Jake’s Tough Day at College–Part 2


A critical doer controls what is theirs to control 


I want to follow up on this story with a clearer framework on controlling what is yours to control.  Let’s face it; this is common sense and shouldn’t come as a revelation, but why then do we leave actionable items on the table that could mitigate risk, solve a problem, or best of all create an opportunity?

I’ve found that the enormity of a challenge often leaves us feeling that it is insurmountable.  In turn, we mentally apply the anesthetic of rationalizations (blame, deflection, denial, etc) that eases the pain of accepting fate rather than acting.  Here are some steps to help critical doers move forward and create something positive in most any situation.

  1. It starts with character. Just like the body needs constant exercise to build endurance and strength, human character also needs constant attention.  Invest in yourself so that action is your “spiritual default setting” when faced with a challenge.
  2. Inventory resources.  Change your starting point from the typical “what I don’t have” mentality.  Start with what you do have…sounds simple but starting with the negative will inevitable cause you to overlook or marginalize something at your disposal.  Be as complete as possible; many times it is the innocuous items or people whose contributions you’ve discounted that turn out to be the game changers.
  3. Divide and conquer. Most any problem, regardless of size or complexity, can be broken apart into subsets.  In breaking a problem apart into components we accomplish 2 things; shrink the size of the problem and illuminate a path.  You can approach this from the lens of time…what must I do to see tomorrow, next week, next month, next year.  In a less time constrained environment, you can break elements of a problem into categories.  Simply writing down all elements of a problem and grouping them by theme also helps illuminate an action path.
  4. Build a team. Never assume you’re in a problem alone.  People are generally willing to help if you (1) analytically state your problem versus emotionally dumping the work and accountability for a problem (2) present a plan (3) ask for something specific, but leave latitude for creativity and alternate solutions (who, what, where, when, why and leaving out how usually works—but have an idea for how if necessary) (4) target requests to a person/organization’s expertise so it’s feasible (5) track progress, communicate, celebrate successes (6) say thank you early and often—and one of the best ways is finding a way, unsolicited, to add value to those who helped you.

At work or home, there is an opportunity to take on a problem that has been sitting idle for a while.  You may simply make things better or create a game changing opportunity putting a plan into motion.  Give it a try and share your stories of how you took charge of your destiny and created a positive outcome.  It is what a critical doer would…do!

Updated: November 20, 2014 — 11:18 am