Know what’s behind you, but keep your focus on what’s ahead

We can all be creatures of habit. It’s easy to get stuck in a particular way of thinking about a person or situation. Yet when we can look ahead instead of behind, we can find new answers, new solutions.

Last Friday, I met with a staff of a small organization to review assessment results. It was a fun and rewarding time for me, because everyone was genuinely interested in learning more about themselves and each other. They were filled with probing questions that reflected their interest in looking ahead.

They understood that there were no “right” or “wrong” results, and that the reports indicated a person’s natural style and tendency. In fact, differences can be a huge advantage on a team; the important point is to have an awareness of a particular style and know how it may influence an interaction or task on a project.

About half of this team of 20 had worked together for many years. The others have joined the company more recently, a couple of them within the last few weeks. I respected the openness of this team to move past the known dynamics of the team members who have worked together for a long time. Rather than getting mired in how they “knew” someone would react to something, they eagerly explored the motivation of the reaction that they had previously experienced. They moved away from judging that reaction as “wrong” but explored how it could be useful to think about something differently.

Yesterday when Grace and I went on a walk, she readily jumped on top of this rock. Her first instinct was to look behind (shown in the picture above), but then she turned to look ahead. I guess we all have that tendency when facing a new hurdle. But if Grace can look ahead, I know you can, too!

It’s very easy to get frustrated with someone if that person has annoyed you in the past. Yet if we enter a new conversation with that same person, bringing with us a willingness to see another way, we will likely find there is value in the other person’s approach.

Even if you don’t change the process or the decision involved, it will absolutely help you have greater respect for the other opinion when you realize that the person has genuine intentions for the same things you want.

The way you get there may be different and there isn’t anything wrong with that.

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  1. Laurie Bartolo on February 27, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Great post Robin! The reason I love assessments is that there is no right or wrong and there is no judgment. We spend too much time in “judging” mode (whether judging ourselves or others) and criticizing the things we don’t like rather than seeing the beauty and possibilities in the truth (who we truly are). Assessments shine a light on the beauty and possibilities. I’m glad you had such an open minded group to work with and I hope some of your participants were able to see the people they “know” through a new lens. Also, great photos of Grace (do you use her photos in any of your presentations?).

    • PeopleSense Consulting LLC on February 28, 2012 at 1:52 pm

      I agree — assessments allow us to see all the good and understand it through a common language. I haven’t used pictures of Grace in my presentations — what a great idea! That has me thinking ….

  2. spiderpaw on February 27, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    I can relate to this post Robin. As a business owner, I had all the answers and thought that anyone with a different approach was just plain wrong. Over the years I slowly learned not to be so quick to judge and stopped anticipating the “wrong” answers from my workers.

    • PeopleSense Consulting LLC on February 28, 2012 at 1:53 pm

      You are very wise, Lionel. I know for me it’s still hard to get rid of impressions that I have, but it’s really helpful to keep it as a goal, especially when I’m frustrated with someone!

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