Lead Your Life

Leadership, Awareness, and Growth

How Valuable is Conflict? Amazingly So. July 12, 2011

What would change for you if you could instantly reframe every source of conflict or constraint as an opportunity? 

Instead of:  We don’t have enough money to invest in that endeavor.  Insert: We know with certainty that this investment will create breakthrough results for our business.  What options for funding exist to make it happen against our timeline?

Instead of:  I tried to negotiate better service levels but I hit a brick wall.  There’s nothing else I can do.  Insert: My supplier has to date refused to take our relationship to the next level, and so I know I have not yet understood how they evaluate our relationship and what creates value for them.  How can I discover what options exist for a win/win?

Instead of: My peer & I always argue about this problem and the likelihood of someone changing their mind and conceding is low.  Thus, it will always be a point of conflict between us.  Insert:  My peer & I have an opportunity to collaborate together to turn this problem area into an area of true strength for the business and for each of us.  How can I engage them in this dialog versus arguing about the issue?

Instead of:  My days continuously get eaten with urgent issues and constant requests from others even though I know I need to focus on more strategic opportunities.  I am working endless hours, am stressed, and can’t make any headway on my business plan.  Insert:  What I am doing currently isn’t working.  What 5 options exist to create space in my calendar each day to do the most important work? 

Every day, I hear people talk about what they should do, want to achieve, or wish was the reality.  Every day, I witness conversations between people with different perspectives and instead of valuing those differences, they treat it as conflict.  Every day, I witness people experiencing unnecessary stress because of how they think about something. 

How we think about something is a CHOICE.

What changes if you practice seeing the opportunity?  Get curious about the win/win?  Engage others from a place of possibility?  What changes if you gently lead your peers in identifying where they are spiraling downward in thought versus exploding upward? 

It all sounds easy.  But the reality is that conflict and constraint are highly emotionally charged.  And once our emotion surges in the form of anxiety, stress, anger, frustration, worry, or irritation, it’s hard to stabilize, return to center, and then cross over the line to curiosity, engagement, optimism, passion, and joy.  It’s hard, but not impossible. 

And because no one performs well with their back against the wall, it’s imperative.  But most people will never practice developing this skill.  This is a skill that doesn’t come more easily to some than others…  It’s just a skill that some people are highly committed to building & nurturing. 

When you encounter someone who practices it, you’ll know.  They’re the superstars people love to work with.  They’re the ones who initiate the next frontier for a team or business unit.  They’re the ones who stay focused on the win/win when everyone else is stuck in what’s not working. 

They’re the ones who treat challenges as a thrill because they know that within lies the seed of possibility.

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