Let more people jog on in 2018

New year. New strand of blog posts.

This post is for your imaginary Thoroughly Good Packed Lunch.

As nourishing as left-over turkey, raw carrots, and a pear. 

 

I’ve been laid up with flu the past few days.

The worst of it is gone now. I was able to watch the New Years Day Concert yesterday without sobbing uncontrollably at the sheer beauty of the Austrian landscape. I’m also now able to tell what day of the week it is, and climb to the top of the stairs on my feet instead of my knees.

Don’t feel sorry. I don’t seek out pity. There is a lot of it about.

I mention it here because I think the flu maybe the best motivator for decision-making and prioritising.

Take the real life case this past weekend of the motivational speaker, ‘influencer’ and coach (I’m not going to mention his name – not the done thing) who in the spirit raising his already considerably high profile, wrote a LinkedIn post trumpeting his career achievements to date.

It used an written style which was at best a bit of a humble-brag and at worst the kind of shiny power coach utterance that brings quite a lot of people out in hives.

It got a lot of people’s backs up on The Twidder Machine. Said coach received a lot of responses from people articulating their annoyance at his clickbaity writing.

For my money I was annoyed about him calling himself a coach. I’m sure he is a coach – I’m not saying he’s a liar. My beef was that his post wasn’t really very coachy. It was along the lines of ‘Look at me. Look at what I’ve achieved. Pay attention to me. Look at what I’ve achieved. I have life all sorted out. I can show you the new path.’

Such shiny power coaches have a defining set of characteristics I find: white teeth, a cold smile, a Madonna mic, and, importantly, a roll neck jumper (usually in creepy black).

They do give coaching a bit of bad name, making it impossible for the rest of us to mark out our patch and secure new work.

You can see I’m sure, that like many others on Twitter I got quite worked up too. I nearly posted a slightly more professional response (minus the defining characteristics) when I remembered a comment I read on a Facebook post in a thread about online bullying. The poster had written: “I’ve taken to pausing before I respond to some hate online and asking myself, ‘What will I gain by doing this?’

The question he posed is a glorious interrupter (I think that’s the word). It interrupts the emotional reaction we have to everything in the world around us (which always comes first), giving the rational side of our brain a chance to chip in and affect behaviour.

I asked myself the same question regarding the shiny power coach post and refined it a bit. ‘What will gain from interacting with this man, and will it turn out to be more valuable to me than the energy I conserve not interacting with him?’

It’s basically an equation. Bear with me. I was shit at algebra at school.

If X is greater than Y then proceed.

If X is less than Y then do not proceed. 

Where X is the value derived engaging with a shiny power coach online*, and Y is the value derived from doing sweet fuck all.

*exchange for your own personal annoyance in the moment

And the thing is that when flu drains your body of all but the bare essentials required to get you from the bedroom to the bathroom and back again, it’s a pretty easy calculation to make.

I didn’t reply. Admittedly, I wrote this post instead – I reckoned this was far more valuable in the long run. But the point is that flu stopped me from engaging with someone I really don’t need to engage with and helped me concentrate on what was important: conserving energy.

Imagine scaling that up for the year. Or if twelve months seems a little ambitious, what about just for a day?

I don’t want to preach. I certainly don’t want to advise. But I see this post as the digital equivalent of a packed lunch for your first day back to work in 2018.

Every time someone gives you the impression they want you to engage, do the difficult thing and ask yourself what exactly is in it for you? Be brutal (though not brutal out loud), and enjoy resisting the temptation. If there isn’t anything discernibly useful, let them jog on.

Or, you could just catch the flu, I suppose.

Jon Jacob is a BBC-trained and ICF Accredited Coach, specialising in management, executive, and leadership coaching.
He currently works with people in the arts, media, and higher education.
Contact him on 07768 864655 or at jon.jacob@thoroughlygood.me.

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