Just Tell Them What You See

So much of coaching and leadership is defined in those moments when our circumstances are most difficult.

When it comes to difficult circumstances, there are many schools of thought. There are no lack of well intentioned and thoughtful ideas, opinions, and frameworks to support us: crucial conversations, emotional intelligence, integral theory, radical candour, psychological safety, conscious leadership, systems thinking, spiral dynamics, etc.

While these are good things… they are, at the same time, also “a market”. And these markets are constantly calling on our time and energy on the topic of difficult circumstances. To say the market is overwhelming would be understating the case. So that I would humbly offer that when circumstances are difficult – the most impactful and compassionate way to approach is really quite simple.

Just tell them what you see.

Telling them what you see isn’t controlling, clever, or kind… it is purposeful and humble. It means holding the truth of what you see, while at the same time holding the truth of your partial sight with purpose and intention. In my experience, telling them what you see naturally invites others to offer what they see as well.

The hardest part for me in these moments is letting go. Letting go means freeing myself of all the beautiful ideas, opinions, and frameworks intended to support me. It means letting go that there is a “right way” or “best way” to address difficult circumstances.

Letting go also means digging deep within myself so that do not offer what I see from a place that seeks to feed my insecurities. It also means accepting myself when I realize (too late) that I did feed my insecurities. It also means accepting myself (and the other) when I realize that my offer surfaced an insecurity in the other person. The more I practice this, the more I find myself both apologizing and forgiving with genuine love and integrity. There’s love and forgiveness involved in this core practice.

And so, when I reflect on the difficult circumstances in my life… I now intentionally seek out the space to distill with simplicity: What is it that I see? Who do I need to tell? What do I need to let go?

And then… I tell them what I see.

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