When you stop to think back to better days in your life, it’s easy to focus on how calm, tranquil and secure they were. In reality, when you think a little harder, you realize that the time you are remembering was only a short sojourn. There were, no doubt, difficult issues just before and right after that “calm and tranquil time.”
So, what did you do with the issues that you experienced before and after those calm and tranquil times? You dealt with them, one by one.
It’s no different today. We all have issues that suddenly appear. Some are big, some are small, some are difficult and some, not so much. They come unbidden; no invitation is necessary. We don’t even have to get up and let them in. They just open the door and walk into our lives.
Fortunately, they usually don’t stick around for very long. While they exist, we have to deal with them. How we respond to these issues can make the difference in whether we learn and improve our lives, or if we simply endure the stress and trauma that comes from living through them.
An example of this is the COVID-19 experience we are all living through right now. For some people, depending on their job or position, it can be quite upsetting and stressful. For others it could be challenging and exciting. For some it could be a little bit of both.
So, the question you must ask yourself is: What do you see when you look around? Do you see problems with no solutions? Do you see difficult circumstances that turn your stomach into a tight and painful knot? If you do, then you are looking at your life through distorted lenses.
Let’s take a look at some strategies that can give you an advantage over problems when they come knocking at your door. These are strategies you can use to create certainty during uncertain times.
1. Keep things in focus
First, “look in your rearview mirror.” No matter how many years you have walked this Earth, you need to realize you must have done some things right to get this far in your life. You have made some positive choices to get past the challenges that have confronted you. Now, you have the opportunity to make enlightened choices for the new problems that have entered your life. Based on what you have already experienced and learned, you have the wherewithal to deal with the new “adventures” life has to offer. But you have to make the choice to do that. Make the choice to look for the tools and resources you already possess and implement them to help you solve the problems and challenges you are facing. Don’t look down, but look around for a solution that is just waiting to be implemented.
It may be found in the words from a friend or book you are reading. It may be something you learned five years ago from a past experience and it worked well until you stopped using it. Use what you know has worked for you before.
2. Think clearly
The second strategy for creating certainty during uncertain times is to “stop fogging the mirror.”
What I mean by that is to let go of the biases and preconceived notions you bring to the present situation that are not useful and may be downright harmful.
Just as some of those past experiences during your life have given you some useful tools, they have also added some nonuseful opinions and misconceptions that are preventing you from creating the certainty that you seek.
Several years back I was at a crossroads in my career. I had left one company I had worked with and pondered what my next step should be. I was feeling uncertain of what the future held for me. I longed for the time in my younger years when I attended college and was seeking my bachelor’s degree. That was a time in my life that I felt alive, growing and destined for new adventures that life had to offer.
Mistakenly, I thought that if I went back to college to attain a master’s degree in educational leadership, it would be what I needed to make my life purposeful again. You see, I was fogging the mirror. I was hoping that what I had experienced in my early 20s was going to work for me again in my later years. I was sadly mistaken. I earned my master’s degree, but it wasn’t the solution I was looking for. For me, it was a mistake. I let my past feelings and emotions from college cloud my decision-making process as I planned my next career strategy.
So, here is my second point. Let go of unhelpful opinions and misconceptions that create more uncertainty. Do your research and seek out advice from consultants or others who have done what you want to do. This will increase your odds of creating the right solution and eliminate uncertainty from your life.
3. Push through difficulty.
Finally, the third strategy is to “break the mirror.” This means to open up your mind to a new and different idea, method or way of solving your problem or challenge.
Here is a tool you can use to try a new idea or strategy to solve a problem you are facing. I call it the TMET Method. Here is what the acronym TMET stands for:
T – Try the idea. Simply spend the time and money plus the effort to try the new approach to solving your problem or challenge.
M – Measure the results. How well did it work? How much better off am I than I was before I tried it?
E – Evaluate the results. Was the effort worth the time and money your put into the initiative? Did it solve your problem?
T – Tweak or toss the idea. Fine-tune it. Improve it in any way possible that will make it even better the next time you use it. Or, toss it. Simply discard the idea and chalk it up to experience. Know this is something you probably won’t want to try again.
The next time professional and personal issues come knocking on your door, try these three strategies:
1. Look in your rearview mirror. Use what has worked for you before.
2. Stop fogging the mirror. Let go of your bias and preconceived notions.
3. Break the mirror. Open up your mind to new and different ideas, methods and ways of solving your problems and challenges, and use the TMET formula.
There you have it. Three strategies to help you productively and successfully deal with the issues that walk through your door and beg you to solve them. Now go out there and use them!
Tom Borg is a team performance and customer experience expert who works with green industry organizations and their leadership teams to help them connect, communicate and work together better without all the drama through his consulting, training, coaching, leadership instruments and job benchmarking tools. To ask him a question, please call 734.404.5909, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at: www.tomborgconsulting.com.