I remember when it hit me. I was a junior in college when I determined that what would bring the most satisfaction in my career would be to have a deep impact in people’s lives. I felt there was no better way to do it than to help them within their family relationships. I was conflicted however, because I was equally interested in business. Whenever I would learn a theory or method for intervening and strengthening a family system, in the back of my mind I was translating it to “How would this effect a department or organization?”
While talking to a friend during my doctoral program at Virginia Tech, I told him of my dilemma and desire to use what I was learning in Marriage and Family Therapy to intervene in organizations or other human systems. He told me I ought to look up Harold Kurstedt, a well-respected professor and innovative organizational consultant. To make a long story short, this man loved my ideas and said “You’ve got your hands all over what is most needed in business.” He went to bat for me, got me an assistantship, an office, and helped me fill my first group for the week long training and continued coaching of Solution Focused Leadership.
The experience led to me work inside a large hospital organization that had recently gone through acquisitions and restructuring. A hefty amount of anger, distrust, and disruption that had ensued. Over the course of two years, we had most of the VPs and midlevel managers go through the course of learning how to take a solution focused approach to problems, how to coach one another around work issues, and–what was most exciting to me–how to effect key relationships at home and at work. Our resulting success was a dream come true.
A moment that really took my breath away however, came after we had talked about change taking time and sustained effort, but that it can also happen quickly. One of the VP’s, on a bathroom break, stepped into the hall and called a sister she hadn’t talked to in over 20 years. There had been a falling out over how their parent’s property was divided at the death of their father. With great anxiety, humility and a flicker of hope, she told her sister that she was sorry, wanted to have her in her life, and asked for her forgiveness. She came back into the room after those ten minutes, tears running down her cheeks, happy reunion results to her cohorts.