Sometimes when you are stuck, the answer to how to move forward is closer than you think.
Recently whilst working with a team of senior leaders around building personal success, we were having a great conversation regarding mindset. Gerri* asked how to work with the ‘inner critic/negative voice’: They often felt overwhelmed by their inner critic at times of challenging decision making.
The answer to Gerri’s question was closer than they realised.
As a way to help answer Gerri’s question, and offer a larger teaching point, I asked the group two questions:
- ‘Who here has a negative voice/critical voice?’ (everyone put their hand up)
- ‘Who here has a reasonably good self-image?’ (about half the group put their hands up)
The first question showed Gerri they weren’t the only one with the ‘issue’. The second question showed there were people that had mastered exactly what kept Gerri stuck.
I then asked the second group “What do you do when your inner critic fires up?’
I then collected a number of different ways people in the room use to manage their inner voice.
- Don’t listen to it.
- Allow it 2 minutes to share everything it wants, then get on with whatever you are doing.
- Take it out for a walk, ask it questions.
- Imagine tying it to a tree like a barking dog.
- Change the voice to something ridiculous.
I suggested that Gerri could model any of the methods offered to see if it could work for them. Because often other people have already solved the problem that keeps us stuck.
The value of modelling:
Things are never constant – there is always change as we exist in a dynamic, complex and uncertain world. In business and life, success relies on our ability to adapt, innovate, and make high quality decisions. Often we don’t realise we need to update our ways of doing things until we find we are stuck.
It is in that moment that finding a great role model can be really important. Just because you are stuck, in the same environment there may be other around you who are not. One person may be ‘stuck’ whilst someone else manages to be successful in a particular circumstance. If someone is getting results that you are not, why not learn from them?
‘Modelling’ is a process that allows you to rapidly discover novel behavioural patterns from others that can help you move forward in a more effective and efficient ways. Checking in on how others succeed is often a great opportunity to find new ways to be successful, quickly and efficiently.
How to effectively model behaviour
When you are stuck, it is time to seek a model from whom to learn newer and more effective behaviours. In modelling from others:
- Notice where you are ‘stuck’- both in terms of practical skills and cognitive skills. That is, the actions that we take, but also the way we think and make decisions (that are less obvious to see in others) at those times.
- Identify individuals who exemplify the behaviours and qualities you want to add to your toolkit. Who manages to do what you struggle with? It can happen in the context of the problem that you have; or it may be in a completely different field- for example, someone who works in a business and wants to be better at managing risk could find someone to model in business, rock climbing, diving, surfing or any other area where risks might arise.
- Consider the ‘behaviours’ and outcomes that you want may be made up of many steps, each with decision points, discriminations and choices. How are these steps sequenced? For example, how do you have a shower? Think about all of the small steps you have to take to complete the action of ‘having a shower’.
- Have a conversation with these people to find out more. Be curious. Often people cannot describe what they do, but asking questions in specific ways can draw out valuable insight. Do not as ‘why’ questions, instead ask “how do you specifically (decide, choose, consider, etc)”.
- Build a process you are comfortable with. Experiment and decide what in each process works for you and is congruent with you as a person.
- Practice and use the behaviours consciously to start with, until they become more habitual in the circumstance.
- Focus on the outcome – does the new sequence deliver an improved outcome? Does it give you the full result that you were after? Keep adapting until you have a process that works for you.
From the short conversation in the boardroom, Gerri understood they didn’t have to remain overwhelmed by the voice in their head. They now had a number of options to find a way that was right for them. This was a revelation for Gerri, and they committed to trying out the various methods and to see which one worked for them. They were now on the path to get themselves unstuck from something that had impacted them for a long time.
Leaders offer models of success:
A part of a great leader’s toolkit is the ability to always model success behaviours. A leader in group is the most visible and copied member of a team. People watch the leader closely for what they do and how they do it. A leader has to ‘walk the talk’- because people pay attention to how a leader behaves more than what they say. They set the tone on terms of behavioural standards and build the culture around these behaviours. A thoughtful leader considers how their behaviours can be modelled and continuously works to demonstrate and teach success behaviours to their teams.
A leader who is stuck needs to find their own role model to continue to improve and lead those that follow them. This is where a great coach is often an important member of every leader’s toolkit.
When you are stuck, finding a coach who can help you model, experiment with and create better habit patterns that make you more effective and efficient at evolving your behaviours. This can really speed up your learning and your ability to be successful in your context. If you want to find out more, contact me now.
* Not their real name.