Coaching Corner: Agent of Change

We have a real problem at my house! On Saturdays, I clean out the refrigerator by wiping down the shelves and putting each item where it belongs. Salad dressings go on one shelf, dairy products on another, and fruits and vegetables in separate crispers (as they should be). To me this makes all the sense in the world. When I want something I know right where to look. There is something very satisfying in stepping back and seeing all the containers lined up neat and tidy. By Saturday evening, items are helter skelter, shoved back in wherever an opening exists. I find myself aggravated and upset with my family. What is wrong with them? Something needs to change around here!

How familiar is this situation in your life? Oh it may not be the refrigerator; perhaps it’s the bathroom towels on the floor, or the report that isn’t completed the way you expected it would be. You find yourself feeling sorry for yourself, angry, and blaming others for not being responsible enough, focused enough, or dependable. I recently read The agent of changeAnatomy of Peace, by the Arbinger Institute. This book reminded me of what it takes to be a change agent. Often, the natural tendency is to blame others when something isn’t working and then justify our own reactions, because, of course, they are wrong and we are right. The Anatomy of Peace describes this state as being in the box, a place that limits us and hurts our personal and business relationships. From in the box, we see people as objects and believe our problems would be solved if only they would change.

Coaching as a practice is about taking accountability and ownership. Last week I had to step into accountability. What was making me miserable was not the refrigerator and it wasn’t my family, it was me. I recognized that an organized refrigerator was important to me. No one else in my family gets the same pleasure from it that I do. I asked them to be more aware, and I reminded myself (often) to give them a break. The change that was most needed was a change of heart. Mine.