What to do When Challenges in Someone Else's Life Affect Your Work

What to do When Challenges in Someone Else's Life Affect Your Work

Like most of us, I’m pretty much going full speed all the time. But then times like these show up that demand so much more. When full go is all there is in every area: career, relationship, life, spirit. I’m in the throws of one of those times, so I thought I could be provide some helpful considerations for when life comes to be with you or one of your staff for a while.

I find am overwrought with thought. While I’m executing, my brain is sifting through the mental checklist of what’s next. It is 24/7 planning & next steps…only there is a mountain of them. The everyday full go I know and love is basically kindergarten compared to this.

Thankfully, it’s not that things are going badly, it’s the amount of intensity in combination with the quantity.

Video Version:

How to Help not Hinder your team when they are going through an inevitable challenge in their life.

What's happening...well, let's look at July

At the beginning of the month, my husband accepted a job in Sausalito, CA. Super exciting time for us because we always wanted to land in Northern California ever since 9 years ago when we celebrated his 40th there.

He had been in conversations with his new place throughout May and June. Relocation was not going to happen until September, perhaps October depending on some things. We were completely content with that, it allowed for the mental and physical transition time to happen. Except that when you want something bad enough, you do whatever it takes to make it happen.

They recently changed their minds and now want an earlier start date. Sure, I thought, late August is better even, more exciting. But it wasn’t August my husband needed to be there, it was July (ahem…it is July, people!). Not to worry, he can start towards the end of July, plenty of time. Game on. It’s early in the month, we can do this. Moving. 8 hours north. Basically, now. Got it. 


My cousin’s birthday is July 24th. She passed away last November, too young and too suddenly. This July marks her 50th, we had her funeral, now it was time to celebrate her life. I am very much looking forward to this family reunion and am preparing for the mental stretches coming: cross country travel (literally coast to coast), the new time frame for Northern Cal means I’ll be gone for a week in the midst of our move, I have my own work to do that I need to weave in, and oh yeah…while wonderful, it was going to be heart-wrenching.

But I was not going to be swayed, I want to be there.

(Side note: Being able to be in the moment has never served me so well as it has in these times. To focus on one accomplishment at a time, I could see the mountain was getting climbed while enjoying where I currently was.)

Lastly, storms were rampant up and down the East coast on both days of my travel. I was delayed for 2 days coming back to California. Full go was still going. And it wasn’t like my husband was up north eating Bon Bons. I’m stunned and grateful at what we have pulled off together this month.


Life sneaks up on all of us and rewrites what we think is the current story. I never thought I would have the courage to leave the security of my corporate job for my own business (a roller coaster I truly love). I never thought we would make it to NorCal this year. I also never thought I would bury my cousin. 

Whether we are the boss, the leader, or one of our employees, the game of life spares no one. We are all on the receiving end at one point or another. Is someone suddenly struggling more than usual with performance, morale, or drive? Before you make assumptions, think, pause, and check in. Maybe they are having one of their own July’s. Perhaps a parent or child is sick, or they are having marital issues, or have just had a run of awful luck. Wouldn’t a show of support help them survive their July? Take a piece of the load off? Don’t be predictable by being annoyed, surprise them by offering understanding. Your support shows you care for them as a person, that they are so much more than just a worker-bee. 

These are the times when your ability of understanding what true leadership is will come into play. When you can truly see what is happening to the person (not to you),  what is at stake and how you can help. Even your best people (shoot…even you!) will experience troubling times and need a strong leader’s understanding. As you can imagine, the love shown here is so appreciated, and the relationship between the two of you is now much deeper.

The Benefit of the Benefit

When you are able to offer help and understanding, you are set free as well. You are not upset because of what they are doing or are not doing. You are able to see through that metric and ask how the person is. We spend a lot (a lot!) of precious time with one another at work where we share life’s highs and lows. Let work be a place of certainty and support, not scrutiny. 

I’m on the downward slope now. Things are packed. I’m surrounded by boxes. I’m talking packed to the point of 2 bowls and 2 plastic forks. Cereal was dinner.

I will have spent my first night in Sonoma when you all read this Thursday morning. 
Ahhhh. I’ve made it.