Coaching the Easter Bunny – when help hurts


EBA Client’s Story
(With Permission)

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

I usually use pseudonyms in my client examples to protect client confidentiality.  When I DO use a real name, it is always with client permission — the Bunny himself has vetted this post.

How it happened

The Easter Bunny was one of my first clients, way back when coaching itself was a budding profession. (Oh, you’re a coach.  What sport?) 

This was before I founded The Optimal Functioning Institute™ — even before I began taking registrations for the first group to go through the A.C.T. program, the ADD-specific coaching curriculum I designed that launched the the entire ADD Coaching field.

At that time I was one of the very few coaches on the planet at all, and one of the fewer still who understood how to work with ADD.  So that’s the reason the Easter Bunny found his way to me. Now you might assume from that explanation that EB, as he is known to his friends, hired me to help with his own struggles with ADD

Seriously, a bunny delivering baskets of colored, hard-boiled eggs? YEARLY!? To every kid in America? One would suspect AD“H”D.

But one would be wrong.

He came for Mentor Coaching, hoping to learn how to help someone else — his business partner and very best friend in the whole wide world (who has ADD, possibly with anxiety comorbid).

BECAUSE his very best friend was no longer speaking to him — due to an incident that could have been avoided if EB had only come to me sooner.

He agreed to full disclosure of his story so that none of you would make the same mistake with someone you love (because that’s just the kind of hare he is).

A Strange Duo

It’s essential that you understand from the start that EB’s best friend is a real chicken.  No, really – a chicken (like the kind that lay eggs, right?)

In fact, the whole colored egg thing was his best friend’s idea to begin with.  He needed EB’s help since most of the chickens he knew were armless types, and the whole idea just took off from there.

Eventually it became a Big Magilla production — with an entire fleet of bunnies collecting eggs, hard-boiling eggs, coloring eggs, putting eggs and grass in baskets, and helping with deliveries.  (I mean, they’re EGGS, right?  They go bad — it’s not like they could stockpile.)

Another interesting fact you may not know is that Big Magilla was the very first company on the planet that was completely integrated. They have actively recruited both chickens and bunnies since inception, male and female, young and old — regardless of breeding, color or markings.

Where gender equality is concerned the bunny brigade has a pristine record but, for obvious reasons, the chicken cadre is primarily female — not really discriminatory since the ability to lay is what they call an essential job skill.

They employ the elderly, handicapped and mentally impaired mostly in the basket department – which has turned out to be a wonderful idea.  Some of the most talented and industrious basket weavers in America work for Magilla.

The kids are interns – grass cultivation and packaging mostly.

All things considered, it is a very forward-thinking business model.  But when one of the founding partners isn’t speaking to the other, that’s a crisis that needs a turn-around coach.

That’s when EB found an early Trainer-Team listing on the CoachU website and decided to hire me.

Be sure to checkout the sidebar for how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

A BIT More Background

Most people would launch immediately into the coaching story but I want you to be able to understand what a HUGE concern this was for EB and, well, because I’m me – not known for the short post.  So here it is.

EB and Chick have been best friends since childhood (LONG before my time by the way), when they became bosom buddies practically immediately.  Because Chick was so little, EB had always felt the need to look after his friend, especially considering the manner in which they became the dynamic duo.

They became aware of each other originally when Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail refused to befriend either one of them – even instigating an incident where their group of friends banded together to chase them out of McGreggar’s farm-patch. Bullying is rarely pretty.

There aren’t usually any up-sides to bully-behavior, but that was the day the friendship really took off.

Outliers have a lot in common.

They quickly discovered that neither of them was interested in revenge, especially since Peter had stepped up to rescue them from the worst of that tar and feathering incident.

As is common in the neurodiversity community, they were survivors. While they weren’t big on turning the other cheek exactly, they each wanted to use the pain of their own experience to lighten the burdens of others.  

EB and Chick went through a lot together and, before the episode that brought EB to coaching, spoke to each other more often than Oprah and Gail.  They were tight.

Rooster_gunAnd then it happened – the incident that led to Chick’s egg coloring idea, and the eventual formation of Big Magilla.

The heinous actions of an unusually aggressive band of marauding roosters led to an increase in the number of baby chicks born one particular spring, which created the egg-glut that followed one year later.

