Only if we’re thirsty for a resolution or an answer will we find one. This is why, before going into meetings I ask myself, “What is my objective? What outcome am I seeing?”
Before going into meetings, I always try and ask myself, what is my objective? What outcome am I seeking?
Have you ever noticed that how thirsty we are for a particular result will have a significant impact on our success in achieving what it is that we’re seeking? When we’re not very thirsty, we’re not very determined, then it’s going to be much harder to achieve whatever it is that we’re seeking. That’s why determination is far more important than skill. Someone can be very skilled but if they’re not determined, they will not use their skill to achieve what they’re seeking. However, when someone is determined, they will compensate for any lack of skill.
And that’s why this saying is so true, that it’s not the size of the man in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the man. The size of the determination. The size of how thirsty we really are to get the results that we want.
I’ve noticed in many projects that I do that sometimes I’m not really determined, I’m not really ready to go all the way and make sure that this is going to happen. But when I have that determination, that no matter what I must make this happen, that is when I know that I’m going to and I always do see results.
And very often when we’re in conflict, and I found this as well, when I’m in conflict with another person, I’m not really thirsty for a resolution. I get distracted by my need to be right or to look good. And when I can recalibrate myself and ask myself, what do I really want out of this conflict, do I really want to see a resolution, if I can refocus myself that is when I actually see myself focused on a resolution. And that’s the reason why before going into meetings I always try and ask myself, what is my objective? What outcome am I seeking? Because when I walk into a meeting and I know exactly what outcome I want to seek, I can stay focused on that and I don’t let other things distract me. I don’t get worried about whether I’m right or they’re right or whether this is making me look better or worse because I know exactly what outcome I want and I stay focused on that.
And this is really powerful because, in particular, when we are in conflict with another person and we want to have a resolution, we can actually sit through a meeting where we will be entirely wrong, based on the other person’s words, and whether we, in fact, are wrong or not is irrelevant to us because we’re not focused on being right or wrong, we’re focused on the resolution. So that person can insist we’re wrong and we can be fine with that even though that’s not true because we’re not here to be right. We’re here to resolve the conflict.
And this is the truth behind what Stephen Covey teaches in his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, seek first to understand, then to be understood. The only way we can sit with someone else and spend our time understanding them, especially when they have a completely different viewpoint than we do, is when we walk into that meeting saying, I want to understand where this person is coming from. I’m not here simply to impose my view on the other person by speaking as loudly as I can over them but I want to hear what they have to say.
We need to have the right mindset when we walk into the meeting in order to be able to have a conversation with someone in that way. And this is the reason why when we are thirsty, we know we will do anything to get something to drink. And the thirstier we become, the more open we become to entertaining possibilities that we haven’t entertained before. And this is exactly why hitting rock bottom can be so effective. Because if we weren’t open enough until we hit rock bottom, hitting rock bottom sometimes opens us up to possibilities that we would never otherwise entertain. And so it’s an unfortunate blessing that enters into our life because when we slam really hard on the bottom, we suddenly say, hey, I need to consider things I wasn’t considering until now.
So when we’re in conflict with another person, what do we really want? Do we really want to let them know how terrible they are? How wrong they are? How foolish they are? Or do we really want to find a resolution to the conflict?
The way we engage in that conversation tells us how thirsty we really are for resolution. And I’ve encountered this a lot when people ask me questions, they’ll ask me why, why this, why that, different questions that people have. And I can tell from the way they’re asking the question that they don’t really want an answer, they’re not thirsty for an answer, they’re thirsty to let me know how strong their question is. So very often I’ll ask them, well, how badly do you want an answer? Typically they’ll say, well, I really want an answer, that’s why I’m asking the question. But I try to demonstrate to them that it doesn’t sound like they really want an answer. And from the resistance of anything I will tell them it can be quite clear that they’re not seeking an answer.
And so when we ask questions, we have to ask ourselves, do we really want an answer to this question? Sometimes we like to stick with the question, either because we’re so proud of it or because we’re more comfortable in the question because that supports our world view or whatever it may be rather than actually hearing an answer which may change the way we see everything. So I like to show people sometimes that if you stay with that question, you can. But I want you to realize that living with that question the rest of your life may keep you in a very painful place or in a very unsettling place. And it may be worthwhile to open yourself up to truly seeking an answer. Because seeking an answer will actually give you a lot more peace in your life and take away the pain that you’re living in.
And this is the reason why if we want to move on in life, then we need to be thirsty for a new way instead of being comfortable insisting on the way that we’ve been using. If we want to grow in life as a person, we have to be ready to approach everything with an open mind. And we do that when we are thirsty to move on in life when we are thirsty to grow. Because that thirst is like someone who has hit rock bottom. When we are thirsty, we are ready to drink new ideas that we weren’t open to until now.
And so I encourage you, as I always try to encourage myself, make sure you’re always thirsty for a new type of drink because that may be the drink that will transform your life.