It’s all in your head-but that doesn’t make it easy

“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”
~ Kahlil Gibran

This past week I was struck by the similarities between an article in Business Week, and a blog post on FastCompany’s design site (Co.Design).  While they do talk about slightly different subjects, I felt the intersection of the two was very interesting.

The Business Week article was written by Joseph Grenny who is one of the authors of the Crucial Conversations book and materials (and a bunch of other great materials, too).  The point of his article is that it is much more productive to work on changing ourselves and how we view the world around us rather than waiting for the world to change to suit our needs–because the world isn’t likely to change any time soon.

The blog post discusses why it is easier to keep using loosing strategies than it is to learn from our mistakes and change direction.   According to Tim Harford (the author), it is often because choosing a new strategy would be viewed as “crystallizing” the fact that we’ve made a mistake.

To me, the synthesis of both writings is that when things are not going well for us, we need to take a step back and ask ourselves “What am I saying, doing, or thinking that is contributing to this bad situation or keeping me in it?”  Once we have that information, we then need to decide what changes we can make, right now that can get us moving in a more constructive direction.  However, remembering to ask these questions and then putting the resulting answers into action will not be easy. Some of us are wired in ways that make it very difficult.

But, even if you forget to take these steps during a crisis, all is not lost.  There is still a great deal to be learned by reviewing past situations that turned out badly and answering those same questions after things have already occurred.  The learning is still valid, and likely you will find repeated patterns of ways you are making things worse for yourself.  Once you’ve identified them, you’ve already made significant progress in being able to influence your way to a happier and more fulfilling situation.  All that remains is to work to catch yourself during the situation rather than after it.

Call to action:

1. Read both the article and the blog post.  In the comments section, please let me know  whether you agree or disagree with my interpretations.

2. For a week, keep a journal of times when you became emotional about results that didn’t go as you felt they should have gone.  Review the situations and come up with at least one way you made the situation worse by your attitude or actions.  Then look for at least one way you could have changed your outlook or strategy to improve the situation. Then, at your earliest convenience, put that idea into action.

I’d love to hear how it goes.

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