Dealing with Intrusive Problems in Your Life

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Dealing with ongoing problems is a part of life.  Life presents challenges everyday, and in many cases solutions emerge, and we move onto the next challenge.  Without problems or challenges, life could be mundane.

Intrusive problems are difficulties that are chronic in nature, and keep screaming for our attention.  The more intrusive the problem, the more it screams for us to deal with it.  Failure to deal with ongoing problems, can lead to more dramatic impact on relationships, our health, and are a common cause of financial and interpersonal conflicts.

Intrusive problems as thoughts and value conflicts – Conflict is a result of having a wish and a fear.  What we fear, is often a result of conflicts in our lives that have no current resolution.

Why Do You Let Things Rent Space In Your Head? If intrusive thoughts are a function of unresolved problems in our lives, they have a direct relationship to the way we think about our wishes and fears.  They also correspond to the way we violate our principles or values, and how we may be compromising other areas of our lives in pursuit of an unacknowledged expectation. Think of your mind as a big hotel.  A hotel can be expansive, large, or small.  It can have multiple rooms.  If your mind is carrying around all the weight of unresolved emotional business, then obviously you are ‘letting a lot of these things rent space in your head’.  Sometimes, we let the problems mount, and we actually expand the number of rooms in our metaphoric hotel in our minds.  We let more stuff in, that has no value for our progress, and may actually begin to take over our capacities for change, and resolution.

Naming the Conflicts – The best way to eliminate the baggage we carry around is to decide whether you will let these intrusive items continue to inhabit your thoughts, time, and attention.  Too many people spend unnecessary time dealing with things that hold them emotionally hostage.  Failure to deal with conflicts renders you unable to move forward.  Placing names to the things that rent unnecessary space is the first step toward releasing yourself from these conflicts.

Letting Go – Learning to let go of the unnecessary – is the preliminary step toward actual change, and eliminating intrusive thinking.  What do you control?  What is out of your control…and why?  Some questions to ask during the process of letting go:

  1. Why is the emotional baggage important to you?
  2. What would it be like if you let go?
  3. Do you want to be hostage to the intrusive thinking (which is likely not completely real)?
  4. Why can’t you live free of these conflicts?
  5. How is the conflict relate to what you truly believe?

Taking Charge – Being torn over something, doesn’t mean you have to stay that way.  Exercising courage to free yourself of unnecessary emotional baggage, and the associated thoughts is a process.  You have to decide if you are the author of your life – living out other people’s scripts, or you deserve better.

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Recognizing Personal “Drift” In Our Lives

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Like the constant pounding of the surf, we may find ourselves being “pounded”.  Numerous demands, and pressures may take their toll.  For many, the solution is to engage in “personal drift.”  The results of this can lead to more problems than the original pressures that created it.

The precursors to “drift” – 

  1. Overcommitment
  2. We’re too over-involved in things that don’t really matter
  3. We’re being confronted by things that overwhelm us, or scare us emotionally (we’re in over our heads)
  4. Lack of skill – we don’t know what we’re doing
  5. We have lost our passion

The “drift” – What happens:

  1. Avoidance
  2. Engaging in easy, but inconsequential activities or projects
  3. Falling short on our requirements of our job
  4. Engaging in destructive personal behaviors
  5. “Emotional Amnesia” – we disconnect

The drift is subtle, slow and happens without much fanfare or notice.  Co-workers, family members, and others around us notice our tendency to be distant, irritable, insensitive, and not at our best.  Our workplace may notice a slow drift away from the standards of practice that we were accustomed.  Our emotional amnesia becomes a constant defense against the outside world of the pounding surf.  It is hard to extract ourselves from this pattern.

With many the results are:

  • Poor health, constant illness, and emotional resentment
  • Missed opportunities in life

Ways of recognizing when you’re drifting: Ongoing self assessment.  There are countless ways to self assess, and many of them are basic.  Journaling, using a Moleskine, obtaining regular feedback, and exercise are just the common approaches.  Others can include the following simple self assessment:

  • What standards do I subscribe to?
  • How do I feel?
  • Where am I, in respect to where I want to be?

In other words, the solution is right in front of you.  Pulling up the blinders periodically is a great place to start.  The questions are really internal.  We already have the answers inside us, but are sometimes too afraid to ask them.

The Silent Factors Behind Organizational Success

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Sustaining organizational momentum is a result of three key attributes. This doesn’t mean that human resources and capital are not important.  

The intrinsic qualities that make an organization succeed are the things that are not readily seen, but silently there.

The silent factors to organizational success

The Skill that is imbedded in human resources is an area that separates the mediocre from the spectacular organization.  The most critical decision is how each part of your teams are assembled and implemented.  Less skilled individuals can silently weaken the best strategy and effort.  

Everyone says they have skills, but when the rubber meets the road, those with the intrinsic skill carries the organization.

