Many of us – and perhaps especially those of us in leadership roles – can be very quick to look externally when things don’t go to plan or miss expectation. To somehow exclude ourselves from the post-mortem.
And we can be doubly-guilty of this external focus bias when those circumstances leave within us uncomfortably negative feelings.
But more than we care to admit, we are responsible for the reality we create.
And as for the uncomfortable feelings that result – well, that’s ALL us. Because it’s not the thing itself that upsets us, but the thoughts, beliefs and stories we attach to the thing.
As long as we think the problem is out there, the situation is going to be beyond us.
Challenging our view of the world
To take back control:
- Notice the story you’re telling yourself and ask: “Is It True?”
- And then: look for the “turnaround”.
The turnaround is something I love to have my private clients challenge themselves with. It’s about taking our judgement and turning it on its head. Statements become their opposite. Statements about others become statements about ourselves. Statements that are external in focus become internal in focus.
Here are a few examples.
Notice what the turnarounds do for the person thinking the thought.
She doesn’t trust me.
- She does trust me (but I choose not to see it).
- I don’t trust her (but won’t admit it).
- I don’t trust myself (engendering mistrust from others).
He should have done a better job.
- I could have done a better job (supporting and delegating).
- He couldn’t have done a better job (with the tools and direction given).
They are not prepared to make the change.
- They are prepared to make the change (but in a different way).
- I am not prepared to make the change (but care not to admit it).
My team should respect me more.
- I could respect my team more (and lead by example).
- My team shouldn’t respect me (until I earn it).
- I will respect myself more (engendering respect from others).
They should have promoted me.
- They shouldn’t have promoted me (because honestly, I’m not ready yet).
- I could have promoted myself (and acted up to my target role).
My team failed to meet to my expectations.
- My team met my expectations (as set by me).
- I failed to meet my team’s expectations (with poor delegation).
- I failed to meet my expectations (and the standards I set for myself).
The power of the turnaround
Finding the turnaround is not about apportioning blame. It’s about noticing that what we see on the outside is more-often-than-not a projection of our own thinking.
Notice, in any of the above examples that might resonate with you, how the turnaround is as true (if not truer!) than the original thought.
Notice also that the turnaround restores me to two useful states:
- Self-awareness, leading to options and choices.
- Accountability, reclaiming my responsibility and influence.
With these useful states, we ultimately achieve the result. And as a special bonus, with far less of the uncomfortable feelings that accompanied the original thought.
So from here: make it your habit to challenge your stories and look for the turnaround – in any way you care to, until self-realisation results.