Lessons from Life’s Last Dance from my coach, Robert H. Seals
It’s no secret that most of the coaching I have ever found to be beneficial for my sustenance as a clinical leader has been outside the world of therapy. I have had my mother who spent year’s as a Chicago Public School teacher, I grew up in a church with parents who led various areas and such, and I had my father. This up close 24 hour learning in communication, politics, navigating across various worlds of corporate-community was most of what I needed to navigate my career, business, conferences and professional slights and successes in Applied Behavior Analysis and Speech-Language Pathology.
On April 8th of this year, my father passed away. It’s an interesting time to lose someone. Without complaint, we moved with what could happen because no ceremony could take the place of the tremendous loss my family felt.
When circumstances happen to people in leadership, you hope that on your team exists people who understand that they still have a job to do and allow you time and space to simply Be. That there are people who will silently step in and fill the gap. I am thankful that I have this within my team.
It’s a space of time you need as a leader, but the cultivation of your team in seeing you as human has to happen before that moment. Simply, if you have been super human in leadership and super supportive to many people…hiding your faults-failures-laughter…your team is less likely to see you as human-as a person. Burnout happens when we hide our humanness… I am fortunate that in seeing leadership in my parents and in mentors, they were authentic people. So good-bad-and indifferent, I am always Landria (The daughter of Bob).
In speaking to member’s of my father’s team at the time of his passing, I could tell and see that his team was devasted. Why? He was human with a family. He was a person that motivated; he smiled; he articulated his feelings; and was a lover of life. His team missed him….certainly his skill as a network security engineer was important (and he loved it)…but the essence of himself was key.
Throughout my life, my father taught my sister and I many lessons. From his hospital bed and in conversation, he restated many lessons. I am going to share a few with you…
Lesson 1: Take Care of Yourself
Filling your tank should not be an afterthought, it is a must. When I coach people, and they begin talking about staff incentives (and those are important and have a place), I frequently inquire have they given to themselves first. Getting in the practice and feeling of treating yourself well for 30 days consistently without doing for another person on your team is a challenge for most…but a good practice to build habit. Here you begin learning what drives-motivates you; and developing the ultimate skill of moving to intrinsic motivation for the work begins with the leader. It is something that we need to develop “inside-out work”. If we don’t do this well…we will be stuck at the tangible reinforcer level and so will our staff. Emitting and learning that the ‘good take care’ is seen in boundary development, emotional regulation, healthy living, guilt free time away and off, the dual complexity of servant leadership (serving -giving- tending to yourself), time with people know and love are the true areas of better self-care.
Lesson Two: Enjoy Life
Many people don’t. My last family vacation (Janet Jackson concert in Vegas)…yes at 40plus years old… my parents still held family vacations that they would invite my sister and I to join them on. My father was an advocate of Enjoying Life. And recently in November as I contemplated a gift for me…he said. No one has seen your late nights, your sacrifice, or even your tears as you support your business in ways people don’t even get or are concerned with/about. You know. Each chance you get…enjoy life.
Lesson Three: Take Care of Your People.
My father said this to me via phone from his hospital bed. And he said this to me repeatedly. Truth is, do your best. Make the good effort. But don’t do this in absence of you…you are your ‘people’ too.
Lesson Four: Step Back – Strategize – Execute
Whenever I had tough decisions to make and my emotions were high due to stress. He would remind me about who I was. You are “Landria Seals hyphen Green” (he always said hyphen). He would then remind me to step back – strategize – and execute. My job was not to hesitate as the player in the game. Believe in myself having done the research, thought about it.
Lesson Five: Not Everyone Will Understand. Pleasing People Is Never Your Problem.
Figure out who your audience truly is. The people and your clients will benefit when you please an audience of One.
Lesson Six: You were made for this. You have everything inside of you to do this. Keep Pushing.
I spoke to my father about twice a day each day. When he was in the hospital, he called me twice a day. We maintained our schedule of communication. He coached me…telling me that I was made for this moment. He told me that he could see the detail in my execution based upon his conversation(s) with the hospital staff. He told me he was proud of me and that I could handle this. He was steady and so was I. No tears…we were in a game (open to the outcome) understanding that we would win in both scenarios. And as his daughter, I would execute well. He trusted me. So when the ball was passed in our Last Dance, I understood fully the preparation that he gave my sister and I.
What I know for sure…no matter the circumstances…when you are a Leader- Coach…you remain in that role no matter what life throws at you. But great leaders…pass the baton throughout their experience with their team. Questions we must ask ourselves as we support people remotely…was the huddle where people thrive most? Or is the point of the huddle to assemble and go back out and execute? No judgement about where people are in their leadership…but this moment of ‘COVID-remote working-technology newness- telehealth onboarding’…are you focused on the camaraderie of the huddle or the information and teaching from the ‘huddle moments’.
It is a challenge for me to not have my daily calls…but I feel prepared to face our next. Steady….Strategizing…..Executing…
A Clinical Leader who is moving to a new level of what it means to Thrive
To learn more about my father, http://www.robertseals.life