Column: Find the way out to find the way forward

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At some point in our lives we all experience obstacles, challenges or barriers, things that keep us from moving ahead. And sometimes we become so fixated on the problem that we actually feel stuck. And the longer we remain stuck, the harder it is to break free or move forward. When this happens, we typically overthink the situation, leading to what is referred to as analysis paralysis.

For some of it feels like we are in a maze and each path we choose to follow leads to a dead end, forcing us to turn back the way we came. If you have ever been to an amusement park with a funhouse, you are probably familiar with the part of the funhouse that is a house of mirrors that needs to be navigated before moving on to the next part of the journey. As we step up to the challenge of the maze, we understand the problem and use reason or logic in choosing the right path, or process of elimination until we find the right one.

However, in a house of mirrors, there is another layer of complication, we see ourselves everywhere we look. And sometimes, we realize that as we look in the mirror, the challenge or the problem is that we need to get out of our own way and stop being our own worst enemy. We need to find the way out so that we can find the way forward.

Going through a house of mirrors forces us to look at ourselves while we are having fun, or for some people, getting frightened. We made the decision to buy the admission ticket, we made a conscious choice to enter the funhouse. That’s all fun and games, right? What about when we know we are the problem or that we have a challenge that we created? When this happens, it’s not so much fun and games anymore, is it? And sometimes we can’t even look at ourselves in the mirror, knowing that the mirror never lies.

There are a few words that receive a lot of attention when it comes to leading ourselves or leading others. Words like ownership, accountability, responsibility, setting proper expectations and building trust. These are powerful words and when applied can transform the person or change the situation for the better. When we are willing to be open and vulnerable, and willing to own that we just might be the problem, it’s the first step in finding the way out so we can find the way forward.

As my uncle Harry used to say, “There is nothing so bad that it couldn’t be worse, and nothing so good that it couldn’t be better.” I share this with you because it is not always a problem or challenge, it is also about wanting to improve at something where we are already achieving success. Self-reflection gives us the opportunity to assess where there is a gap that needs to be fixed or if it is a goal that needs to be reached. And in either case, what has our role been, what should we have, or could we have done differently or better? And do we own it?

There is a lot that has been written about the fact that we become what we think about most. We talk to ourselves all the time. And as David Goggins said, “The most important conversations you’ll ever have are the ones you’ll have with yourself.” So, if we are going to talk to ourselves, we can certainly start with diagnosing where we are, who we are and what we are, and make the changes necessary to find a way out so we can find our way forward.

Are you facing a challenge or is there a specific obstacle standing in your way? I would love to hear your story at mnorton@xinnix.com, and when we cand find our way out and find our way forward, it really will be a better than good year.

Michael Norton is the grateful president of XINNIX, a personal and professional coach, and a consultant, trainer, encourager and motivator to businesses of all sizes.

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