It all started when a friend was on a cross country road trip. While the Midwestern miles dragged on, he was using the time to connect with friends over the phone. Driving a car without a Bluetooth phone connection, he opted to achieve "hands free" driving by keeping the speaker phone on and setting the phone in his lap. We had been talking for fifteen minutes or so and I was really struggling to hear him well. The speaker was picking up lots of background sound and it made it hard to tune in to what he was sharing. I asked, "Don't you travel with a set of headphones?" The answer was yes. So I continued, "Why don't you plug those into your phone instead of talking through the speaker?" My friend responded, "Aaaahhh, great idea, why didn't I think of that?!" He grabbed the headphones, plugged them in and suddenly we had clarity. We laughed for a few minutes about how he had been traveling for nearly two full days, talking via the speaker (or not talking because of the challenges people had hearing him) and never noticing the solution that was readily available in his bag on the passenger seat.
And it got me thinking...how often are there simple solutions right in front of us that we simply don't notice? How often do we get stuck in a way of thinking or in a pattern of actions that no longer serve us?
In our lives and in our businesses we are confronted with challenges daily and many times we pull together the same group of leaders, the same group friends or family members to find solutions. Often times we end up circling the problem in the same way, seeing the obstacles that have always been there and struggling to find a new approach. Wouldn't it be great if we had a navigation system that automatically reviewed the information, presented various alternatives and also indicated how long it would take to move forward depending on the option we chose? Maybe someday.
In the meantime, here are some options to consider that might help you find a new way out of an old problem:
- Invite someone new into the conversation. Just one new voice might shine a light on an area or solution you hadn't previously considered.
- Read something. When I'm feeling particularly stuck I often find that the right book or article on the topic can help me broaden my perspective.
- Get quiet. There is a voice inside each of us that is pretty darn smart. Create some space in your day or week to hear what that wise voice has to say.
- Refuse to talk about the obstacles. Try a "yes, and" brainstorming session where everyone is building on solutions rather than immediately listing reasons why something won't work. YES, you'll come up with some wildly outrageous ideas using this approach AND some of them might actually work!
- Look for the headphones. Sometimes we just need to stop overcomplicating things and be open to the easy (almost too obvious) answers that are right in front of us.
The more coaching I do, the more I see clients that have been sitting with the same set of problems for a long time. I love when our work together opens up new perspectives or a reframing of a situation, creating possibility from what felt previously unmovable. I love that the path that seems unclear when we begin can reveal itself in unexpected ways. Try something new today and see what unfolds for you.