Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Which Problems Do I Want?

Recently, I spoke with the leader of a nonprofit organization who was wrestling with a decision involving one of three difficult choices. He had postponed the decision for an entire year while searching for a problem-free solution. I believe his search was hopeless.

Most of us fall into this trap at some point because we haven't acknowledged an important truth: we are going to have problems. Often our choice is simply this: which set of problems do I want?

We are all familiar with this dynamic. Do we want the inconvenience of regular tooth-brushing, flossing, and dental visits or do we want the inconvenience of tooth decay? We will have inconvenience either way, but we do have a choice about which one we experience.

Leaders and managers frequently face similar situations. Do we want the discomfort of learning how to address poor performance or do we want the discomfort of a team with poor morale and worse results? Do we prefer the pain of shifting strategies or the pain of discovering our team is no longer relevant? Do we risk vulnerability and apologize for mistakes or do we avoid taking blame and risk discrediting ourselves?

When we accept that life is difficult and we will have challenges, we are freed from the search for a mythical problem-free solution. We are free to focus on meaningful decisions.

Then, we can truly begin to lead.

David M. Dye

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Twitter: @davidmdye
David shares twenty years experience teaching, coaching, leading, and managing in youth service, education advocacy, city governance, and faith-based nonprofits. He currently serves as Chief Operating Officer for Colorado UpLift and enjoys helping others discover and realize their own potential.

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