Every failure, setback, or breakdown is an opportunity for a breakthrough. The key to that is how you relate to the situation. Is it a problem or is it a breakdown vis-à-vis the expectations? You might say that is a question of semantics, but I think not. Synonyms of problem are difficulty, trouble, worry, and complication. All carry a connotation of something being wrong, which results in a mindset that narrows the consideration for what is the next action to be taken. Problems occur as a problem because they interrupt a commitment.
Failure is not an option. Or is it?
Post-it notes, penicillin, microwave ovens, and pacemakers are only a few ubiquitous items that are the result of a failure to produce an intended outcome. Why didn’t they end up in the trash heap? I think it was how the inventors related to the outcomes. They didn’t internalize the ‘failure’ in the same way most people would. Instead, they observed the facts (and not what they made those facts mean about their own personal ability or self-worth) and saw new possibilities. The breakdown was in reality a pathway to breakthrough.
Move Powerfully Into Action
Problems occur as a problem because they interrupt a commitment. If you take out the judgment that is present with a problem, it becomes a breakdown: a break in honoring the commitment. When breakdowns occur, and they will occur, here are some ways to open up a path to breakthrough performance:
- Declare it. Let key people know what has happened.
- Decide if you are committed to resolving it.
- Make requests of others to help in the resolution.
- Distinguish the facts from interpretation–this helps to get the emotion out of the situation.
- Redefine the commitment.
- Identify what is present or missing to move forward on the commitment.
- Define what actions will be taken by whom and when for resolution.
- Get into action.
While breakdowns can supercharge the emotions, unhooking from the interpretation, addressing the facts, and recommitting can open a whole new realm of possibility.