How to Rise Above Problem-Based Thinking

Good days turn bad quickly.

Eight hours of good performance are ruined by five minutes of tension with a colleague. Everything in your day went well, but you have a bad experience – at the end of your day. Now it’s a bad day.

Consumed:

You can’t get screw ups off your mind.

A team member performs well for three months and screws up the day before their performance evaluation. What’s the topic of conversation?

The recency bias gives more weight to yesterday’s bad experience than a month’s worth of good experiences. No wonder you’re unhappy with people, bosses, and organizations.

Bad experiences are stickier and more impactful than good.

Anxiety peeks around the corner looking for the next problem or difficulty. Stress in your gut concerns what might happen.

It’s likely you’re an expert at looking for bad and a novice at looking for good.

Awake and active:

Don’t fall asleep at the wheel.

Successful leaders anticipate surprises, problems, and challenges. Scan the horizon for storms. It doesn’t help to batten the hatches after the boat fills with water.

Lousy leaders ANTICIPATE storms. Successful leaders ANTICIPATE and ACT.

It’s not anticipating, but acting, that leads to success. Don’t simply think about what might go wrong – prepare.

Stress is the consequence of anticipating a problem but doing nothing about it.

You worry that a talented person might leave your team.

You’re stressed that a great customer might go to your competitor.

You’re concerned about the schedule for a project.

A team member is falling short.

The real question:

The real question isn’t IF problems are brewing. The real question is, “What will you do about that?”

  1. Get curious.
  2. Make phone calls.
  3. Prioritize. What’s the likelihood that the hurricane you’re stressed over is going to happen?
  4. Change something.

How might leaders anticipate bad and still remain positive leaders?

Suggested reading: When, by Daniel Pink