Years ago I began to notice a mysterious phenomenon.
One day, I was stunned to learn that a senior project manager had started a shouting match with a client. A shouting match? We had millions in business with this client; I couldn’t understand how this very experienced and highly competent person ended up making such a mess.
The worst of it was, this was not the last time I heard a story and gasped, “What were they thinking!?” In fact, it seemed to be everywhere… reasonable, sensible, professional people somehow losing it for a moment and ruining relationships with colleagues on whose cooperation they absolutely depended, or poisoning the trust of clients whose business was paying for their mortgage. It made no sense to me.
It was as if there was a kind of “crazy virus” that could infiltrate your head and suddenly you’d be saying and doing damaging things…but couldn’t stop yourself.
What shocked me was not that this could happen, but that it happened to people who knew better.
I assumed that if you had enough time on the job, seniority, experience and good training in your craft, you were safe — immunized against childish outbursts such as shouting matches, vitriolic emails, giving a client the gruff or silent treatment.
I resolved this would not happen to me. I set out to unravel this mystery once and for all so that I could pass it onto my teams. I searched many years for an answer, and I attended more trainings than I care to admit. I learned some very helpful things.
Then it dawned on me… like the people whose actions surprised me so much, I realized, all those great training ideas lived in notebooks on my shelves. They were not alive in me.
Finally I understood the “crazy virus.” It is the inability to access your wiser self in the moment when you most need it.
The author, Elese Coit is a global program management leader. She helps businesses successfully deliver large-scale technical solutions and specializes in solid program governance and healthy teams. She is MSP® and Master Coach certified.