October 19, 2023
By Allison Iantosca, ACC
The sound of my alarm took me by surprise. I wasn’t ready. Didn’t want to accept its rude interruption. But it asked for my attention to the day, and I succumbed, albeit with reticence. It didn’t seem to care one way or the other.
Before I pulled off the covers, I could already tell the weather had shifted. We left the window open overnight—fresh, warm air of late September a relief to the dusty, stale, manufactured heat of the baseboard units we turned on the week before. But now the room felt cool. My bare arms back to seeking the soft comfort of my favorite sweatshirt. My bare feet urgent for furry slippers. I stumbled about. Adding layers. Until I was warm again.
And I find myself between here and there. Just like the weather.
It’s a constant state, I think. For a leader. Equally unpredictable as any meteorologic determination of impending weather. Could be stormy. Might blow out to sea. Hang tight and see what happens. Maybe I’ll do that from under the covers if you don’t mind.
Because it’s not that I don’t want the change. Quite the contrary! We have some things to fix for sure. It’s just that I find the in-between so all-consuming. The wondering if I should go back or forward. The worry that there is something to preserve or that there is something so preserved its pickled and should be tossed out.
The powerful myth I buy into time and again that somehow, if I were just a little tougher or smarter; if I were trained on tech or embraced TikTok or delivered pithy feedback; if I were like all those other leaders, who seem to be walking straight down the middle between here and there with no problem, I would be happier/richer/more admired/calmer. Fearless. Perfect. And no one would have a thing to say about it.
But that is a one-sided equation. Because it leaves out, in its entirety, the things I AM doing. The choices I AM making. The band aids I leave in place because to rip them off would be to tear the fabric of my culture. Like the adaptive tech support I offer to those who move more slowly. The slow play in brand development to be sure we don’t miss any key piece before we’re too far out in public. The Individual Development Plan that takes months versus the ten minutes it takes to fire someone. The determination to save an employee from distress before I even remember that I might too be in distress.
What is always so surprising is how easily I dismiss what I AM doing as not enough. And how willing I am to exasperate myself by harping on what I am NOT doing.
What I have learned over the years is how important it is to acknowledge what you ARE doing as a leader. To, actually, love what you are doing. Because it is always coming from a place of good. Even if it may be overused or messy or ineffective these days, it is a behavior that started out in support of you and most likely, still is.
I care deeply. I monitor my integrity regularly. I show up every single minute of every single day. These are the traits that define me and save me. I count on them when there is nothing else left. Could they also be my downfall? Absolutely, but until I see them for what they are—to know how important they feel, how lifesaving they have been—why would I ever want to get rid of them? No, my work, rather, is to love them. And to ask them to be useful to me. And to maybe loosen my grip on them when they aren’t as useful.
To stand with me in the in-between.
Because no, I don’t want to go backward. But backward has also taught me how to go forward. And sometimes that feels like nowhere at all. But it’s not nothing. Just like a sunny day is as much weather as a rainy one. I’m okay either way. And a good coach can help me know this.
Allison Iantosca is a Gestalt International Study Center (GISC) trained coach certified by ICF with extensive leadership and management experience. She is an Executive Coach and is the Owner and President of Boston based FH Perry Builder.
*Photo Credit: NOAA