As coaches we encourage our clients to look at their goals, objectives and/or challenges from as many different angles as possible. The intent for doing so is that it will expand their thinking and allow them to uncover lots of different options for moving forward.
This idea of looking at things from many angles isn’t new—it’s behind concepts such as brainstorming and “outside the box” thinking.
Nevertheless, most of us can still fall prey to recycling—and thereby reinforcing—our standard ways of thinking. This happens more often if those methods have resulted in ongoing professional or personal success. The problem is that if we aren’t careful, we can get into a thinking rut.
Here are three ways to expand your thinking and avoid a rut:
- Challenge yourself to come up with a minimum of six options for looking at any particular situation. Make a deal with yourself that no option, no matter how farfetched, is initially off the table.
- Try to solve the problem so that you never have it again. For instance, if you’re getting ready to have a second or third conversation with a direct report about missing deadlines, think about how you can resolve the situation so you never have to have that conversation again.
- When you have a problem to solve and feel you’ve run out of options, ask yourself, “Who is the smartest person I know?” Then ask yourself, “What would that person do in this situation?”
Be warned. Often when people work to expand their thinking they begin to push against their own self-limiting thoughts, beliefs, and habits. If this happens to you, it can cause you to discount or even resist your new ideas.
Most positive change is preceded first by a change in how we view a situation. As the saying goes “if nothing changes, nothing changes.” So I challenge you to strive to look at things in ways you never have before. Who knows what amazing outcomes might be sparked.
About the Author
Joanne Maynard is a senior coach with The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 130 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services. And check out Coaching Tuesday every weekat Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.