Who or what are you running late for?

All too often you may find yourself in a highly pressurised situation. But have you actually stopped to take a deep look as to where said “pressure” has stemmed from? According to Jill Livesey, Senior Executive Coach, IECL, looking to your sense of self-worth will determine your ability to react or respond in any given situation.


I bumped into a friend at the bus stop the other day. The buses were running late, the traffic looked shocking and my friend was growing more and more agitated. The muttering started. “I can’t believe these buses some days, and the traffic at the moment is woeful.  I should have left earlier …”

I empathised. I too hate it when I am running late; it’s one of the things that most pushes my buttons. 

“Okay”, she said, “You’re the coach – how should I keep calm?” 

Well, I truly do try very hard to remember to practice some mindfulness; breathing very deeply and following my breath, helping to get the blood flowing to the thinking part of my brain. I then try to get some perspective by asking myself “what truly will be the impact of this?”

So, what would I ask? How will it matter for you? (What, being late?) Yes, what’ll be the impact? Who are you keeping waiting? Will they be understanding? And if not, what can you do to recover the situation? 

“Oh,” she said, “I’m not keeping anyone waiting…” 

“So, what’s the angst?”

“Well it’s just that I’m professional, I’m disciplined, I get to my desk at a certain time and I don’t really like to ‘be late'”

As she said the words ‘be late’ I could see a sort of shift in her thinking; “late for what?”. Late for an appointment with her sense of self-worth, perhaps? 

Often in coaching this topic comes up for exploration as to whether it’s about your self-worth or the greater good?  Staying up until midnight to prep further for that presentation – at that point, is it about your self-worth or are you truly working hard for your audience’s benefit? It can be a useful question to ask yourself when you find you are reacting to a situation. If the answer is self-worth, perhaps try a more creative response. There is much talk at the moment about the excellent concept of Growth Mindset (Carole Dweck). To care more about what we’ve learnt versus how we’ve “looked to others” often needs us to let go of that attachment to our sense of self-worth.

Jill Livesey, has worked as an Executive Coach since 2006 in the areas of banking, financial services, pharmaceutical, professional services, and the public service. In career coaching, Jill has worked with people at all levels across all industries who are looking to re-align their role, gain a promotion, or take an entirely different career path.

Further reading: Fixed Mindset Versus a Growth Mindset by Kate Mathers