Cole’s Feeling Chart
Jeff, a senior executive, told our Townsend Leadership Program (TLP) group during check-in one day, “I am officially in trouble.”
We were curious. “What’s going on?”
“My son was not behaving well recently, so we sent him to bed early. That’s hard for him and he usually groans and there’s a lot of whining. But this time, he went to his room quietly and he didn’t come out. So after an hour, my wife and I were concerned. We went to his room to check on him and this picture shows what we found—a feeling chart!”
Cole explained, “Well, at first I felt angry, and then moved to happy because I wanted to wake up happy in the morning.”
Jeff thought, “What 7-year-old makes a feeling chart on his own?”
Jeff had his own feelings about this too—at first, he was worried, then proud, then, he admitted, a little envious. “This stuff doesn’t come as easily for me.”
After all, his 7-year-old autonomously identified his emotions and then created a tool to help self-soothe and self-manage! In the end, Jeff felt validated. “I guess my hard growth work rubbed off on my son. That makes it even more worth it!”
Like many high level leaders, Jeff is a get-it-done type of guy, with little tolerance for missed deadlines and differences in how people operate. Jeff realized that he sometimes came across as harsh, impatient, and judgmental, when what he really wanted was to improve performance.
In fact, the way he addressed issues often had the opposite effect—shutting people down rather than encouraging dialog to get to the source of an issue. Mistakes would get hidden and problems were not getting resolved.
“I want to be the kind of leader that helps people grow and I want to bring out the best in our people and our processes. If we’re not doing that, we’re not thriving as a company.”
And it wasn’t just work that concerned Jeff. “I want to be the kind of father and husband that shows my family I love and respect them, really accept each of them for who they are, exactly as they are. I want my home to be a place where we feel safe and connected enough to express ourselves fully in all situations and work out our conflicts. It can get messy at times, but that’s okay!”
Jeff has transformed the way he approaches people and he gives a lot of credit to John Townsend and his experience in TLP, a small group format for leaders (7–10 participants) to have a confidential and safe place to set and achieve goals, share challenges, have professional accountability and contribute their own background and experiences to one another.
Jeff is learning to listen well and not immediately react when he sees mistakes. Jeff said, “Let’s face it—this isn’t easy. It takes repeated practice to notice what you are feeling, breathe in, don’t say anything right now, go for a walk, don’t send that email, right got it, breathe in some more. . .”
On reflecting on Cole’s feeling chart, Jeff told us, “What more could I want, but to see evidence that I have modeled some behaviors that could save Cole years of angst from relational mishaps with others. In today’s work environment, it’s all about relationships, collaboration and being of service to others.”
7 year old Cole demonstrated one of many mindfulness practices to build resilience – most of which involve managing strong emotions, by being present, accepting what is happening, having compassion for oneself, and intentionally finding a way to get back to a calm place, rather than react at the wrong time, in a damaging way.
Townsend Leadership Program
To find out more about what makes the group leadership training model so effective, read John’s newly released book, People Fuel: Fill Your Tank for Life, Love and Leadership, or see my TLP page.
The Townsend Leadership Program is a small group format comprising 7–10 leaders who meet one full day a month. The groups are facilitated by a professional TLP Director—usually a seasoned executive coach, former executive and/or counselor. TLP members—who are young and older, male and female, from many different industries—set 3 targeted stretch goals each year.
The program is holistic in nature, in that members are encouraged to address career and life growth goals and go deeper in their ability to be aware of internal stuff that may be limiting their success. The TLP day consists of an update on stretch goal progress, a leadership training topic for discussion and application, and plenty of time for members to share wins and challenges, as well as personal and professional developments.
In the process members practice tuning up their empathy skills and learn new skills to give feedback in a way that is most helpful. Each member also has an individual monthly coaching session.
Elaine Morris leads one TLP group each year, and is now accepting applications for the January 2020 group. Email Elaine for an application or to set up a time to talk.