Ralph is a character I made up using a number of current coaching clients and their challenges and situations.
Ralph’s story is interesting as I believe it represents what a lot of people at some time or another experience at work. His story may not be your’s, or you may see elements of your life in Ralph’s story.
We all have a bit of Ralph in our life.
The story of Ralph… are you a Ralph?
Ralph is not the CEO, he is a few levels down in what would probably be called middle management. He is a professional and good at what he does. For years he has steadily risen up through the ranks in his profession, increasing his skills, gaining experience in a variety of situations; he is “successful”. But something is not right.
Questioning his career goals for the first time
Ralph has recently noticed himself pondering some strange and unusual questions regarding his work and career. Questions like…
“I have all the necessary skills and experience but going up in my career just feels wrong, where is my path now?”
“Money is not my problem at the moment, it is starting to be more about meaning, how can my work make more of a difference without me having to start a new career?”
Ralph wants more alignment between who he is, what he does and where he works. Ralph isn’t sure but it feels like a mini mid-life crisis, well maybe not a crisis but certainly a cause for concern.
Low energy at work indicates something is wrong
The other disturbing thing that has started to occur recently is that Ralph senses that his general mood at work is lower; it is not that he is depressed but the energy is no longer there. In his heart Ralph knows that it won’t be long before his manager reports back to him that some of his work colleagues have concerns around his attitude. Ralph feels that he is becoming difficult to “get along with”.
Ralph does not think he has changed but that things have changed around him and somehow he has not kept up and feels a little out of place. Sometimes (more and more lately) Ralph feels like he is faking it, not being authentic just to please everyone around him and keep his job secure.
An uncomfortable feeling at work that is hard to explain
All this has created a sense of uncomfortableness in Ralph that he is finding hard to define, explain and understand. He thought maybe he just needed a holiday, but after coming back and within a week he felt the same. It’s as though he feels stressed all the time but does not know why.
Ralph knows something needs to change, Ralph is ready to change but is unsure as to where to start.
So what’s the point of this post!?
Is Ralph’s situation “bad”? No, he has some data coming in, information from his senses and intuition that he should listen to, assess and act on. Part of my challenge as a coach is to educate folks on when and how to listen to what I call “weak” signals.
SShhhh…. quiet…. listen
Weak signals are faint sometimes almost undetectable opportunities for positive change that if we have low self-awareness we do not heed. Also being stressed, too narrowly focused or overloaded reduces the chance of you picking up these signals.
Next week I’ll post about what Ralph did next to move himself forward.