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Situation out of control ? Creative going sideways ? Critical element to success overlooked ? Tension among team members rising ? It’s probably your fault.

OK, let’s parse that a bit, shall we…

I have had to learn this very valuable lesson: There are things I control. There are things I don’t. Knowing the difference helps me focus action where it can achieve the greatest effect.

That focus is definitely on the things I can control. They are my most powerful fulcrum.

So, let’s return to our list.

Situation out of control – Let’s look this over carefully. There are sure to be circumstances that I can’t effect. But if I ask this critical question, I can probably create change: How am I complicit in creating the conditions I am now struggling against ? When I look objectively and honestly, I can almost certainly find an elephant that I have brought into the room. Now that I see it, I can move it.

Creative going sideways – Almost always the roots of this are found in unclear direction. If I ask this critical question, I will usually discover the pain point: What am I saying that’s not being heard ? If I am careful to persistently and consistently communicate with my team, the creative usually stays on course.

Critical Element being overlooked – If something has been lost in the cracks, or fell out of visibility, I can usually trace it to something I haven’t adequately communicated. I can put that front and center with this critical question: What am I not saying that needs to be said ? Sometimes I allow myself to act, or to not act, out of a sense of fear. Leaving something unsaid, usually because the conversation will be difficult, allows for important things to get lost. This is part of doing the hard work FIRST.

Tension among team members rising – Tension on teams is so often rooted in what is not known, or not being heard. If I ask this critical question, I can almost always determine a cause: What’s being said that I am not hearing? It’s common for creative leaders to develop confirmation biases, or to maybe duck when a difficult question or topic is being discussed. Don’t do it. HEAR and observe what is happening right in front of you.

Try putting these questions to work today. What do you discover ? Remember, focus on the things we control will create the most powerful changes. If you look FIRST at what you can contribute, change, or see, you will almost certainly create improvement and progress. If you focus elsewhere, it’s probably your fault.