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This is podcast 89 and it’s about finding the real truth. I had a breakthrough with a client yesterday. We’ve been talking for months about different storage options. She has a very specific preference, even though it has significant problems. Basically, she wants open shelving instead of cabinets or bins.
But yesterday she suddenly agreed to closed storage. What happened? I asked her some questions and I figured out the answer. Her preference was based solely on reacting to a problem with the current storage, not on what would actually be best. She was still consumed with how ineffective the current system was for her and that made her gravitate toward a system that was the complete opposite in order never to have those problems again.
As I’ve mentioned before, being reactive is not a powerful place to be. It means you’re stuck in the past, or you’re making decisions based on a set of conditions handed to you, rather than envisioning and creating something better. When you are reactive, you respond only to what is currently provoking you instead of the situation as a whole.
I’m not saying it’s not difficult to get stuck here. We react emotionally to things and those reactions can guide our actions without our totally being aware of it. Hence the reason I keep mentioning how important it is to develop your objectivity and your ability to notice what’s really happening.
The questions I asked my client were designed to tease out that thought process so we could be clear about what she really wanted. Turns out, she just wants to find things easily.
Why is this important? My ecourse is based on developing a vision for what you want. That’s how it starts. It’s important because if you don’t know what you want, you’ll have a harder time getting it, and may never get it. You may get something and settle for it and think that’s the best there is. Or, more commonly, you accept the popular or clever or cute solution, or the one that’s on sale. Or, also common, you will give up on trying to fix the problem because none of the options you can see seem like they’ll work.
One way to think of this is to focus on the What and Why, not the How. Stick with what’s happening and why you want something different. Don’t race to the How, which is the solution, because you’re not ready yet.
What my client was doing has a name, I discovered. It’s called problem-based thinking and it’s generally thought of as being pretty ineffective. Problem-based thinking keeps you mired in the unpleasant situation.
Solution-based thinking, on the other hand, frees you to get more positive. First of all, just calling it solution-based thinking lets your mind know that a solution is possible, right? Your on the right track already.
Now, often you have to plow through the muck of the current situation and connect with what you don’t like about it before you can get to thinking about solutions or accurately present the issue to another person. Me, in this case.
Once I understood what was going on, I was able to explain specifically how this alternate system we were talking about would work to give her what she needed and wanted, and also avoid some problems with her initial solution.
It was remarkable how easy the conversation became after that. It was as if she had been battling this problem with all her energy and once she stopped, the tension was gone. She’s now researching potential closed storage candidates.
What you can do now. Think of an issue that’s bothering you a lot, one that you have an emotional reaction to. See if you can step back from it, put the problem down for a bit, and explore whether the problem is really what you think it is, or if something more basic is at the heart of it.