In my early days as a consultant I was involved in some large outplacement projects, working with individuals recently made redundant and helping them prepare for life after redundancy. It often concerned me how regularly people struggled to see what qualities, skills and knowledge they brought to the workplace.
Helping people see and re-write their stories through noticing the sparkle is the best job ever! I get what I describe as a “tingle” when these moments result, often, in a person realising that there’s a hell of a lot that they can bring to a new workplace.
A “Sparkling Moment” is a term from the field of Narrative therapy.
“The idea is to search for what shines out in a positive way — in contrast to the problem story that a client can be stuck in. In finding these moments and exploring them through conversations, alternative possibilities and other realities can become evident.” (1) In the case of outplacement work, clients can move from a grief-stricken experience to creating new and positive realities for themselves.
I choose to find Sparkling Moments everywhere, intertwined in the tiniest to the biggest problematic scenarios.
- Watching my daughters laugh uncontrollably, hugging each other with happy tears in their eyes – tears that only minutes before were sad tears from their monolithic fight. I take a mental picture – the sun shining through the window, the (inevitable) mess around them, the dog barking and jumping, wanting to be a part of this moment. And the sound of my girls’ laughter…that beautiful sound.
- Standing in the world’s messiest house, sharing a secret exasperated smile with my husband as we see yet more stuff being created by the little scientists/artists/demolition experts that we’ve created together. One day this house will be clean and we will have this vivid moment to remember.
- Stuck in traffic at 6.30am when driving past Blackbutt. A family of peacocks strolls through the traffic, not understanding the quiet mayhem they’re causing: people late for a gym class, a work shift, a crazy-early meeting. But in that moment, I giggle. These gorgeous creatures, doing what they do, while people in their cars sit and share this odd moment. The morning light dapples through the trees, cars moving slowly and patiently, big and little birds strutting their stuff, stopping to peck at snacks on the road.
- Attending my father’s funeral, the saddest day of my life. Surrounded by so many friends and family, sharing raucous laughter at the funny stories. Re-forming bonds of friendship that had drifted apart, a glow of togetherness that wouldn’t have occurred if not for this hard day.
Even as I write of these tiny, sparkling moments, I smile. My morning is richer because of these recollections, the world is brighter.
We all know that things outside of our control can and will occur. Yet what IS within our control is how we respond, creating either a negative or positive experience. We can enrich our own and others’ lives by finding the sparkling moments.
This holds true in the workplace, we can find sparkling moments in:
- The redundancy that becomes realised as a path to new and exciting opportunities;
- A stressed, angry comment from a colleague providing the opportunity to have a frank, long-overdue, relief-inducing, brave conversation;
- A crazy work deadline resulting in colleagues spending late nights at work, sharing food, learning about each other and collaboratively succeeding.
In the hardest of times, sparkling moments can be found.
Where will you find yours?