Situation-Propose-Conflict, an all too common occurrence today.  Whether it be on a personal or professional level we find ourselves continually challenged by our mere existence under continual attack.  There are choices, we can avoid the conflict by retaining buried our proposal to a situation; we can propose and prepare for conflict or we can better understand the situation in order that we act appropriately.  It’s not just about others understanding the value that is often buried in the ‘proposal’ but also appreciating the spirit in which it is being offered.

I have a multi-cultural family and I often find that by sharing my beliefs I create conflict.  What starts out as good intentions often results in them being viewed as criticisms to which they cycle starts on a defensive tone.  So the question is how do you resolve it.  I can tell you this, old habits die hard and this is especially true for those that have a mindset that takes you from point A to point B.  Over the last several months I have been thinking about this, all the while continuing my direct and purposeful A-to-B mindset.  It came to me a short while ago that my message is being lost because I have failed to answer, for myself, why does this situation exist and how can we reach a common purpose.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s what the children watch,  joint planning on events (I almost said ‘important’ but there again that might also be questionable whether we are on the same page of thinking) or deciding on what to eat.  So what is it that I am really trying to achieve?  All the while I am thinking that I am preparing them for the future, for a place in a global society, when in fact I am possibly doing more damage by not allowing them to find a place in their own culture to grow from.  In this regard I am, in a round about way, inferring that their culture has problems to which I want them to avoid.  But in doing so I am not only isolating them, but also depriving them of growth and development.  So the hard pill that I need to swallow is to permit growth through experience and only intercede when disaster would be eminent.

Now let’s step forward in the context of business and the innovation/startup culture.  Over the course of my working career I have been blessed with advising hundreds of individuals and businesses.  From CEO to newbie, from global companies to incubator driven startups the same condition exists.  In various regions of the world the fact of age, race and nationality give you a certain privilege of attention.  With this gift comes a responsibility to exercise the same care and acts that are expected of me as a father.  It’s not that a foreigner knows more by comparison, its about the person having more experience and exposure to the world outside.  However, this all is lost when the message (Propose) meets the Situation that ultimately leads to conflict.  It’s not always visible it is often cloaked in silenced, fueled by buried emotion that later erupts in major conflicts.  To guide means to permit experiences to occur, to intercede when hazards are eminent but to counsel in such a way as to answer the question of ‘why’ are we doing this.  It’s far more than being a mentor, a guide, or a coach… its about caring enough to eliminate conflict (and unproductive and wasteful act) for the sake of situational improvement.  Therefore, as I have observed in myself and the acts of other mentors (guides or coaches), we need to stop and answer in our own minds the question of ‘why’.  But, we can’t stop there we must also totally understand the value and possible conditions that our decision to engage plays in the overall outcome.   I recently was involved in mentoring a group of startups.  Many were still in a formative and conceptual stage.  There were many things they needed to do, situations to consider, options to exercise and directions to go.  It would have been far to easy to start firing off lists that they needed to act upon.  Instead it was far better to look at what they had done and build upon this than to dismantle the house for the sake of one loose brick in the foundation.  What I observed was a remarkable transformation in outcome both in terms of progress as well as reach a basis of possible potential in these grassroot businesses.  Sadly however it isn’t without having a level of mortality.  In retrospect, I ask the question of why did a couple fall out of having interest?  Was it because of the message or was it something else?  Upon closer examination it was the direct result of readiness of their enterprises, they were barely a concept and therefore all they saw is barriers and not the light on the other side of those barriers.  At the same time the message became the barriers and not the solution.  As I have often said, whenever we have a condition we own 50% of the outcome and with that I take total and complete ownership.  How should I have reacted?  It goes back to being a father, it goes back to finding out how they see their situation and asking what they need to move ahead.  I should have done that rather than take them from zero to 100 in a series of direct and specific steps.  They weren’t ready for step two let alone step one hundred.  The years and the miles of experience brings about opportunities but they also bring about knowledge.  I plan to use this knowledge and my continual self-assessment to serve with a high degree of respect for the role I play.  Its not a role driven by the story line of others but driven by the unique realities exist.  The path, steps and speed of others are only a resource and not a template.

Beware of the SPC (Situation-Propose-Conflict) condition.  Culture is not bounded simply by nationality it is also a situation created by beliefs.  Understand why, determining need and maintaining a healthy observance of goals is mandatory.  Goals are important but at the same time they become a distraction on progress.  Require them but permit them to become realized organically and not through measured acts enabling progress.

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