If you would just take yourself out of the line of fire, you will think more clearly. That's easy for me to say. Sure it's easy to say I'm not talking about taking fire at all. I'm talking about thinking and communicating. In other words, working.

Here's what I mean

Some time ago an awesome co-worker was planning a twenty-seven hour day involving at least five acts of heroism. Something like getting in early and preparing for a late-night maintenance, then travelling to another office for some meetings and then going back to finalize preparations before going home to eat and then to come back and participate in the overnight work. I think this was the plan.

I didn't come up with this plan so I wasn't invested. I couldn't understand why the meetings were important because I didn't promise to be there. It seemed crazy. So we threw out all the time-wasting stuff and made that day a little less painful.

I was certain I would have come up with the same plan.

Fine, but what about being yelled at by your boss?

I watched it happen. There was no yelling. There was a challenging question. The kind of collaborative question you'd use to find a flaw in a plan and make it better. And it was asked by the boss. The room went still. Everyone stiffened. The answers that followed were defensive, meant to shut down the challenge.

It was easy to see because I didn't draw any conclusions about where the question was leading. I didn't infer any judgment about my work. I wasn't asked.

However, I know I never saw the benevolence and collaboration in this type of questions when I was asked. I would also go on defense.

How to stand by

How do I get to the essence of this? How do I wield this super-power of objectivity? How do I take myself out of the line of fire?

I don't know.

But I think I can get way better at everything when I find out.

AuthorKevin McAllister