Pay Attention to What’s Working

One of the most powerful tools for leaders is choice. Moving beyond reacting to outside circumstances and consciously evaluating situations from a higher level allows for well informed actions and ultimately better results. Reaction keeps one focused on the problem when paying attention to what’s working may be the way toward solution.

For many of my clients, the way to achieve this is through re-framing.  When we are in the middle of challenging circumstances it is easy to want to either attack the problem or run away from it–in other words, fight or flight. But what if, we were able to view the same circumstance through another lens? Would we be able to not only shift our perspective would we be able to create the space for focusing on the positive?

Take the current fury over the IRS handling of Tea Party related tax-exempt applications. Without question, if there was a willful plan to keep these groups’ applications from moving forward then appropriate actions need to be pursued to understand how such actions could go on and to take corrective action. Instead, the reaction is usually to go as high up the chain of command to find someone to blame and remove him or her. (currently two senior IRS officials have been dismissed.) a perfect example of fighting and fleeing at all levels!

A more nuanced leadership position could help President Obama. How many IRS employees are doing great work? Although they are widely despised as tax collectors they fill an essential function. Isn’t there some reason to think that  of organizations with political leanings may be warranted before awarding a tax status that prohibits overt partisan activity?  While it appears that there were behaviors that did not adhere to the highest professional standards there is a great deal that is working.

But that isn’t the way that Washington operates. If one misstep is made, everything is suspect and the whole is as rotten as the lone apple. In this environment is it any wonder that we fail to create any real forward momentum when all our focus is one tiny issue rather than seeing what’s right and moving forward from that point.