A Coaching Power Tool created by Augustine John Serrao
(Executive Coaching, INDIA)
When I was growing up in my career, I had this insane desire to close every conversation, every open loop in my life. This was as true in my professional life as it was in my personal. It was like if there was no logical closure, I felt incomplete. For eg. If the HR Manager had promised to come back with a proposal that we were jointly working on (I was heading Finance back then), and if he didn’t, I would get very upset. In my mind, everything needed closure. Perhaps it was a fallout from my Finance training or upbringing where we had to reconcile everything, never mind that the cost of reconciling sometimes far out-weighed the benefit. This part also crept into my personal life to the point where I would get upset with my wife for not closing out things or keeping me informed. I wasn’t even prepared for the fact that one could leave things open and still feel safe and comfortable.
The impact on my strong desire to close loops lead me to form opinions about people. These opinions reflected in my relationships and interactions. Somehow I started judging them from a lens of
these folks don’t have the courage to see things through.
Personally for me it took compulsive proportions to the point where I had to have the last say in every email, acknowledge and thank the person for every sms and work towards closing the loop every time. It was time consuming, sometimes daunting and most certainly nerve wracking.
I had to dot every i and cross every t even when I was writing a simple sms to feel like it is complete. Today my 17 year old teenaged son writes smses that go something like this:
I no pa im sry!!! U no u dnt believe me but i ha been attendin all the classes ….i hadnt brought my hindi text book last week n today i hadnt completed my hindi wrk book tats y mam marked me absent!!! Im telln the truth…this is the reason for my absentness…
If I had to re-write this, it would go as follows:
I know Pa I am sorry!!! I know you don’t believe me but I have been attending all the classes ….I hadn’t brought my Hindi text book last week and today I hadn’t completed my Hindi work book. That’s why teacher marked me absent!!! I am telling the truth…this is the reason for my being absent…
Now please remember that he speaks impeccable English and knows his spellings as well. For someone like me who insists on writing even smses like one writes prose, this can be infuriatingly frustrating. I often have to remind myself that sms stands for short messaging service.
I also realized I didn’t love myself enough. I wasn’t forgiving myself especially if things don’t go as planned. I was being too hard on myself and not allowing for things to slip up from time to time and that it was indeed okay.
After growing and maturing (hopefullyJ), I have become more tolerant towards seeking closure. I am more comfortable accepting a non-response and leaving it at that. I am learning from my son on how to use sms more effectively. I must admit that even now I find it hard
2 snd sms n tis frm bt wt th hck!. as lng as msg undrstud, its stl k.
I have also come to the labored conclusion that my quest for perfection, quest of trying to be that amazing guy who closes every loop may not be everyone’s cup of tea. We are all different and are at different points in our learning journey. I need to feel compassion and let go. I need to not only love others but also love myself.
I am reminded of the great commandment in the Bible in Matthew 22:37-39 which says
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and will all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The act of loving others is preceded first and foremost by the act of loving myself. Unless I do so, I will find it very hard to love others.
It is okay to not strive to close every loop. Sometimes it is better not to close loops as it allows me the opportunity to go back and re-engage with that person and better my relationship. I have to allow for the fact that my desiring closure may not be somebody else’s objective. He/She may not be interested in helping me to close out things as they may be mired in their priorities. I need to be open to the possibilities of being comfortable with a state of being, of awareness where I am equally at peace whether the loop is closed or not.
I need to be able to love and forgive myself.