The right sort of trouble…

Conversations are at the heart of what we are all trying to navigate right now. Conversations about what we’re noticing, feeling and thinking because none of us knows, and that’s OK. Template solutions are as potentially disastrous as they are attractive, but there are no quick fixes. We each have to find our own way with the help of others.

I think one of the challenges is our relationship with trouble. We put it into the same category as risk, and our business processes mark it down as “avoid”.

I thought about this yesterday in conversation with John Kuzava, who can always be relied upon for a fresh perspective that makes you think. His comment that “We need places where we can get into the right sort of trouble”, resonated. He’s right. We have become so averse to risk and trouble, of being blamed in organisations that say they love risk-taking but condemn failure, that we often take the east route through – the Iron Law of institutions in action—doing what is safest for us, not suitable for the business.

We need to get into the right sort of trouble – situations that challenge us and force us to learn and adapt, but that won’t irrevocably damage us. Challenges that bring out the human genius in us, not the cold hand of process. Problems that, when solved, make us feel alive.

It’s all too easy to witness people and companies out there right now who demonstrate all the attributes of learned helplessness. Founded in lack of trust, it is endemic in most large groups. Why would we expose ourselves to trouble and learning when only success is applauded?

Perhaps the best way to get into the right sort of trouble is in conversation with people we trust who have nothing to do with our work. People with whom we can stretch our ideas to breaking point without the risk of being sent off. Testing our thoughts beyond our comfort zone and finding out what they are really made of. The ideas, and ourselves, come back more vital for the experience.

Whatever else you do this week, find somewhere to get into the right sort of trouble because it will make you stronger when you encounter the wrong kind.

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