Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Embrace The Pain

There are some situations you find yourself in that simply have no good resolution. Circumstances sometimes make it that you are choosing the lesser of two evils. Yes, this is a common cliche but what isn't common is how you can sometimes use these situations to your ultimate advantage.  Let me explain.
Getting to pain as quickly as possible is a motivator for success.
Driving adoption or gaining mind-share is always a challenge. This is because we aren't always aware of our baggage and assumptions. We get complacent and just accept that things are going to continue forward in whatever way they have been in the past. This stops your contributors, decision-makers or constituents from taking action or seeing a way forward. They see the unknowns in the future as risky and uncomfortable compared to the situation they have come to know, regardless of the discomfort or short-comings of that circumstance.

To drive activity or reaction, you need a pain to shock the system. You need people to be internally motivated to confront their fear head-on. Embracing the need for true change must come from within. While you can try and force behavior, you can't force someone to accept your perspective. You can, however, influence them to evaluate their own perspectives which can have the similar result of allowing someone to embrace the need for change.

We can leverage this need to make up our own minds as a key to influence. Allowing others to feel the true weight of their own choices is often enough to help them see that a change is necessary. If you realize your people are in this situation, you can help them make up their minds quicker by allowing the short-comings and discomfort of their situation come to light. Which is why we see that getting to pain quickly is a great motivator. This is a corollary to the tenet that if it is possible to fail, fail as fast as possible.

Some ways you can help people get to pain is by defining metrics you actively track, making people write down issues instead of just verbally complain, and keeping your mouth shut when they take risks or make bad decisions against your advice.

Some things to keep in mind are not saying I told you so when things fall apart, staying ambiguously neutral when they try and drag you into their mess, and make sure the lines of accountability and expectations for communication are very clear.

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