The Message in the Mess

I have spent two seriously long weekends cleaning my family home that is filled with stuff. Too many cabinets filled with outdated food and more. You name the date, it was probably there. But spending that much time in my life cleaning 400 miles from home gave me a lot of time to reflect on which truly being a leader is. The take charge attitude of being reminded to be humble and patient and remembering that my childhood home did not get to the state that defined it in one weekend and it would be impossible for it to be cleaned in one weekend.

What I did have to do often was remind myself that is has been 50 years of accumulation and seven years of accumulated loneliness. My father passed away and the grief of his death is still embedded deeply into the home. His favorite sitting spot has accumulated things to cover the emptiness of him no longer being there. His table has been moved and has accumulated other items to take the place of his mess and memories.

There are many things that are my grandparents that are in the back of the cupboards and my mother hoped that her children would want to one day take those items and treasure them as she has treasured the lost treasures that have gathered dust. She has a kinship to hold onto things that were her past and could have very well been her grandparents past, but she doesn't know for certain what was hers, her mothers or if she has treasures from her grandmother especially since so many items and memories were restored when her grandfather remarried long before her parents met. She continues to hold onto the dishes for 24 guests over a holiday dinner, but hasn't entertained in years, but those hold memories of many dinners in our home.

Being a daughter, I had to remind myself many times not to be harsh, critical or skeptical as to why she wanted to hold onto something that I didn't see the need for her to keep, especially outdated food. You see, my mom taught me to buy in abundance as well and like her, I use to buy food thinking I would one day use it, but found it expired long before I tried the new recipe that I wanted to make and never attempted or looked back at again. But I also recognized what I was doing and stopped the practice, but she is repeating it over and over again.

As a professional coach, I had to coach myself on how I needed to prepare my journey of entering into her world and not push to change her world, but help her to see why she needed to change her world. When she reached out and genuinely asked for help, I had to jump in and make it happen, even with hours of distance between us. Not because I wanted to be a hero, but because I am not there most of the year by choice.

In sharing with friends why I had to change my weekend plans or could not support something they needed support for, I learned my mom is not alone in how she is cocooned in her world. She is fragile to let go of things because she is replacing companionship with material items and even though we don't see eye to eye on how much we should keep or let go of, I have to remind myself that it is only things that we will have to clean when the time comes.

Many of our elderly are frail in mind and that is how you have to view your clients that are brand new to coaching. They are seeking help in their unknown world. Now look at your life and see your strengths as a person what legacy you want to leave behind. Can you truly separate your leadership role from helping your family or can you learn how to coach yourself through helping a person with the transition and change that has been holding them into bondage of collecting things?

The object of a leader is to help someone else grow and to feel better about themselves. It’s not self gratification or self sanctification and you’re not their salvation., You are giving the best of you to the hardest layers of them. The next time you have to do a hard job that wears you out, take all of your energy leaves you at the end of your wits or just completely physically drained you that you resort to taking two Tylenol for the pain, remember how many dishes and toys they picked up for you and how many dishes and toys you are now picking up for them.