The Client-centred Blog

Getting out of your own way

I was recently in conversation with a client and he said to me that the next month at work was going to be difficult.

So, I asked him why he thought that and he explained that several staff were due to be away on training and this was going to create all sorts of problems in delivering a quality service to clients.

We all have our own thoughts of why life is going to be difficult at certain times, right?

As above, it might be a particular situation. It could be an upcoming ‘difficult’ conversation or an aspect of our business that we do not like.

Where do you tend to get in your own way?

I know when a problem weighs on me it is when I enjoy life the least and at my least effective.

Yet in every problem or difficult situation there also nests an opportunity for growth.

My response to my client was to ask him to state the pure facts of the situation.

A couple of times he repeated that staff were going to be away and as a result things were going to be difficult.

But I continued to ask for the pure facts and those only.

Finally, the penny dropped, and he had a big insight.

He realised that the pure facts were that several staff were going to be away on training. The ‘difficult’ part was a story he was making up in his own mind.

When we associate difficulty to external causes in our lives it results in two things:

  1. Discouragement
    When we get discouraged our energy drops, we lose our enthusiasm and can easily get caught up in a blame game.

2. We get preoccupied with the ‘difficulty’ 

When a problem weighs on us, we lose sight of the bigger picture because it feels personal and we try to think our way out of it.  

As soon as he realised that he was the one creating this ‘difficult’ story he dropped it and immediately began to get a flood of new ideas.

He saw that here was an opportunity to bring out the creativity in his team. Instead of a threat they saw it as an opportunity to communicate with clients about the situation and strengthen relationships as a result. The energy changed completely. 

Getting out of your own way

A couple of years ago I interviewed Robin Charbit, founder of Insight Principles. 

Robin and his colleagues help Fortune 100 companies solve seemingly intractable problems. These are problems costing the companies 10’s, even 100’s of millions of dollars in lost or unrealised revenue.  

In talking about problem solving he used the analogy of cooking a turkey in an oven. 

You set the oven to the right temperature and enter the cooking time, you put the turkey in, and the equipment is left to do its job.

What you do not need to do stand by the oven and keep opening the door to see if the turkey is cooking. In fact, this would interfere with the process. 

Yet when faced with a problem how often do we do the equivalent of keep checking the oven?

People often spend enormous amounts of time thinking about their perceived problems and difficulties.  

Yet just as you do not need to keep opening the oven door to see if the turkey is cooking you do not need to keep thinking about problems to solve them. Doing so is counter-productive because the more thought you use trying find an answer, the less likely you are to solve it.

The nature of the human mind is that it will give you the thinking that you need when you allow it to operate without interference.  

Once you see that all problems are made of thought rather than existing out there in the world it becomes far easier to allow the thinking to pass rather than reacting to it.  

This is how you get out of you own way and it is a game-changer.

P.S. Linda Pransky talks very eloquently about this subject in this short video (6m 26s). Click here.

John Dashfield

John Dashfield spent 14 years as a self-employed adviser. Since 2006 he has been a coach, mentor and author helping advisers create transformations in their business and personal lives.