A good coaching session begins by exploring what is going well. Leveraging our successes and strengths accelerates outcomes. This approach calls on personal resourcefulness and resiliency. As David Emerald of the TED Dynamic writes: “Focus on problems and you’ll see more problems. Focus on outcomes and you’ll see more possibilities”. Do you tend to have an outcome or problem focused mindset?
In a recent blog by Emerald, he writes “problems stick together like Velcro”. He created a diagram that visualizes the mindsets of both problem and outcome focus. It is simple, elegant and powerful. On the problem side of the diagram are words such as: anxiety, blame, worry and fear. On the outcome side of the diagram are words such as: opportunities, possibilities, innovation, ideas, and enthusiasm. This simple diagram helps us to notice our mindset around problems and outcomes.
This week, take a moment to listen to your language. What do you hear yourself saying more? Are you problem focused? If so, ask yourself how that is helping you reach your goal. Are you more outcome focused? If so, ask what conditions allowed you to stay focused on outcomes rather than problems.
Examples to listen for:
- I think that’s a good idea but I just don’t see how we can implement with the resources we have.
- I am so energized by this vision.
- I fear that our team just does not have the time to work on this project right now.
- There certainly is an opportunity for future development.
- I am worried by the amount of time this is going to take.
- The outcome we want is…
- The problem with this….
What did you notice about yourself? What did you feel as you read these lists of comments? Where did you feel energy? drain? What do you see as the benefit of shifting your language from problem to outcome focused?
Emerald writes that “with the focus on outcomes, problems can be identified that need to be addressed… and good problem-solving tools and techniques can be applied to resolve them. Without a desired outcome, it is easy for co-workers to lose sight of what they want to create together, and problems will stick together like Velcro.”
What problem focused Velcro do you have in your work, home or community right now? How might you want to shift towards the outcome focus? What is possible in that shift?