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Who Are You Listening To?

I once worked with team who had to choose a new software solution to support a key business process. Although the implementation was not of great scale, the impact operationally was. The business owner was a fairly new leader. She worked alongside another leader who was her mentor and had extensive business and leadership experience. They were trying to decide the best technology partner to use for the new solution and they had a short time to implement. The new leader after much research and discussion with multiple providers, wanted to choose the less expensive, small but seemly experienced provider. The mentor wanted someone with whom they had experience with, was a large industry presence, and more expensive. After much debate they went with the less expensive provider. Unfortunately, the solution didn’t meet the expectations, the vendor couldn’t supply all that they agreed to, and ultimately this created a hardship for the user with the solution deployment. So, who was right and who was wrong?

Neither of them! Why? Because they both thought the only alternative was to choose a specific new software solution. All of their investigation never questioned whether there were alternatives to the particular model they wanted to deploy. The new leader told me that they thought that the mentor didn’t think their experience was valid. The mentor thought their extensive experience warranted choosing their vendor. They both got stuck until one gave in. As the project manager for this initiative, I easily accepted their feedback and expertise. After all they were the business owners. Right approach? Not at all. But we’ll get to that later.

Thought Bubble Cloud by Viorika on Canva

According to an article from 2020, humans have an average of 6200 thoughts per day. (Murdock, Newsweek; Tech and Science, July 15, 2020). You can do the math but that’s over two million thoughts a year! I’m exhausted just thinking about it! We have the ability, throughout our lifetimes to listen to many sources for guidance. Our parents, family, friends, teachers, classmates, co-workers, leaders, team members, and the list goes on. Think about the information we receive from books, podcasts, social media, television, and a myriad of other sources that inform our brains.

Our brain’s take it all in. We have the ability, even if we don’t consciously realize it to process and synthesize the information to be compared and contrasted to our experiences and then used to guide us. Our thoughts and experiences plant seeds. As human beings we take the information and even if we don’t decide to take action just then, will evaluate against experience to consider it when needed.

As human beings we can’t get away from to our thoughts, others thoughts and the thoughts generated by our experience. The real question is which thoughts should you believe? According to author Don Miguel Ruiz in his book The Voice of Knowledge, maybe none of them. Because our thoughts are just that, thoughts, and they may not be rooted in fact, could be coming from a past experience that may be blocking us, another’s experience that may not serve us, or even our judgement thoughts about someone or something. So, in the midst of all of that thinking, how do you figure out what or who to listen to?

Thermometer by Comstock on Canva

How are you feeling? No, seriously! This isn’t a health question. Evaluate how you are feeling as you think about options. What thoughts are creating which feelings? With each, ask yourself, is that true? If the feeling of the thought doesn’t serve you and there’s not truth in it, you can choose to shift. To shift, consider how to support what is true and feels right.

Let’s use the example above. It wasn’t true that the new leader had to make the decision to be considered valid, nor was it true that there was only one path to a solution. So as a project or program manager, how could I have helped the team take a close look? Through awareness and curiosity. Listen for assumptions and limiting belief statements. They include statements like “I can’t, or I won’t”. “I should” is also a great indicator. Validate and acknowledge people’s experiences, but then get curious. I might have asked something like, given all the time and money in the world, how might you solve this differently? Then based upon the answer dig into what’s possible.

We think, we feel, we act. (Energy Leadership: Transforming Your Workplace and Your Life, Schneider, Bruce D, 2008). You can identify the feeling, validate the thought, and then act in your best interest. Get curious and ask what if? Listen for limiting language queues. If you listen closely, how much more effective can you be in your work? How much more peace in your process? How much more collaborative with others might you be? I know this may sound very simplistic, but the point is to create awareness for you, and then to allow you to explore what works for you.

Finally, remember, it’s a journey and we’re all human. Giving yourself and others grace to learn, explore and become aware is a great gift!

As a project, program and process improvement leader with 25+ years in the corporate world, I know that it’s truly those who lead in the moment, help drive the revenue, satisfy the customers, and create the opportunities for business to succeed.

It’s why I created Origin Coaching. To help those in cross functional and informal leadership roles, including project and program managers, create success because they are able to lead others, up, out and through to intersect purpose with path. Coaching is often available to the executive leadership team to drive results; my passion is to help their teams drive those same results by provoking purpose.

Are you interested in understanding the impact that individual or group coaching could have on you and/or your organization? Check out my website at or email me;

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