It was awful! Like summer zucchini, you couldn’t GIVE the darned things away. Egg prices plummeted, and formerly prosperous hens were now scrambling to make ends meet.

The stench of rotten eggs filled the air – nobody could sleep anymore for the smell. Nausea and vomiting were endemic, and everyone else they knew was ready to give up eggs for good, they were so sick of them.

Chick, who by then was about to graduate from a prestigious marketing program, had the idea that his mother and her friends might be able to expand into new markets if the eggs had what is referred to as a USP – what the business coaches call a unique selling proposition. Enter the idea of COLORED eggs!

But things didn’t exactly go as planned.

  • Market research turned up big problems. They learned that most people throw the the shells away, so few people cared what color they were.  In addition, most of them turned out to be suspicious of “those new-fangled eggs!”
  • It seems that dyeing raw eggs was problematic in its own way, and there just wasn’t that much call for hard-boiled eggs of ANY color in the spring, deviled eggs being a summer delicacy.  It would have been an uphill battle.
  • Chick’s next idea was stolen directly from the diamond industry, which he had researched extensively for a paper for one of his B-School professors. (A+, by the way).  One could increase demand by limiting supply (with the addition of a subtle but effective advertising campaign built around the creation of an impression that everybody had to have one).

So that’s when the idea of delivering free baskets of colored hard-boiled eggs to children was born, reducing the supply of raw white ones enough to return things to what they were before the marauding.

It worked as planned, but the next year the increased number of chicks had chicks of their own, and there were even MORE eggs to be disposed of.  The problem got bigger every year.

The little company that could

After McGregger and McDonald, two of their biggest supporters, helped them secure that grant from the Farm Bureau, it was decided that EB would become the face of the new advertising campaign they could now afford. Taking advantage of the proximity of the timing of an upcoming holiday to the yearly egg-glut, they created wide-scale demand for a visit from the Easter Bunny – which became my client’s name until he shortened it to EB.

Like any start-up, by working around the clock with a skeleton crew of employees and the aid of a great many volunteers, they somehow managed to keep their new non-profit going for quite a few years.

Three Small Pigs stepped in to make sure that their brick-and-mortar needs were handled. Practically everybody spent much of the off-season writing grant proposals, since the fate of an entire industry depended on the success of this fledgling company.  But drop-out rates were high – exhaustion, you know.

Just when they reached their five-year mark and thought they were going to have to close their doors, Cousin Bugs convinced his employer (the founder of a company that produced a large number of unusually popular films) that it would be excellent PR to fund the entire venture. And the rest is history.

AND NOW, the whole Magilla was about to fall apart because Chick wasn’t speaking to EB and people were taking sides.

So you see, it was A BIG DEAL!

SO here’s what happened that caused the rift

CoolChickNow you have to understand that Chick was always a bit of a worrier, and that he has, shall we say, a lightening quick ADD startle response.

But he was BORN hip, unbelievably imaginative, and he was always cool in his own sort of rocker Chick way.

Always, that is, until the day he staggered into work with a huge knot on his head.

Something fell out of the sky and knocked him for a loop! Sitting with an icepack tied to his noggin, his agitation seemed to increase by the minute.

Periodically he would venture outside, eyes straining upwards, trying to figure out what happened to him. Seeing nothing to explain things to his satisfaction, he began to worry that perhaps the sky itself was falling.

At the thought of that possibility, he began pacing frantically, muttering agitatedly that they all would be doomed if the rest of the sky fell in, disturbing the bunnies in the egg-dyeing plant greatly.

Convinced that Chick was still a bit dazed from whatever it was that happened (and hoping to avoid widespread panic), EB did his best to try to get the little chicken to calm down.

  • He used logic and quoted scientific facts.
  • He tried neckrubs, footrubs, lavender oil, hemi-sync, EFT – anything that anybody suggested might work.
  • But every touch seemed to make things worse. (When you’re done here, check out ABOUT Boggle for why)

Chick seemed to be escalating by the second!

Suddenly he jumped up angrily, screaming repeatedly at the very top of his lungs,
“NOT ONLY IS THE SKY FALLING, THIS IDIOT DOESN’T GET IT!”
Then he scrambled out of the plant in a total, frantic melt-down.

Things got worse from there

ChickLookingUpLike a deranged Paul Revere, Chick went from door to door, taking it upon himself to warn everyone he knew (and more than a few he didn’t).  Everybody knew who Chick was, however, and you can imagine that his behavior was NOT particularly good for business.

