Are you Riding a Dead Horse?
By Russell Hunter
Most of like feeling on top of things - having clear plans to execute on what matters most day to day.
But sooner or later, wham! we feel like we're in a kayak hurtling through white water. Markets change, budgets freeze, priorities shift, organizations re-organize. Resisting it only makes the problem worse. Water is whirling and crashing in all directions, spray is stinging our eyes. It all seems to be spinning out of control in our brain, and soon we wind up unsure of what stroke to make next, which direction to go.
Where do you focus when it all seems out of control?
What doesn't work is over thinking what we should do. In sports, this is often referred to as the chokers profile. Thoughts become very inward focused, instead of outward on what is happening around us. We miss information, miss opportunities. We focus on survival vs. opportunity - freeze up, unsure where to take action next, too concerned about making a mistake.
We often hold on to our original plans too rigidly - seeking to gain a sense control, however illusory. During times of economic crisis, this is especially true.
On the wall of my home office is a document entitled, "What to Do if You're Riding a Dead Horse: The Top Ten List" The list includes:
Of course, the correct answer to the question is "dismount".
- Buy a stronger whip.
- Change riders.
- Declare, "This is the way we have always ridden this horse."
- Appoint a team to revive the dead horse.
- Ignore the dead horse...What dead horse?
- Creating a training session to improve your riding skills.
- Outsource contractors to ride the dead horse.
- Appoint a committee to study the dead horse.
- Arrange to visit other sites to see how they ride dead horses.
- Harness several dead horses together for increased speed.
As odd as it sounds, our brain often loves to stick to a plan, or an idea, a habit, even when it isn't serving us well any more. This is what psychologists refer to as the "falacy of predetermination." The truth is, while you can set out an innovative plan, we are not in control of what happens next. We have to adapt.
So what dead horses are you riding right now? What project needs to be reconsidered in light of the changing economy? What assumptions about a relationship need to be let go of? What path needs to be abandoned in order to open up a new set of opportunities?
The good news is that individuals who are able to adpat in today's challenging economy are able to see opportunities many of us are blind to. In every recession some people choose to focus on opportunity vs survival. You can be one of them.
TAKING ACTION THIS MONTH:
Where are you stuck right now? What assumptions might you be making about why you are stuck? What opportunities would open up if you shifted your energy in a new direction?
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