Clarity in thinking or Awareness of the organization, its beliefs, and purpose is a silent driver that helps the different imperatives move or stall.  Those that drive projects, need to be very conscientious and possess great personal awareness.  

Talk is great, but those with the ability to think ahead exponentially drive progress and sustainability. 

Authenticity is making things real and being real.  There are a lot of charlatans out there trying to show something, but with little depth beyond a personal agenda.

Authenticity is present when a person’s skill, and awareness all line up

Many leaders in organizations lack the skill and awareness, and end up acting as if they have no substance. 

Sustaining is about keeping these factors present

When the leader keeps these factors lined up, and makes decisions according to these factors, sustaining the organization occurs more readily.  When the leader takes their eye off of any one of these silent factors, the organization may face weaknesses.

Learning To Reach Farther Than You Expect

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Knowing you can reach farther, requires higher expectations.  Those with mediocre aspirations, never really find out how far they can succeed.  Being scripted to expect less, gets less.   Early experiences, negative messages, and unhealthy relationships can all contribute to thinking that you deserve less, which means that you pursue less.

Having higher expectations imply that you believe you deserve more.  Believing you are worth more, opens up your awareness of more opportunity, and the desire and willingness to reach farther.

Believing you are worth more, opens up your awareness of more opportunity, and the desire and willingness to reach farther.

Developing your way to reach farther – The basic building blocks:

  1. Examine the scripts (beliefs and values) that you experienced through your life.  Do those scripts have a tendency to expand or limit what you are, and what you have become up to this point?  Were they negative, or did they empower you to become more than you thought you could do?
  2. Awareness: Are you aware of your capacities?  Knowing as much as you can about you, precedes your next steps to take next steps.  Those that do not know themselves, lack the ability to know how far they can go.
  3. Skill: Any prerequisite in knowing what path to take, will be influenced by existing skill.
  4. Determination: Having a ‘stubborn determination’ means you have the resiliency and the courage to take the next steps, going farther and higher than you have before.

Those that do not know themselves, lack the ability to know how far they can go

Knowing you deserve better – is a script for success.  When you know you deserve more, can do more, or want to do more, you are positioned to find out how far you can go.

Taking Action: If you want more, then you know you will have to stretch.  Personal leadership requires the willingness to –

  • Fail – knowing that there is a risk for failure.
  • Taking incremental steps – Doing something more, creates momentum toward larger things.
  • Keeping at it: Change and growth is not an overnight process.  Keeping the momentum and action going – will make your reach potentially more possible.

Doing something more, creates momentum toward larger things.

4 Ways to Recognize Your Mistakes



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The saying goes: “You don’t know what you don’t know…” means that people don’t have enough awareness to know how they are making mistakes.  This may be true in some instances, but many repeated mistakes occur because we are avoiding what we need to do.  Rather than an intellectual or skill deficit, repeated error is an attempt to solve a problem using the same mistaken approach.

Many repeated mistakes occur because we are avoiding what we need to do. 

Pattern Recognition – Many mistakes are repeated cycles or patterns of problem behavior. The problem behavior often happens over and over as if it is a sequence of actions made up of faulty thinking.  We can’t help ourselves, we use the same faulty logic, and repeat the same behaviors – hoping things will change.

Rather than an intellectual or skill deficit, repeated error is an attempt to solve a problem using the same mistaken approach.

The solution lies in recognition – Much like the patchwork of buildings in the photo above, there is a pattern.  Recognizing where you’re falling short in your results requires a willingness to look for more answers.  Obviously, if we can begin to realize we’re not getting the results we want, then we begin the journey of correcting our mistakes.

Recognizing where you’re falling short in your results requires a willingness to look for more answers.  

The ‘pain’ of mistakes increases your ability to recognize a different path can lie ahead.

4 Ways to recognize your mistakes

  • Self-Reflection: Write or journal about the ‘repeated’ sequences and poor outcomes you’re receiving – there is purpose and a reason behind the mistakes.

There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are given to us to learn from. 

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

  • Exercise Humility: Ask someone close to you if they see a problem pattern – what do they see?
  • Ask Yourself: What am I doing repeatedly to get the same result?
  • What do others do to get different results?

Repeated sequences create similar results.  What behaviors in your life may be repeated mistakes?


Guidelines for Working Through Personal Conflict & Doubt



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Personal conflict impacts everyone.  There are competing concerns, dilemmas, and contradictory thoughts that create stress and doubt.

Conflict is essentially a ‘Wish’ and a ‘Fear’.  What we wish for has a corresponding fear.

Stress and doubt can be enduring and stifle productivity and healthy choices.  The ways conflict impacts us can lead to:

  1. Missed opportunities 
  2. Avoidance
  3. Unhealthy coping behaviors 
  4. Not fulfilling our capacity 

Moving beyond doubt – Realize that your strength is that you can name the fear that drives your conflict.  The fear keeps our capacity to act at a standstill.  

