Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Navigating Change by looking for the Bright Spots
Admittedly, it was a bland ensemble - black "trousers" (to maintain Stacy & Clinton's love), and a sweater that's best described as, well, sufficient. But it was fine, as I wasn't at this event to be noticed - I was there to hear Dan Heath, co-author of Made to Stick and Switch (two of my all-time favorite nonfiction books) talk about navigating change.
At the end of the session, I had the chance to ask him how being immersed in the principles as he wrote has influenced his own life. His response was great. He said that the best thing he's internalized since writing this book is a commitment to "looking for the bright spots."
As he describes in Switch, we're psychologically wired to focus on bad over good. We'll notice things that are ugly, unfortunate, and problematic much more quickly than those that are lovely, pure, or working splendidly. (As he put it, "When was the last time you & one of your friends got together and said, I really want to talk about the things in my job/family/relationship that are going well so I can figure out what's working & replicated it!?)'
So one of the things he discovered in his research is that, when you're facing a huge problem or set of circumstances, one way to get passed feeling overwhelmed & helpless is to focus on whatever is going well. Ask yourself: What's working? What doesn't need to be fixed? Where are expectations being met or exceeded? He calls this focusing on the bright spots. Hidden in there are often clues to things we're doing right that might apply to other areas where things aren't going so well. So it's not just "Don't worry/Be happy." It's making smart choices about where we focus so we're more likely to see solutions.
I like that :)