What’s required? (Part 1 of 2)

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Brian Kight

Events aren’t the only thing you interpret. You also interpret the possible responses required.

As you interpret the events happening in your life, you interpret what they will require from you. You consider whether you can meet those requirements. You imagine what that experience would be like and what the impact would be.

You ask yourself: “Based on how I interpret these events and the meaning I’ve assigned them, what’s required of me?” You don’t say it like that, but that’s what your mind calculates.

For example, imagine you observe a leader in your organization. Some of his decisions create distraction and confusion but not enough value. You interpret these decisions as impulsive and unnecessary. You see the leader as disconnected and lacking awareness. You believe these decisions by the leader disrupt your organization’s ability to execute. That’s the meaning you assign. It damages the leader’s credibility and undermines people’s confidence in his directives.

What requirements does this put on you? What responses do you consider? How do you feel about each option? Why do you gravitate away from certain responses and toward others? How do you decide how to respond?

Your interpretation of the situation leads you to interpret possible responses and requirements. You assign meaning to those requirements. The meaning you assign determines how you feel about performing the task. This is when you decide whether you’re willing or unwilling to do what’s required.

Back to our example. Consider your main options for how to respond (not addressing detailed nuances):

  • Tell the leader what you’ve observed and its impact.
  • Tell him part of the truth to raise his awareness, but hold back the whole truth of what you see. 
  • Try to nudge him to change without telling him the truth.
  • Work around the leader’s misguided decisions and do your best to be effective.
  • Blame the leader and complain with other people in the organization. No one addresses the leader or the issue.
  • Ignore the misguided decisions this leader makes.
  • Change teams or leave the organization.

When you think about actually doing any of those options, each one feels different. You consider not only its chance of success but also your comfort with it and ability to do it well.

Can you recognize the tension it creates?

There’s a conflict of priorities. One part of you considers the requirements to produce the best outcome. Another part of you considers what you’re comfortable with and willing to do. That creates a tension within you that you can only settle by making a decision.

When success and comfort come into conflict, you resolve it by making one of two decisions:

  1. Do what’s required to produce the desired result even though parts of it are uncomfortable.
  2. Do what’s comfortable even though it doesn’t produce the desired result.

When you feel comfortable doing what’s required, there’s no tension. The decision is easy. But when you feel uncomfortable doing what’s needed, there’s tension. You have a new decision:

Do what’s required or what feels comfortable for you?

Come back tomorrow for Part 2 . . .


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