How to perform better  by solving problems at a different level!

Loop jij tegen dingen aan in je werk?Learning new things, performing better with less effort and more satisfaction, being more mild to yourself and others! That is what we all want. Unfortunately, in reality we are facing issues in life and work that make it more difficult, more stressful and less fun to perform our daily tasks. In most cases we will attempt to resolve the issues in the outside world rather than within ourselves. Something or someone in the outer world must change. We hate our boss, so we look for another job. We feel uncomfortable in our collaboration with others, so we believe that an independent job is better for us. We are not satisfied with our life, so we buy a new house and believe we will finally be happy in our dream house etc. etc.As Albert Einstein once said, one cannot solve a problem at the same level of thinking that created the problem. Much more effective solutions can be found at a higher level. Let me summarize the different levels for you.

  1. Level of the situation (what is happening). You experience a problem and are seeking a solution outside of you. Someone or something must change. Except for emergencies, these solutions are ineffective and short lived. The problem will arise again and again until you solved the core problem.
  2. Level of behavior (what you do).  You try to deal with the situation in a different way by intending to change your behavior (I will be more patient, I will listen more, quit smoking…). Despite all good intentions (especially on New Year’s Eve), people tend to go back to their old behaviors. Why, because their inner motivation has not changed.
  3. Level of  skills (what you are capable of doing) You learn new skills to cope with a situation in a different way. This is the learning level used by most trainers and coaches. If you can learn to cope with a situation differently (for example how to communicate with an angry customer) and you had a success experience, then it is likely you will use the new behavior in real-life situations. In other words, you have now more and different tools than before to deal with a particular situation. Very useful, because  the more tools you have, the more choices you have to cope with a situation. Despite the fact that this is the mainstream learning level for professionals, this learning is often not effective or only effective for a short period because the inner motivation for your behavior has not changed.  Many will recognize this from their attempts to loose weight or keep it off after the goal has been reached.
  4. Level of inner motivation (why you do what you do). This is a deeper level of learning, as you become aware of your unconscious motivation for your behavior. All psychologists agree on the fact that human behavior is in most part unconscious, we mainly perform on autopilot. Our interpretation of a situation and someone’s behavior is based on unconscious beliefs and values. A well known quote on this is “we do not believe what  we see, but see what we believe”.  This phenomenon is clearly explained by Stephen Covey in his famous book, the 7 habits of highly effective people”" and  the Dutch psychologist, Monique Schouten, the psychology of the enneagram, the 9 types and their inner motivations.By discovering what unconsciously drives your behavior, it becomes clear what your ‘perfect’ world looks like, what ideals you chase and thus how you create our own frustrations day after day (because you are never fulfilling the ideal). The good news is, as soon as you become aware of what really drives your behavior, you immediately regain control over your life. You can start making choices based on values and believes you have chosen consciously.Nice to know isn’t it? But how on earth can you uncover your unconscious motivations by using your conscious mind? I will tell more about this in the next issue of the Happy Professional. Of course you can also call/email me to learn more.
  • It also applies to people managers. You always view and judge your team from your subjective perspective. As soon as you know what unconsciously drives you, you get a clearer and more objective view. A manager who is driven by the motivation to get as much information as possible on any given subject will be very irritated about an employee who is very subjective and fast in his opinions and decisions. Being aware of his unconscious motivation, he will realize that the irritation may in fact be due to the employee not living up to his ideal world (where everything is always based on complete information). He will also realize that the perceived subjectivity may in fact indicate a great quality he is missing, the ability to take quick decisons based on minimal information and good instinct. Now he is able to make a better assessment of his employee and utilize his quality in the best way. In other words, as a manager knowing your own motivations and those of your team will save you a lot of energy and money. Obviously, the same holds true for the employee, it makes your relationship with your colleagues and boss more effective and pleasant.
  • It also applies to organization managers. Besides clear and measurable indicators like sick leave, finances etc, many aspects of a business are more soft and more subjective. Having a clear and unbiased view on issues like strategy, management culture, skills and motivation will enable the higher level managers to focus on those aspects that should really be improved in stead of trying to make the organization live up to their ideal world.

You believe this makes sense and you are eager to take your development to a new level?  Contact us for coaching possibilities.