Here is a coaching story I tell lovely participants who come on the Polished Leadership Workshop who want to boost their personal power, and also I tell it coaching clients who have set a goal to be more assertive. It’s a metaphor and I am sure you will get it.
Here’s the story
“Once upon a time, a few years ago, Brenda hired a skip to clear the rubbish from her section. The skip was booked for a week, and she had a happy day filling it all up, and feeling all satisfied with how tidy her garden and home were looking.
The next morning, when she went out to continue the most massive de-cluttering ever, she found a big bag of rubbish in the skip. Hmm, she thought. It’s probably okay, it’s only one, and not taking up too much room. Over the next week, every morning when Brenda went out of the house, there were more and more bags of rubbish in the skip that weren’t hers. She didn’t do anything about it, because she didn’t know what to do. Invent ‘Skip Cam’ to somehow catch people in the act? And so every day the skip got fuller and fuller of rubbish that wasn’t Brenda’s rubbish.
Until one day Brenda went out there and there was a giant black bag perching on top of the skip, just bursting and oozing with horrid stinky rubbish, like old eggshells. Bleuggh! She had had enough. She jumped into the skip and went through all the new rubbish to find an envelope or some means of identification so that she could return it all to it’s owners. [Brenda wore rubber gloves and full Hazmat outfit.]
Random passers-by saw her doing this, and probably thought she had lost it.
Until finally, she realised she was looking through other people’s rubbish. In public. And really, what would she do if she found an egg-smeared envelope with someone’s name on it? Return it all to sender?
So Brenda calmly, and with as much dignity as possible, got out of the skip, bathed in a gallon of hand sanitiser, and rang the company to take the skip away early. And ever since then, whenever she cleans her garden, she finishes it in one go and removes the rubbish immediately.”
Lesson – don’t invite people to treat you badly and put their stuff onto you. You have enough of your own to keep on top of.