It’s All in Your Head

There are always problems that must be solved, and the decisions we make when facing problems are the direct result of the state of mind we have going into them. I have found that when working with individuals it is easy to get hung up on the “why”:

·      Why did I do that?
·      Why did they do that?
·      Why didn’t they listen?
·      Why didn’t I take their advice?

This kind of thinking rarely brings a solution. In fact, it can be downright counterproductive; it siphons energy and shifts the focus on the past.

True, it is extremely important to learn from the past, but I have found that individuals can overcome problems much more effectively when the attention is focused on the present and future. One of the ways to do this is by focusing on the “hows” and “whats” of the issue:

·      What can I learn?
·      What would I do differently next time?
·      What’s possible now?
·      How can I move forward from here?
·      How can I apply what I’ve learned?

These questions are better designed to keep minds where they need to be: What is? or What will be?

The only thing the past has to offer us now is a chance to learn from it. The present and the future, on the other hand, have so much more. Therefore, try to not waste time beating yourself up about what has already happened. Shift focus on what is still to come. For many of us, this requires a change in mindset and asking the appropriate questions of ourselves can help create that change.

Change Through Agility

 

In the fast-paced complex business world we operate, the adage of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” rarely applies, for leaders must now be more proactive than the old saying implies. However, finding the appropriate blend of adopting new practices and keeping old ones can be a delicate tapdance.

As leaders, our ability to be agile is irreplaceable. We are ultimately the ones making the decisions and if those decisions wind up being costly, we are responsible for correcting the ship. Even though it may be our responsibility, we can employ the help of our workforce by fostering an agile work environment.

With the high rate at which change is thrown at businesses, it is no longer enough for a few top-level leaders to posses the agility trait; leaders need to build agile teams, organizations and even customers. Leaders must create an environment in which adaptability is valued. Working to accommodate change has to be swift, or our competition will bury us. If implementing a new solution or strategy is met by enormous pushback–from our employees, our partners or our customers–our businesses will sacrifice valuable time and energy as leaders struggle to convince everyone involved that the action is appropriate.

To structure an agile environment, we must attach value on individuals being able to step outside of their comfort zones. Then, when we make a decision to implement a new solution to accommodate change, our teams are positioned to be less reluctant when asked to divert from how they’ve operated in the past.

We can encourage our teams to be more adaptable by expressing that we value continuous learning. By doing so, we are encouraging our teams to keep up-to-date on new business methodologies and better develop their core competencies. Without this focus on learning, we allow our teams to become comfortable in their norms and stringent when asked to step outside of them.

It’s our responsibility to promote agility. After all, because the business landscape is always changing, the teams and organizations that are better positioned to adapt to that change have an extreme competitive advantage. Consequently, the organizations that allow their teams to become comfortable in “the way it’s always been done” will remain flat-footed as the competition speeds by in this high-paced, constantly changing business environment.

Busy ≠ Productive

Ever have a busy day in which you feel like you accomplished nothing? Sometimes, it seems like no matter how well organized you are, something always pops up and jolts you out of focus. Days like that are simply unavoidable; the quick and dirty trick is understanding how to best maximize every day, even the difficult ones.

I believe Henry David Thoreau said it best:

                   “It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants.

                                         The question is: What are we busy about?”

Having a productive day starts with developing the right mindset the moment we get out of bed. Instead of asking, “What do I have to do today?” a much more beneficial question can be, “What do I want to be actively and attentively engaged in today?”

Being busy simply is not enough, but by becoming actively engaged in projects we will likely find that we become more focused each day. This allows us to make better decisions, being able to weigh the options more fluidly. We are also then able to make time for the things that are the most important–the stuff that really matters. The result is much richer days, ones that allow us to go home feeling a sense of accomplishment each evening.

No matter what curve balls a day hits us with, it is important to regroup. Coming at challenges with the right attitude changes the game entirely. Weighing out our priorities each day allows us to give them our fullest attention. We can’t let things like a flat tire on our way to work, or the Dodgers blowing their chance at the playoffs get in the way of our productivity. By staying actively and attentively engaged with the projects we know require our attention now, makes for much more effective days. Besides, there’s a spare tire in the trunk, and there’s always next season.