Identify it, define it, examine it, analyze it, seek solutions?
I want to ask you to try something NEW.
Don’t solve your problems.
Recently, while conducting a workshop, I sat at a table with a group of intelligent leaders who were tackling a problem. As the trainer, it was my job to keep the group engaged in critical and strategic thinking.
But this group was stuck—stuck in their ideas, discussion, dialogue, and conversation. We were approaching the 45-minute mark, and they were just going around in circles.
I said, “Everyone, let’s stop this discussion. We’re taking a break. Put down your pens, leave your phones, and let’s get out of here.”
I had prepared by bringing some sports equipment. Excited as kids at a chance to play outside, they were quickly caught up in a rousing game of wiffle ball.
By the time I called them back in a short time later, everyone was relaxed and enjoying themselves. Even before they had a chance to sit down, I asked, “How do we tackle this issue? What do we do next?”
And it all came together. They had a direction, and they were all in agreement.
This is not news for anyone who has done coaching or consulting with teams. Taking a break is good science.
So the next time you have a thorny problem:
- Don’t tackle it.
- Don’t keep identifying it.
- Don’t examine it to death.
- Don’t keep coming up with strategies.
- Don’t keep gathering information.
Take a break and allow your mind to rest. Find something to do. Distract yourself.
When you come back you will see your problems and issues with fresh eyes. In just a few minutes, you can reach new breakthroughs, new reactions, new ways of looking at things. Allow your conscious mind to relax and you will find a better, faster, smarter way to approach your problem.
Now imagine the increase in problem solving that could occur if your team, or your whole organization, started to apply this principle.
There are so many things we have misunderstood about the mind.
As someone who believes in leading from within, I am a big advocate of letting the mind rest and allowing the heart to speak.
And as someone who is always looking for insight, I suspect that letting go of what we know—of our need to always be solving, analyzing, defining—can lead us to new identifications, new solutions, and new meaning.
Lead from within: The next time you are up against a problem you can’t solve, the next time you feel stuck, let it go and distract yourself.
Painting by: DM