‘Tis the season to watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas, so a blog about Whoville seems timely. Plus I love it when a book makes a simple but potentially life-changing point.
That happened for me this week with Dan Sullivan’s new book, Who Not How. Rather than asking yourself, “How can I achieve this vision or address this problem?” how might it change your approach to ask, “Who can help me reach this goal or solve this problem?” Can you hear how that switches the issue from occupying mind space in your head to taking up residence in someone else’s? (Ideally, someone who is far better equipped to find a solution than you are?) Your job becomes casting a compelling vision of the desired impact rather than figuring out the path to get there, then recruiting skilled help.
The power of this approach was brought home to me soon after reading the book. (Don’t you find we often learn something by seeing its opposite?) It occurred twice in rapid succession. In the first case, I was working with someone who had skilled Whos in the room, but was so stuck in figuring out the How herself that she did not access their expertise. In the second, the person was so tense about an outcome that she tightened her grip on the process to get there, despite not feeling confident about that process, which made it worse. These experiences reminded me that it is not enough to surround ourselves with capable Whos. We also need to be willing to take full advantage of their superpowers. Let those who know the how figure it out. Isn’t that what we’re craving anyway?
How often is a solution right in front of us, yet we fail to see it because we are too busy fretting about the problem?
Stress over the high stakes of an outcome can cause us to hold on too tightly to the path to get there. Releasing our grip can feel counterintuitive, but there is freedom to be found in doing so. Better results, and considerable relief, come from surrendering the How to competent Whos.