: Enjoyed reading this on CK’s Blog today:
Left, right or center: Can we all agree how REMARKABLE this election truly is?


  1. says

    I liked to read this post. “Work ON your company and not just trapped withIN it.” I fully support that, but sometimes you need someone to help you to set it into practice – just like you did with Ace. To ask the necessary questions, to help someone to find the right answers. That’s what coaching is for, isn’t it? (sorry for the simplifying question, but I am no expert) Just read an article in the German weekly newspaper “Die Zeit” about coaching, and what it does. I think, coaching should not only be for managers, but for “normal” staff, too.
    Just my 2 cents,

  2. says

    You’re spot on Ulla; coaching is about giving people help with finding answers, and in fact, if you give them an answer you are likely doing them a disservice, for the coach’s answer may not suit the situation they are in. Arriving at an answer – good or bad – will stop the conversation, stop the collaboration, and so the coaching process is also very much one of knowing when to keep looking, and when to start taking action. Then coaching becomes about holding people accountable for those actions they planned to take, and helping them be thoughtful about the results.
    In total coaching is a thinking well/doing well balancing act, and that is a process everyone needs. As for “normal staff” that is what (in my own coaching model) we get the managers to then do: They need to be the coaches for their staff. So when with me they are also learning the coaching process itself, so they may then work in a similar way with their staff, peers, bosses, and partnerships. Then too, they retain more of what they have learned when they re-teach it.
    In the infancy of the coaching profession there was this stigma that coaching was only for “problem children,” and that isn’t true at all; we all need help at times – I have someone who coaches me too!