How you ask questions reveals a lot about the paradigms you lead from and the fundamental intentions that inform your approach to life. Do you focus primarily on solving problems and just making the current circumstance better? Or do you approach what is happening from an attitude of discovery, seeking out hidden potential and possibilities – a new future that is waiting just beyond the current horizon?
In other words, do you lead from a problem-solving approach or a potential-based approach?
When leading from a problem-solving approach, you start with a specific outcome in mind – what you want to accomplish – and set out to make that happen. While you may indeed accomplish your goal, the potential for what can happen is limited by what you can imagine based on the confines of your current circumstance. You might make things better, stretch the boundaries of the current conditions, but you will most likely continue to operate within the same basic story.
However, when leading from a potential-based approach, you start from the perspective that every challenge is masking an opportunity. Every problem is trying to show you something that wants to work differently. Every conflict is inviting you to a new level of relationship.
In Transformational Presence work, we say, “A problem is not something to be solved; it is a message to be listened to.” We recognize that whatever is in front of you at any moment has something to show you. There is a hidden message or a potential waiting to unfold. There is something that wants to happen. As you discover that potential, it becomes your next creative partner. It will show you not only what wants to happen, but also each next step as the time is right. The potential will show you the way.
This approach may feel counter-intuitive at first because it’s not what you have been taught. However, discovering the hidden potential opens new flows of energy and possibility. Try it. Instead of focusing on solving a problem or getting to a specific result, follow the potential and let it show you what wants to be created. The outcome will nearly always be more than you would have achieved if you had remained focused only on solving the problem.
Leading from a potential-based approach begins with transforming the kinds of questions you ask. For example:
“What is the biggest problem you face?” becomes “What is the greatest potential waiting to unfold?”
“How do we fix it?” becomes “What is the message that is trying to get through?”
“What are we going to do?” becomes “Who is this asking us to be?” When we get clear about who the situation is asking us to be – what qualities or characteristics it is asking us to embody, what role it is asking us to play – the strategy and action steps become clear.
“How do we make it happen?” becomes “What are the best possible conditions we can create so that the greatest potential can indeed manifest?” Transformational leadership is not about making things happen. Transformational leadership is about creating the optimal conditions that allow the greatest potential to unfold.
We’ve been well taught to solve problems. Yet there is so much more available to us if we press pause on “fixing it” and focus first on exploring the hidden messages and potential hidden in our current realities.
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