I have a look of absolute of outrage on my face – I can tell because I feel that vein popping out between my eyebrows and I yell out, “That is the dumbest thing I have heard all year,” during a meeting. Fortunately, I work from home and my phone was on mute. There are advantages to working from home that have kept me from serious breaches of business etiquette.
This particular department wanted us to spend more time with the customer and process more customers per quarter. Adding staff or eliminating processes is not an option. The department head with a slight chuckle mumbled, “Well, admittedly this request had conflicting priorities.” OK, I shamefully admit I succumbed to theatrics, “OK, are we just stuck on stupid?”
I quickly turned to the fitness mind before my business voice made another career limiting remark. Is there a yoga pose where you pull in two different directions? Eka Pada Koundinyanasana variation – dedicated to the sage. Leaning forward from a lunge, I literally kick my foot forward so hard it lifts off my forearm while pushing through the back foot up so strongly it soars skyward. It is a moment of floating – defying gravity. This is the total opposition and the dance of flexibility and strength. How does this work off the yoga mat and into life?
For work, I was stationary, fixed in place. I focused on group productivity and daily workloads. I prepared for a battle of statistics. These are the facts. What you are asking is impossible and this is why. The reality is I was mired in minutia. I could have held that same limiting belief in yoga. These are the facts I am standing on my two legs and there is no way I can lift them off the ground for any sustained period of time. But I can and I did because I moved. I did not stay stuck in one place. How does this relate to work?
1. Define the direction.
Obviously the situation required movement, but in what direction? I identified the common goal for all of us. What both sides wanted better served and satisfied customers.
2. Understand areas of strength and areas of flexibility
Understanding the distinction between the strength and the flexibility is key. I had to find the strength – those things that are rather stable and not subject to change – my team’s resources and the departments requests and the flexibility – how do I find those additional resources (additional staff and reduction of processes) when what I have at my disposal cannot change. This combination of strength and flexibility will yield a solution.
3. Find the balance
The process is strong and some areas are very rigid due to an external accreditation we maintain. However, once I looked at reports, I did see about 20% of the population that were coming to us shouldn’t be. By posting a “note” on the website, we were able to decrease the customer flow, thus allowing us to spend more time with the “right” customers.
It takes a bit of practice but it can work. I had another dilemma to sort out – a Sedona yoga retreat with friends when I had already spent my “fun” money for a MacBook Air with some bells and whistles. Now my position is here is no money, but I have never been to Arizona, I have always wanted to go to Sedona and I need a vacation.
“There is no money is rigid” is fixed. With that in mind, I look for areas with financial flexibility. I go to Starbucks twice a day. Why? I work from home – I have to get out of the house. But, my habit is $60 a week – over $240 a month. If I change beverages (no more tall, soy chai teas) I can save $150 a month. Well, that’s a start. I can skip monthly facials for a while, I don’t need to go to a salon for a deep conditioning hair treatments and I can cook more and eat out less. Six weeks later – I already have $400 saved and with 4 months before the trip. So yes, this is going to work.
I can’t stand still and go forward. Working with opposition is a balance of strength and flexibility, pushing in one area and lifting in another. It is the acknowledgement that going forward requires movement.