I didn’t leave my heart in San Francisco when I was working in the States recently, but I did leave my iPhone in the back of an Uber in Boston. I cannot tell you how frustrated and irritated I was with myself when this happened. Aside from the practical inconvenience (although thanks to Matthew and Julie in the office the phone was stopped immediately and the replacement SIM card on its way to me) it chimed very badly with my sense of self as someone who is careful with “stuff”; who looks after it and who doesn’t generally break or lose things.
So how did I come to lose the phone? Simple. I was knackered, and my brain wasn’t working. I’d travelled to Boston the previous Sunday and then done four days’ delivery back to back (with absolutely fantastic clients), two of them with a migraine. On Wednesday night my husband had arrived for a long weekend and this meant us leaving the hotel where I was lodging and moving to an Airbnb apartment on Thursday. The apartment itself was fantastic but in shall we say a “challenging” area and my brain was contending with looking after myself, both practically and potentially from a personal security perspective. Add a bit of residual jetlag into the mix and my brain didn’t register the thud that was my phone falling out of my pocket as I left the cab, on what was now Friday morning.
To add insult to injury, there was a glitch with my Uber account that meant I couldn’t get logged in, and from there contact the driver, until 36 hours later (and she didn’t come back to me immediately either. By this time the phone was nowhere to be seen, sadly).
Cue lots of metaphorical beating self up, so much so that I had a little cry (now that does sound ridiculous, I know) over lunch on Friday, because I was so disappointed in myself. Then I decided to get a grip on myself. I’d already managed to put it more or less to one side during the two hour walking trip of Boston that morning (with a fantastic guide called Alan at Boston City Walks) in the snow. But I kept catching myself saying “I’m such an idiot”, or “How could I have been so stupid?” And you know what that achieves? Absolutely nothing. We can’t turn back time, so we have to get on with what we’re dealing with, otherwise we’re lost in a mire of “if only” and insidious self talk.
When I’m working with coaching clients who are beating themselves up for something they did or didn’t do I’ll sometimes ask them what they would say to their best friend, if the friend found themselves in the same situation. And universally, they are much kinder to the other person than they would be to themselves. Every time.
So I decided to practise kindness on myself, and to look at the rational explanation for how it happened (I was knackered etc. etc. and my brain was overloaded; it had taken me about half an hour that morning to make coffee with the filter machine in the apartment. I knew it was going badly when I poured water into the filter rather than the compartment at the back – this was the moment with hindsight that should have told me how tired I was).
Being kinder to myself helped, and the next step was to think about what to do differently if I find myself in a similar situation again. Well, keep my phone in a bag (I hadn’t taken one) for starters. Or even leave it behind for the day!
Doing this (being kinder to yourself; considering how what happened, happened; acknowledging the effects and moving forward) is important to our mental resilience. It’s an important topic to me, and one that I try and work on every day. Thanks to this habit I was able to bounce back pretty quickly, with some additional learning to boot.
There are lots of ways to develop resilience. For you, maybe it’s getting outside and connecting with nature? Going for a run? Practising meditation? Taking note of the things you’re grateful for (and boosting your happiness into the bargain)? I’m a fan of walking the dog, talking about it, writing it down, and remembering that it will pass, to name but a few tactics.
Mental resilience, however and wherever you develop it, will help not only with small but large challenges; with personal and professional ones. It’s not about pretending that the problem/challenge/issue isn’t there, isn’t real, but being able to acknowledge how you’re feeling about it; to stay the course and get through the challenge, changed by it certainly, but with new knowledge and coping strategies.
One of the biggest aspects of people’s jobs that is well known to dent their resilience is in giving and receiving feedback, and in my next blog I’ll be talking about how to do both well. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it, and lessons from all areas of life can be applied (even, yes, leaving your phone behind in the back of an Uber). Finally, of course, my heart came home with Mr D, but that’s another story for another day…maybe Valentine’s?
Have a great Friday!
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about the author
Nicky is our Senior Consultant & Executive Coach and is an expert on coaching. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop her an email and we will be in touch.