Rhonda was fed up with this guy. He was generous and needy, rich and deprived all at the same time. He took too much of her attention and she spent too much of her time trying to anticipate, then avoid, his next move. The way she described him, John could have been her boss or her boyfriend. I thought he was her boyfriend. He happened to be her boss.
While she described all his faults, his demands, his generosity when things went right, and his pettiness when even little things went wrong, Rhonda hired me to help her create a list of things she could do to better manage him. She wanted to pacify his needs, and was struggling to make her days more successful.
Needless to say (maybe?), coaching her to change her behavior and assuage the ego of her boss was not something I recommended. Though we began to discuss how she could manage herself within that world.
A big part of her job was to go out and present to small groups of franchise owners, many of whom were running a small business for the first time. She was really good at her job and the franchise owners loved their time with her; but boy, could John ever muck it up!
His personality didn’t really lend itself to supporting her success, especially since he was in charge. She did her job and loved it, but quite often he either wanted to come along or significantly edit her script or presentation. Because she felt close to him, they ended up going head-to-head before every customer meeting, sometimes having to cancel.
I think she could have run circles around him, and he probably knew it. So as we begin to outline how she can maintain her boundaries, and manage her work world; she drops the bomb. I had an inkling about this and asked a simple question, “Is there something more?”
You know exactly what it is, right? Yep, they are in a relationship.
Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art, said in an interview, “Most of us have two lives: the life we live and the unlived life within us, between the two is resistance.”
This is why Rhonda wanted a list. She wanted an “out” for the resistance she was feeling. One that would give her the permission to leave this job, and leave John. If John didn’t act like she had outlined on the list, then she would be able to obfuscate all responsibility. She could blame him without doing any of her own introspection.
When she told me they were “together” it changed the whole dynamic! Luckily this happened in our second session! In Passion Forward this “coming clean” happens in Module #3. How could I possibly help her without the truth – as hard as it was to tell me? She basically hated this guy, but because she had nabbed this handsome social climber, she felt she was on the right track, and most women would love to be with him. She was winning, right?
Here’s where we come clean. There’s nothing Rhonda needs to tell me, or anyone, if she feels this isn’t right. She can play this game as long as she’d like. But she sure as sh*t better be talking to herself about she wants – and she knows she doesn’t want this.
John’s a baby, and for some reason he got to be where he is. He flaunts it, and uses it, and everyone thinks he’s grand. But that doesn’t mean he always gets what he wants. And frankly, I’m Rhonda’s coach…
One of the things I find helpful when someone is veering off their path, and hires me because they know it, is to work with them on what Gloria Steinem called The Future Self. Module #3 of Passion Forward is titled “Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want” because, using this example, Rhonda wanted to get ahead, but she also wanted to get away! She needed to come clean for herself and no one else.
She arrived with the “I want to get ahead” story, but then realized what she really, really wanted was the “I want to get away” scenario.
When she aligned her personal values and desires with her truthful and engaged Future Self, she knew exactly how to proceed. And that’s the rub. Our work after that understanding became pretty easy.
Everyone has a calling and each one of us needs to figure it out and get about the business of that.