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Solution Saturday: Avoid Less – Take Initiative More

The issues you avoid morph into future-crushing gremlins.

A surprising suggestion:

I suggested a negative project to a coaching client who wants to take initiative when issues are stressful.

I prefer projects that elicit positive energy, but for the first time, I suggested an Avoidance Journal.

Two weeks later we debriefed.


Journaling is noticing. Noticing precedes change.

  1. Notice it to track it. You may not see your own progress unless you track it.
  2. Notice it to stop it. Habits are unnoticed behaviors that continue until you notice them.
  3. Notice it to improve it. The act of noticing makes a positive difference.


#1. Noticing avoidance encouraged him to take initiative.

The journaling project was only about noticing. What’s the situation? How do you feel? When are you avoiding? It wasn’t about change. But he changed.

He said that he knew I was going to ask him about avoiding so it seemed easier to take initiative.

The act of noticing combined with accountability produced change. I wasn’t going to ask if he improved. I planned to ask two questions.

Coaches observation: Passion for growth needs clarity, support, and encouragement, not harassment.  

#2. Noticing avoidance brought clarity and simplicity.

He noticed there were two basic things he avoided. One was small and the other stressful.

He indicated that it was encouraging to see the issue of avoidance wasn’t as big as it used to be.

Progress energizes people – if it’s noticed.

Coaching tips:

  1. Provide opportunity for people to notice themselves and their impact on others. Journaling is noticing.
  2. Don’t fix people.
  3. Factors of growth include clarity, focus, support, and encouragement, not harassment.
  4. Accountability is voluntary.

Successful leaders bring forward-facing curiosity to issues other leaders avoid.

What do leaders avoid?

How might leaders develop initiative even when issues are stressful?


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