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  • Writer's pictureTasha Harmon

Focusing on What’s Needed

When we are navigating difficult and demanding situations (making tough decisions, managing big transitions, etc.), it is helpful to differentiate between the work required to address the challenge, and the reactivity and stress often created by how we, or others around us, are framing that challenge.

Here’s a workplace example (and, I could as easily have chosen a personal or relationship example - the issues are the same):

“We are navigating a bunch of complex financial challenges. These stem in part from our not being able to address some problems sooner.”

What’s needed to handle this:

⭐ Curiosity about the current challenges, lessons learned, and possible solutions

⭐ Openness to new possibilities

⭐ Focused work and clear thinking

⭐ In some cases, strong collaboration, which requires the ability to listen and stay curious about other people’s perspectives and ideas

But rather than going there, we often find ourselves caught up in feelings of guilt, frustration, blame or judgment about earlier actions or inactions.

This can feel like lots of things:

🫤 Contraction – a tightening up of your body and, usually, your thinking

🫤 Agitation – jumpy, buzzy energy that can make it hard to focus, or listen, or look toward solutions

🫤 A burden – pushing a boulder uphill, or dragging one behind you, slogging through mud, weight on your shoulders, etc.

🫤 Fogginess – not being able to think well, or focus, or listen/track, or make decisions

Blame and judgment - whether focused inward or outward - get in the way of focusing what we need to do to actually handle the challenge in front of us.

Here are a few tools for letting go of the not-useful blame and judgment:

🔹 Practice noticing when you are focusing in that way - what’s it like in your body? If we tune in, our bodies can tell us when we have shifted into that negative spiral.

🔹 When you notice it, name it, and meet it with compassion, not more blame and judgment.

🔹 Use my video of a one-minute silver rain meditation to let go of it.

🔹 Then move into curiosity. You could start with these questions:

▪️ What’s hard about this situation?

▪️ What can we learn from the past that will help us now?

▪️ What exactly do we want to be different?

▪️ What assumptions are we making?

▪️ What resources do we have for answering those questions? For creating solutions?

▪️ Who will be most impacted by this challenge? And how do we get their ideas and feedback as we are developing strategies?

More useful questions can be found in the Using “What” Questions to Move Meetings Forward and Powerful Questions handouts on my website.

What questions do you find most useful when you are trying to get focused on what needs to be done? Please share in the comments.


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