January 08, 2020
A Story of Shifting from Frustration to Energy
Let’s kick off this new year with a story:
Maria heads a county department with 500 employees in over 20 locations across a large, western U.S. county. Every month, she visits each of those locations.
“This one team makes me absolutely crazy. They’re constantly sending me emails about all the things they are angry about. I was dreading having to deal with them.
Because of what I’ve learned at Creating the Future, I’ve been starting all my meetings by asking what our team members are excited about. Even as I tried that with this team, I was certain they would snipe back with something nasty.
I was so wrong! Everything changed with that one question. Every person talked about how excited they were about the programs they were running. They talked about the people who come in to ask questions, and especially the kids who use our services.
In that one moment I realized… they weren’t being difficult. They were excited about the potential they saw and felt frustrated about not being able to achieve that. From that one short conversation, everything about how I think about that group changed. Now I keep thinking, ‘We are going to do great things together!’ ”
We say it a lot around here: When we change the way we see things, things change. And the fastest route to changing that perspective is through the questions we ask – of others AND ourselves!
Whether you are at a networking function, a board meeting, a family gathering, a staff meeting – wherever you will be with other people - ask the question Maria asked.
What are you excited about these days?
What is going on in your life that has you excited?
Why this question? Because it unleashes people’s energy. And there is no better way to kick off a new decade than that!
The more you practice routinely asking this question, the more you will begin creating that energy wherever you go, opening the door to what people care about. You can see why this practice is one of the first steps in Catalytic Listening – one of the three core practices of the Catalytic Thinking framework.
Resources to Support Your Practice
These resources will help you exercise your listening muscles:
- WATCH: Watch any of Creating the Future’s strategy meetings and you’ll see us beginning every meeting with this question. Click this link for a whole range of meetings to listen in on!
- LISTEN: In just 3 minutes, Creating the Future fellow Nancy Iannone shares some great questions that help you listen more attentively to those around you – and yourself!
- LEARN: This introduction to the 3 Core Practices of Catalytic Thinking talks about the power of listening for what is possible.
Want to learn alongside other people who are also trying out Catalytic Thinking practices? Join our Catalytic Thinking in Action community on Facebook - a welcoming place where you can ask questions and learn from people like you who are experimenting with these practices. We look forward to seeing you there!
Help Keep Our Programs Freely Available
Most of the programs at Creating the Future are free or low cost, with liberal tuition assistance when they aren’t.
If you find our programs of benefit, we hope you will consider contributing, to help keep these programs available to as many people as possible. Donate here ...
If you’re new to our eJournal, or just want to remind yourself of past practice exercises we’ve shared, check out our eJournal archives here.