Winter Driving

“I don’t like winter.”

At least that’s the story I’ve always told myself.

Last year, I escaped winter a few different times for work, and it made the long season manageable. This year, that ain’t happening. Winter 2020 has just begun where I live, and I’ve been dreading it.

But I’ve had a small breakthrough. I’ve realized that winter isn’t the problem. Winter driving is. It causes me stress. I don’t like wondering if I’m going to be able to get somewhere, or how long it will take, or if my less-experienced-driving kids will be safe in the snow.

This year, that stress is mostly gone because no one’s going anywhere. I hardly ever drive anywhere right now, and neither do my people. As a result, winter’s not that bad!

When I help groups make decisions collaboratively, one question I invite them to ask dissenters is, “What’s the smallest change that would make this proposed path forward acceptable to you?” Can you hear the difference between that question and a jump to a completely different option?  It creates space to tinker with a solution to make it even better.

When we’re under stress, we have a tendency to pull too many levers at once or over correct (think winter driving: we reflexively crank the wheel when we start to slide). COVID life has highlighted that pattern in organizations that have “pivoted” too often, leaving their people confused and exhausted. Try small course corrections instead. More targeted modifications. More detailed stories that serve you better.

“I don’t like winter driving.”

(I also don’t like being cold, but that’s a story for another day…)

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