We have a bizarre capacity to pedal faster when something isn’t working. We think if we try harder the problem will magically disappear.
Trying harder works for people who aren’t really trying.
More of the same produces more of the same.
When pedaling faster doesn’t work:
#1. Solve the right problem.
The things you think are problems are often symptoms. Falling short of a goal is a symptom, not the problem.
Stop obsessing over symptoms.
#2. Define problems in terms of behaviors.
Any problem you define in terms of behaviors can be solved. Two questions enable problem definition.
- What are people doing to cause this situation?
- What are people leaving undone to cause this situation?
#3. Notice recurring frustration.
Recurring problems are like walking in circles in the woods. You don’t stop walking in circles until you notice you’re walking in circles.
Frustration that you’ve been here before is your opportunity to change direction.
Frustration is the beginning of hope.
#4. Look for simple solution.
I had a snowmobile when I was a teenager. One day I hurried to finish my chores and ran to my snowmobile. But it wouldn’t start.
I checked the gas, turned the choke on and off, and pulled till I was sweaty and furious. I checked the sparkplug. It was firing. Things changed when I noticed the key was in the off position!
What’s the simplest thing you might try?
#5. Try something else.
An aspirin cured your headache but it won’t fix bad breath.
Over-relying on past solutions is Kaplan’s Law of the Instrument: “Give a boy a hammer and everything he meets has to be pounded.” QI
- How long have we been doing the same thing while expecting different results?
- What else might we try?
Which of the above suggestions speaks to you?
How might leaders deal with destructive patterns?