News and How-tos

Are You Stuck in an Elevator?

Girl in elevator by colemattImagine it now: you find yourself stuck in a metaphorical elevator, watching the numbers slowly tick by as you move from floor to floor. Or, if you are less than lucky, there is no indication whatsoever of which floor you are passing at any given moment.

Every lurch jostles the butterflies in your stomach and throws you off balance. Maybe you lean against one of the walls or maybe you stand in the center of the elevator with a wide stance meant to provide stability during each lurch.

Some of you may be in an elevator that provides such a smooth ride it is impossible to tell if it is moving up or down. Are you even going anywhere?

Regardless of what kind of elevator you find yourself within, there are things you can do to make your ride a little more pleasant and a lot less anxiety-provoking.


Ideas: what to do when waiting in the elevator

1) Determine what is in your control and do something about it.

Choose where you want to be in the elevator. In the center, to one side, near the back, near the front?

Does the elevator have mirrors? This may be a good time to look closely at your perceptions and perspective. Test out other angles and re-focus your lens. What can you see differently?

2) Be patient — find a productive distraction to keep you from going nutty while you wait.

Are there other people in the elevator with you? Is this a good networking moment? Perhaps it is a good opportunity to find out how things are going outside of your team or department.

Have you been too busy to work on that small side-project? Now’s your chance! Just make sure it is an interrupt-able project because the elevator doors could open any minute now.

Image of Leader taking break in elevator3) Take a break! What’s a break, you ask?

You have probably worked very hard to get to the elevator in the first place. You have made it this far– celebrate with a little break! Have a sit-down, doodle, dance, read an exciting adventure book, eat a yummy snack.

Extending this outside the elevator metaphor, you might want to go out to dinner, hit up the tennis courts, meet up with friends you have not seen enough of recently, garden, or go for a long walk.

Basically, do whatever rejuvenates you because you will probably need restored energy levels for what comes when the elevator doors open.

4) Prepare for what is on the other side of those doors when they open.

Do you know where you are going after those doors open? Do you have a plan to deal with any hurdles, like that “wet floor” sign (and the wet floor, of course) or the person refilling the vending machine in your pathway? Is your strategic plan flexible enough to deal with the inevitable adaptations that will be necessary?

What about the people waiting for the elevator? Will one of them drop a last-minute project in your lap? Or maybe you will run into the chattiest person in the office who cannot wait to tell you the latest news. Will you be able to make time for these distractions? If not, can you formulate a polite (yet honest) exit strategy?

And, finally, are you prepared for success? As scary as failure can be, sometimes success is even scarier. Take a deep breath and center yourself. You never know what amazing opportunities might be awaiting you when those elevator doors finally open.

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