Bring in the Clowns

By Camille Smith, President of Work in Progress CoachingGirl clown nose

George, a treasury analyst in a F500 company, was having a hard time managing commitments at work and home.  His dedication and hard work were creating excellent results at work.  However, complaints about work and home conflicts began to litter his conversations.  His effectiveness and enjoyment were decreasing.

In our coaching, we focused on the possibility and the practices of being complaint-free.  The list of complaints was sizeable. High on the list was his complaint about how last-minute work requests infringed on his planned-in advance family time. Recently he missed his daughter’s circus day at school.   He’d promised her he’d be there, then something came up and he was a no-show … again.

George was bright and lively as he talked about his daughter’s “creative” dressing and her tries at handstands and cartwheels.  She was being “free” and unconstrained.  He acknowledged that being around her and her playfulness gave him permission to be a bit wacky at home.  Still he missed circus day.

By chance, I had a red nose in my briefcase (a story for another time).  I handed it to him along with an invitation to wear it that night when he went home. The opportunity: Generate the circus and, most importantly, let his daughter know how much he appreciated her and her joyfulness.

Then I encouraged George to bring the “circus” to work. At his next team meeting, he put on the red nose and shared about his daughter and how he demonstrated his appreciation for her playfulness with her circus antics.

The team got over the shock of George’s nose and acknowledged each other for the sacrifices they make.  George passed out red noses.  He invited them to appreciate their families and friends in playful positive ways.  George’s willingness to bring “home to work” opened the possibility for nose-to-the-grindstone analysts to do the same.

George is a great example of what Kouzes and Posner write in Encouraging the Heart.  “When a leader models positive and encouraging behaviors, others will follow. The result is enthusiasm and commitment multiply in the work place.  As positive emotions permeate the organization, they have a positive impact on the employees by reducing stress.”

Camille is President of Work in Progress Coaching, a California coaching company.

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