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Embracing a Solution-Focused Mindset


This article was originally published by Brien Dunphy on LinkedIn.


"๐ผ ๐‘Ž๐‘š ๐‘›๐‘œ๐‘ก ๐‘คโ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘ก โ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘๐‘๐‘’๐‘›๐‘’๐‘‘ ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘š๐‘’, ๐ผ ๐‘Ž๐‘š ๐‘คโ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘ก ๐ผ ๐‘โ„Ž๐‘œ๐‘œ๐‘ ๐‘’ ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘๐‘’๐‘๐‘œ๐‘š๐‘’." - ๐ถ๐‘Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘™ ๐ฝ๐‘ข๐‘›๐‘”


Several weeks ago, I met with a client facing a difficult situation. The company he had worked tirelessly for the last ten years, was recently acquired and he was being asked to move cross-country or lose his job.


With two kids only a few years away from college, less than 5 years to retirement and deep community connections, it was an impossible decision. On the one hand, he would keep his position and high salary as long as he moved, on the other he would be uprooting his life and that of his family just as he was hoping to take his foot off the gas pedal and start winding down.


He had dreamed of retiring from this company, but the recent dips in the stock market left him unsure if he would ever be able to retire at all. To top it off, his wife was unhappy in their marriage and this could be the trigger that would push her over the edge.

After working countless nights and weekends, his health suffering, and missing so many of his kidsโ€™ events that they stopped expecting him to attend, he was now at risk of losing it all. In despair, with both his work life and family life hanging in the balance, he was paralyzed with fear.


As a coach, Iโ€™m often there at the most painful moments in my clientโ€™s lives. With over 20,000 hours of coaching under my belt, I have witnessed the highs and lows of many professional and personal lives. We all face difficulties in life and business. Itโ€™s inevitable. We lose our jobs, face divorce, businesses fail, that promotion we worked so hard for didnโ€™t materialize.


We have ALL been knocked down and have a story about the way things didnโ€™t turn out. Read the news and you can see that money, power, or fame do not insulate you from pain. Even the richest and most powerful people have lives littered with problems. ๐“๐จ ๐›๐ž ๐ก๐ฎ๐ฆ๐š๐ง ๐ข๐ฌ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ก๐š๐ฏ๐ž ๐ฉ๐ซ๐จ๐›๐ฅ๐ž๐ฆ๐ฌ.


We are all alike in that none of us is immune to suffering. We are, however, different in the way we react to problems. Some of us quickly brush ourselves off, tackle the issues head on and find solutions, many times coming out better than before. We use adverse situations to propel our growth forward; learning valuable lessons and rising to the challenge. While the solutions may not have been part of the original plan, they now guide us to the next steps in our journey.


Others are paralyzed by the situation before them. When faced with adverse situations, the natural thing, the easy thing, is to complain and feel overcome by our situation. Sure, we can take a moment to be upset and grieve the situation and what weโ€™ve lost. But we canโ€™t do that for long and we definitely canโ€™t stay mired in despair. The longer we ruminate, the more time we are taking away from working towards solutions and from finding the silver lining in our situation.


Instead of perseverating in the pain, choose to adapt to the situation. You may not be able to control the situation, but you can adapt. Adaptability is stronger and more effective than control. We are more successful when we adapt to our landscapes and environments rather than when we try to control them.


There are simply just too many variables for us to even comprehend, let alone control. And even if we โ€œcanโ€ control them, we quickly discover we have far less power than we originally thought. Also, ๐‘๐‘œ๐‘›๐‘ก๐‘Ÿ๐‘œ๐‘™ ๐‘Ž๐‘ ๐‘ ๐‘ข๐‘š๐‘’๐‘  ๐‘๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘ก๐‘Ž๐‘–๐‘›๐‘ก๐‘ฆ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘ก ๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘Ÿ ๐‘‘๐‘’๐‘ ๐‘–๐‘Ÿ๐‘’๐‘‘ ๐‘™๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘‘๐‘ ๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘๐‘’ ๐‘–๐‘  ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘๐‘’๐‘ ๐‘ก ๐‘œ๐‘“ ๐‘Ž๐‘™๐‘™ ๐‘๐‘œ๐‘ ๐‘ ๐‘–๐‘๐‘™๐‘’ ๐‘™๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘‘๐‘ ๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘๐‘’๐‘ .


It is better for us to be more like a literal bridge. Bridges are built with gaps purposely designed into them to allow for changes in temperature to create expansion and contraction of the very molecules of which the bridge consists. It also allots for the reality that the land masses being connected will likely NOT consistently shift in unison.


We will be stronger if we build in allowances for the varying temperatures and shifting land masses in our teams, relationships, and professional lives. There is always a choice in how we respond. When we deliberately and authentically focus our mind on the solutions to our problems, and not the problems themselves, we create the fuel that propels us forward.


Regardless of the situation we are facing, our response is what matters. Focusing on solutions fuels us to do better, gives us vision of what could be, and moves us closer to our potential.


And remember to keep perspective. Just because you got knocked down today doesnโ€™t mean you wonโ€™t get up tomorrow. Choose the direction you want to head in, take the first step and start building momentum. โ€œPlan Aโ€ may no longer be an option, but who knows where โ€œPlan Bโ€ or even โ€œCโ€ will take you. As for my client facing the cross-country move, it took a mindset shift but he is now confidently pursuing โ€œPlan Bโ€ and doing well.

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