Learn to confront your fear – is your fear based on the past or failure?  Is it a realistic fear, or are you simply avoiding something that you need to move ahead on?

Many ‘wishes’ to move ahead are squelched by the fears we create. 

Refusing to acknowledge our fears, or doing something about them will result in a self-perpetuating cycle of indecision and doubt.

Moving through doubt- 

  1. Identify what you really want
  2. Write down the fears that led to conflict with what you want
  3. Write down the reasons why you think what you want is so important 
  4. Consider whether the fear is worth the time you’re putting it it
  5. Identify what evidence you have for the fear 

The fear you have means something, and explains more about your perceived weaknesses, or about unmet needs

Getting Through the Bad By Finding the Good

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Working through the problem requires you to first find what is working

Learning to find the good is often the last thing you look for.  The overarching magnitude of the problem will often squelch out things that are happening well.

3 Ways to find the good through the bad

  1. Reflect on times when the bad isn’t happening.  What does that look like, and what is happening in/or/around you?
  2. Who is a resource that can help you?
  3. What is the bad teaching you about what you really want?

Find your good 

The good isn’t just going to walk up to you and tap you on the shoulder.  It requires discovery on your part.  Thinking critically about what you have is the best way to see yourself through the difficulties.

Ways to discover the good 

  1. Reverse engineer- How is this working well for others?
  2. Take stock – How am I doing well here?
  3. What was working before?
  4. What are my preferred results?
  5. How did I get there before?
  6. What assistance do I need?

There is a good on the other side of the bad.  It just requires some effort to begin identifying it, and maintain the confidence that the good is out there.  Take some time and do some inventory of the good that might be around the corner from the bad.

Preventing What Matters from Drifting Away

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It is very easy to get caught up in activities that gradually erode and pull you away from what really matters. The more successful and effective you are, the higher the risk of being pulled away from what really defines importance for you.

Over the years, there is a lot of literature that talks about defining what matters in your life. If you can move activities and intentions toward what matters, then results you desire should follow. The act of defining what matters is not as easy as it sounds. The busier you are, the more important roles you play in others’ lives, and the more skilled you are, the higher likelihood you will actually be pulled from what matters. Defining what matters becomes blurry because of the massive demands you face because of success and talent.

How do you keep what matters from drifting away?

1. Being involved in more, is going to lead to more drift. Depending on the important roles you provide, you might be in too may roles.

2. Define what roles, experiences, and priorities that are most important. Instead of defining this along the generic roles of “family”, “my work”, “my children”, get more specific. Think intuitively about your experiences through the week. What brought joy, what didn’t? What are you really wanting to do more of, that isn’t happening. This is where you start your working definitions.

3. Look at what provides value. What is not providing much value? How is your resources spent, is there some things that are cutting away your priorities, and interests?

4. Graph it. Define where you are spending your time, and do an activity analysis for a month. Record your moods, at different points. An easy way would be to use your calendar. Place notes about your experience after each activity is done. This “mini-journal” will help you define what is important, and where you are drifting away.

Take your time with the process. Remember you didn’t get this way overnight. Understanding drift from what matters may take some time.

5 Ways Being An ‘Expert’ Can Cause Failure

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Being an “expert” implies that one has reached a certain level of competency. Having reached a stature of ‘expertise’ requires a good dose of humility to prevent failure in social and business endeavors. Being an authority at what you do can be hollow without the corresponding character that is needed to make it successful.

A Title, But Not Always Reality
Titles are easy to come by, but knowledge + character is a much harder combination to acquire. There are sure paths to failure for experts that avoid acknowledging their weak spots…still more ways to fail when our confidence squelches out important messages that we receive from those that seek our assistance.

5 Paths To Failure As An Expert
1. We stop listening to those we are supposed to help.
When we focus only on knowing we will lose our credibility to help. We need to work hard to continuously understand, and understand needs, rather than jump to predetermined conclusions.

2. Our Agendas are Stronger than Meeting A Need.
Humility is absent, and we fail to understand the client’s need clearly and adequately. We can’t move past our own autobiography.

3. Being an Expert Can Lead to Missing Out on Other’s Ideas
Chances are, the more we espouse our own expertise, we have the potential to miss out on important lessons our clients teach us.

4. Having ‘Expertise’ Is A Privilege and Part of the Journey, Not A Final Destination.
Having expertise is a journey, not a destination. It requires ongoing development and constant learning. If we feel we have “arrived”, we really haven’t.

5. Without Character, Our Expertise, Has Less Meaning.
Arrogance and having disregard for others creates the perception you really don’t know what you’re doing. Talking a good story, without the personal character that goes with it, will eventually degrade your effectiveness.

Evaluate
Think about whether your expertise is going in the right direction, or is set for potential failure. Being good at what you do is only half the requirement. Being mindful that you don’t know everything is an important attribute to building competency and confidence with others around you.