Tag Archives: resistance

My Way Highway

“So, the solution to the productivity problem with my team requires curiosity?” Dalton wanted to confirm.

“Yes, become a curious child,” I nodded. “You see, you have grown up to an adult and your inner critic has become very sophisticated. Your judge has no empathy for you, your judge only wants resolution, even if your resolution doesn’t work. To reach a real resolution, you have to become a curious child.”

“You don’t mean childish?” Dalton wanted to know.

“No, I want you to see yourself as a child, have empathy for that child. Give yourself permission, yes, even permission to fail. With that, you open the doors to discovery. You have a very real problem with your team’s productivity. There are many alternatives between my way or the highway.

Curiosity Did Not Kill the Cat

“I don’t feel like a Jedi,” Dalton explained. “My head tells me to move to the next step, but my body feels resistance. The tightness in my chest is unsure.”

“Of course, you are unsure. The future is full of uncertainty and ambiguity,” I replied. “That is why you need all your creative energy to find the best path. With your judge looking over your shoulder, your body will win, taking you back to familiar patterns even though they did not work in the past. Under pressure, most people revert back to what seems familiar.”

“The resistance is the struggle?” Dalton asked.

“Your resistance is the first struggle. But, you don’t have to win completely, you just have to open the door to possibility. Your judge will keep you blinded to a limited set of alternatives, this way or else. It’s a familiar problem in parenting. Under pressure to bring a child into compliance, parents resort to repeating themselves, increasing frequency and increasing volume. If I told you once, I told you a thousand times. Even though it doesn’t work, the familiar pattern persists.”

“And?” Dalton tilted his head.

“And, the struggle against resistance is counterintuitive. You cannot fight it, you have to relax into it, give yourself permission to fail. Resistance only works when you are rigid and frozen. That is the source of the resistance. Discovery and exploration only work when you adopt curiosity.”

The Force

“Okay, I’ll bite,” I said. “How did you get that from Star Wars?”

Dalton shifted in his chair. “Look, it all started with a calamity on the shop floor. Materials were late, a machine broke down and Fred didn’t show up for work. My manager was miffed because I missed our production target. I am not saying that my manager is Darth Vader, but that is the way I felt. Dark side stuff. Some of that dark side lives inside and I listen to it. My guess, we all listen to it. That is the source of my inner critic, my judge. I’ve lived with my judge all my life, so he is a familiar character. My judge knows me and is very persuasive, always providing a way out, projecting blame on everything around me, so that, should I fail, it is not my fault.”

“And, if that is what you believe, what does that do for your team’s problem?” I asked.

“It certainly doesn’t help me look at alternative solutions. In fact, looking for blame keeps me in the past where there is certain to be a scapegoat.”

“What changed?”

Dalton’s spirit was up. “May the force be with you. You said I had to give myself permission, even permission to fail. The force won’t help you unless you trust the force. I had to slow down, relax. Thank my inner critic for sharing the tightness in my chest. Armoring up to protect myself may provide defense, but it cuts off the creativity I need to solve the problem.”

“Young Jedi,” I pronounced. “You are ready for the next step. Discovery, exploration, creating alternatives that might solve your team’s problem.”

The Dark Side

“Do you think that a change in your thinking can change the outcome of the circumstances with your team? Do you believe that a thought has the power to do that?” I asked.

Dalton was slow to reply. “My brain tells me that is so, but this tightness in my chest has me off-balance. My head says yes, my body says no.”

“So, who is in charge?” I tilted my face. “You know the body is just a connected series of neurons charged up with hormones and other chemical cocktails it produces. If your body could talk, what would that tightness in your chest be telling your brain?”

Dalton started to laugh, proving, in spite of the circumstance, that he had a sense of humor. “My body would be saying – Brain, you are up against a really difficult problem. As your body, we know there is a possibility of failure, so we have served up some chemicals to prepare you for defeat. Brain, we know that you have aspirations to solve your problems, but the body knows better. Do you feel that tightness in your chest? That tightness is just our resistance to your aspirations. We have been driving that resistance all of your life, and that is why it feels so familiar. We know you have aspirations right now, but if you would just put those off until tomorrow, or even next week, we will release the tightness in your chest. In fact, if you could find a smaller aspiration, a smaller problem, we wouldn’t put up such a fuss.”

I nodded my own chuckle. “Where did you get that?”

Dalton nodded. “Star Wars.”

Subtle Pushback

“He resists everything,” Ruben explained. “We cover the same solutions to the same problems. At the time, Edmund finally agrees, but I sense, he agrees only because he can’t argue the logic. He goes along with the solution, but two weeks later, the same problem pops up and we start all over again.”

“So, you have to step in and it takes up your time?” I asked.

“Worse than that. It’s almost underhanded. Behind the scenes, it’s like he wants the solution to fail. He doesn’t openly sabotage the new method, and I haven’t caught him bad-mouthing the process. Sometimes, it’s just the way he rolls his eyes in the meeting.”