Crummy Boss? Sneaky Peers? Let It Go.

Posted 06.18.2010

Every so often, I’ll have a conversation with a client who is really frustrated with someone at work. It could be a really difficult boss or a peer who is only focused on his own agenda. What I frequently see with clients in these situations is a lot of pent up negative energy about the other person. You don’t have to scratch the surface very hard for the client to go off on a bit of a rant about how unreasonable the boss is or how selfish the peer is. 

Understandable but not very productive. What’s happening in these situations is illustrated by a little formula developed by leadership coach Tim Gallwey. It goes like this:

P = p – i

Your performance is equivalent to your potential minus the interference. A lot of people mistake the interference for an external factor like the bad boss or the sneaky peer. That’s not the interference; that’s the trigger for the interference. The interference is the story that builds and builds in your head that gets you so wound up, stressed out or ticked off that you can’t think clearly. The next thing you know, all of that internal interference has overwhelmed any potential you have to perform at your best.

So, what can you do about this? 

Simply put, let it go and move on. I’m not suggesting you ignore the impact of the difficult colleagues’ actions. What I am suggesting is that you let go of your long term story about how unfair and rotten it all is. The story is not doing you any good. As a matter of fact, it’s getting in your way. Your attention needs to be on what you can do now and in the future to change the situation or the relationship for the better. You have to start with what’s happening now and what your options are.

It reminds me of a story I read years ago in a book by Wayne Dyer. Here’s the essence of it. Imagine you’re on a motorboat moving across a lake. Ask yourself three questions. First, what’s propelling the boat forward?  The answer is the energy being created by the motor in the present moment. The second question is what do you see standing on the back of the boat? The answer is the wake that was created by energy that’s already been spent. The last question answers itself – can the wake move the boat forward?

Where are you spending your energy? On where you’ve been or where you’re going?