It’s interesting to see how different people react to similar situations particularly when the situation involves some kind of setback. Often this relates to the everyday stresses and strains we all get challenged by: missing an important deadline, receiving some difficult feedback, disrupted travel plans. For some it’s an opportunity to moan and get on the bus to ‘pity city’. For others they accept the situation for what it is then work out how to take responsibility for their response.
In Mans search for meaning, Viktor Frankyl explains that “between stimulus and response man has the freedom to choose”. (For those not familiar with Frankyl’s work he was writing about his experience in a German concentration camp during WW2.) I suspect that his experience was somewhat more challenging than the average difficult situation we’re likely to face. How good is your ability to choose your response? Here’s three strategies you could explore in developing this aspect of your performance.
- Look to see the current situation as if looking back in 12 months time. How big a deal is this thing. If it helps, try using a scale of 1 -10 (where 10 is life threatening).
- How does this relate to my values and or bigger life goals?
- What is the real impact and what options have I got to influence it?
Dealing with the here and now:
- What can I do to improve this situation. Of course just to think isn’t enough – you actually need to take action.
- What could I stop doing to improve the situation? This is the inverse of 1). So often it’s the case that people actually make things worse by their action – think about some of the conversations you have with yourself (or Chimp if you’re familiar with the Chimp Paradox). Put another way, is my current thinking or action helping or hindering me.
- Who could I involve to improve things? Don’t just go for the obvious, think imaginatively about this one.
- What could I learn from this that could help me in future? Think transferable.
- What could I do or stop doing to reduce the chances of similar situations happening?
- How could I help others learn from my experience?
I’m not suggesting that you just ‘happy talk’ your way out of situations or that you can eliminate setbacks from your life. Far from it. Setbacks are a part of everyday life which allow us to grow and develop. This is about the three As: Attitude, Approach & Action. Over the next 30 days why not take this area of performance to the next level, even if you choose to focus on one of the above strategies. Let’s go for it and choose a different response.