The Rice Pudding Phenomena

There’s a wonderful poem by A.A. Milne called Rice Pudding. The first verse goes:

What is the matter with Mary Jane?
She's crying with all her might and main,
And she won't eat her dinner - rice pudding again -
What is the matter with Mary Jane?


And the wonderful illustration by E.H. Shepard perfectly captures what this expression of frustration looks and feels like.

One of the things I think is as true for us in adulthood is there are still times when ‘we throw our toys out of the cot’. Each of us has our own version of rice pudding – whether that is how a certain colleague undermines us by taking credit for our ideas .. again; when you feel your ideas are not being heard .. again; or when a team member lets you down by not delivering what or when they said they would .. again.

And in these circumstances, frustration is the natural and appropriate response. But here’s what I think is really going on – we are experiencing a recurring pattern we feel powerless to fix.

But we are not children. We do have power and as leaders we need to learn to exercise it. Where and with whom are you having a rice pudding experience at the moment? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is it about the behaviour that’s bugging me?

  • Why is it having such an impact on me?

  • What do I think is their intent?

  • What do I want to do differently?

  • If I were to behave as the kind of leader I wish to be in this situation what would I do and how would I do it?

 NB: sometimes taking no action is the correct response but only if that’s courageous, not easy.

 #gettingoutofourownway  #ricepuddingphenomena

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