When I was assigned the crappy counterintelligence cases no one else on my squad wanted, I decided to be mentally tough and take matters into my own hands by submitting an undercover proposal to FBI Headquarters.
I knew if I sat there and played by the established rules, I’d never get past the roadblocks in front of me—I was both a female and a rookie.
FBI Headquarters loved the proposal because it was fresh, and different from the tired formula that had been used so many times before by the other male agents on my squad.
People approach obstacles in both business and life in one of two different ways—insight or analysis. I had used insight to find a way around the barrier in front of me.
- Insight is fluid because it is primarily based upon observation.
- Often referred to as intuition, it is the ability to be comfortable with few facts, few rules, and few constraints.
- It encourages an open mind that looks for both cause and effect.
- Allows you to see the problem in a new way, connect the problem to other relevant data, release past experiences that are blocking the solution, and view the problem in a larger, coherent context.
The insightful or instinctive method is more effective when people approach unique barriers or roadblocks and new learning is required.
- Analysis involves finding solutions through deliberation and methodical trial and error.
- It relies upon our ability to “think” or use our cognitive functions to push through adversity, problems, and stumbling blocks that are in front of us.
- It requires focused attention that follow rules.
- People who approach obstacles from an analytical point of view tend to seek out more visual information.
The analytical method of solving problems works well when there are tried and true formulas and where new methodology is not needed.
When women leaders face roadblocks and obstacles at work that can not be overcome by traditional approaches, often they need mental toughness to challenge the status quo by creating new rules that are innovative and effective.
Do not be afraid to break the rules or established ways of viewing the world. Here are 4 tips:
TIP #1 Create An Open Mindset
This means allowing your attention to wander and noticing new possibilities. You will gather a broad base of information by being curious about all aspects of your situation, not just your own interpretation of them.
Science has shown that when you blur your attention focus, your prefrontal cortex calms down. This makes it easier to ask questions like “how”, “why”, and “if.”
TIP #2 Consider Alternatives
Rigid ways of thinking about a problem, roadblock, or obstacle will not help you move out of your rut. If it was that easy, someone else would have already found a way to do it.
TIP #3 Slow Down Your Cognitive Thinking
Instead of thinking about ways to solve the problem or overcome the obstacle, spend time observing—yourself, the situation, and the people around you.
When trying to break through a barrier, carefully study your environment to see which approaches work, and which ones do not.
Since you are not re-inventing the wheel, you have the option of slowing down your thinking and take in the results of how others have overcome adversity in your environment so you can learn from them.
TIP #4 Abandon Strict Rules
Forget what you think might or might not work. Be flexible. Place fewer restrictions on your thoughts and behavior. Think outside the box!
How have you created new rules when confronted with obstacles or barriers?
© 2014 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.
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