What you focus on GROWS

What you focus on GROWS. If you focus on problems, you will have more problems; if you focus on solutions, you will get more solutions… You can choose, indeed. How liberating!

Another liberating technique is that instead of reverting to Nice Talk (avoiding conflict) or Tough Talk (being confrontational) we can rather go for Dialogue (listen to understand and then work together towards solutions) for great win-win outcomes.

A few years ago, I was consulting for a retail company. The CEO (Chief Executive Officer) and the FD (Financial Director), both strong leaders, could not see eye to eye. They had a total disconnect and huge frustrations which drained their energy. In essence, the CEO’s view was that the FD was blocking his strategic and growth initiatives, and that he was also too slow in presenting him with up-to-date financial information. And he felt that through his actions he was undermining the company’s growth. In turn, the FD was of opinion that the CEO was unilaterally taking dangerous risks outside the board’s mandate, and gave permission to departments for extra ad hoc expenditure that’s outside the budget and without checking with him as the FD. They started to give examples, and I could see how they “yes but” each other in their minds. There was also references made to strategy, compliance, legalities, and corporate governance.

I felt a bit overwhelmed by the severity and technicality of the conversation and did not understand some of the jargon they used, but I reminded myself that I am not there to understand, analyse or find answers to all the problems. I am there to help them to find a constructive way going forward in order to benefit the company.

So, I stopped them. I requested them to (literally) swop chairs and explain the essence of what the other person’s perspective and feelings are. (That’s a Listening Dialogue technique.) After that they moved back to their original chairs. Then I urged them: “let’s make a list of solutions”. The focus shifted away from their frustrations with each other to what the company needed from them collectively. And the energy in the room changed from blaming to creativity and collaboration. We ended by prioritising 3 solutions or action steps, which included a weekly check-in and coffee session. And suddenly there was relief and hope. They were shaking hands in a far more friendly way at the end of the meeting.

I have seen the same thing happening in coaching with individuals and teams. As soon as they make the switch from problem-focus to solution-focus, and agree on positive action steps, the atmosphere become lighter and more hopeful.

The reason is that your brain follows your instruction. If you instruct your subconscious mind to search for problems it does so, and also secretes the hormones that accompany a fight, flight, freeze reaction in survival mode. And all it can think of is ways to “Get Away from” the problem and it’s complexities. Quite the opposite happens when you open up your brain and emotions to find opportunities and possibilities. And then it thinks of solutions to “Move Towards”. You feel far more energised and become creative. And eventually you move away from paralysing complexity to empowering simplicity.

May you make the shift and give your brain the right instruction to operate in a more solution focused manner. You will then discover the availability and blessing of more solutions coming to you, and also enjoy the privilege and benefits of living a more fruitful and happier life.