Since EB was concerned about that unfortunate reality — and sincerely worried that his dear friend was suffering from some type of traumatic brain injury — he tried his best to get Chick to see a TBI or PTSD professional.

  • And THAT is when Chick stopped speaking to EB entirely
  • So that’s when EB hired me, suspecting that maybe Chick’s ADD had something to do with his over-the-top anxiety.  And of course it did.

Adding invalidation to injury

Unfortunately, I had to tell my brand new celebrity client that he was at least partly responsible for his best friend’s meltdown – which the ADD Coaching field generally refers to as Boggle. EB had inadvertently done exactly the wrong thing in his attempt to calm him down.

The more he urged Chick to give up his point of view, the less Chick was willing or able to do so.

This is what I had to explain to EB

In Chick’s mind, the entire scenario played out very differently than it did for you, EB.  I know you had only the best intentions, but you had the wrong come-from. You invalidated him.

When somebody is in the throes of anxiety and overwhelm, you have to meet them where they ARE before you can accompany them to a more centered place.

Chick kept trying to explain WHY he felt everyone was in danger, and you countered every utterance with something that sounded like he was crazy to feel that way.

Then he felt compelled to say even more, hoping you would understand — as you continued to argue for the more rational point of view.

  • He took your every comment as evidence that you most certainly did NOT understand, so he presented still more “evidence of danger,” getting you both more deeply entrenched in this unproductive cycle.
  • To be able to access his own resources to recenter, your friend desperately needed validation of his feelings first (some version of I don’t blame you for feeling agitated, I might too if I had a lump the size of yours on MY head,”) WITHOUT the Now, let’s recenter part.
  • You had to give him space to think and time to recenter on his own.  He probably felt ambushed. The more you pushed, the more he pushed back.
  • With a bit of validation, empathy, and time, Chick would have calmed down enough to get himself where you wanted him to go — what you resist persists.

With only the BEST of intentions, your attempts to help hurt.

Mending the Rift

EB took the coaching.  The first thing on his agenda was to leave a message on Chick’s answering machine apologizing to his dear friend for not appreciating the gravity of the situation. He assured him that he would be available to listen to the latest developments if Chick would be so kind as to call him back.

Be sure to come back for Part Two of this article if you want to hear how they turned everything around and learn a few skills and techniques from The ADD Coaching Playbook™.

But don’t worry — this Easter, the Bunny will be making his rounds as always.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I almost forgot, EB asked me to tell you that he hopes that EVERYONE will like, share, and reblog this story before Easter is too far away in everybody’s rear view mirror.
He needs YOU to help him spread the word – so that nobody else makes his mistake.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

2 Responses to Coaching the Easter Bunny – when help hurts

  1. I really enjoyed reading this! It is amusing and really well explained. Thank you for pointing it out 🙂 I like the chick and bunny’s parts in the ‘story’.

    That must have been VERY hard for your client to have to handle, knowing that he led or egged (see what I did there) on their friends aliments. “The more he urged Chick to give up his point of view, the less Chick was willing or able to do so.” It is a hard situation, complex with lots of layers.

    They are lucky to have found you!! 🙂

    The wise words I am taking me after this: “When somebody is in the throes of anxiety and overwhelm, you have to meet them where they ARE before you can accompany them to a more centered place.” Really like that, makes a lot of sense. Also something I don’t think people would really think to try, usually looking for a ‘quick fix’ instead.

    Louise x x

    Like

    • I can’t BELIEVE you found time to read this already, much less leave a comment. Are you even unpacked yet?

      And you got THE point of the entire article (so far). It’s what a lot of self-help advice neglects, IMHO (and why talk therapy works).

      NOBODY (sane) wants people jumping in to *fix* a problem until they understand all of the parameters of the problem.

      And how can they believe you understand if you cut them off every time they try to explain?

      THEN, when the person with the problem attempts to reply to your suggestion with an explanation of why they think it won’t work, they get accused of being negative,(or playing “yes, but” because they are “attached to their problem”)

      NO WONDER so many of us become intractably depressed! It’s hard to feel hopeful when nobody will even take you seriously enough to take the time to listen to you — and the return of hope is step one on the recovery road.

      More in part 2. THANKS for reading, and for your comment.

      xx,
      mgh

      Like

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