Ah-ha’s can be used successfully

Many of us experience ah-ha’s. As a result, we may develop a more positive attitude towards our jobs or clients. We might undertake an uncharacteristic, proactive role in resolving an issue or we may simply see a former blind spot that was getting in our way of being an effective leader. Too often, we realize we sincerely want to change and utilize our new insights. We say we’re going to do something. But unfortunately, we never do.

What’s an ah-ha or insight? Usually it’s an intuitive moment that has no real objective basis. It can be fleeting if we’re unaware. For example: You attend a seminar and suddenly realize you have poor listening skills. The challenge is follow-through. Even though you might write it down, it is forgotten come next week. Or you might remember it but don’t take any actions in a timely way to reinforce it (Think: maybe on Monday I’ll start to use my new listening skills. But by Monday nothing is farther from your mind.). These insights can disappear quickly if we don’t take concerted action. Paradoxically, it does no good to take action too quickly, without the reality of a focused action plan (e.g., decide your boss is the wrong one and quit).

It’s a three-step process. Too often we believe our ah-ha’s are the event! The end of all our current problems. We become “navel gazers” and simply wish to revel in the good feelings. Then, we get upset when that ah-ha disappears, or stops providing the difference it did when we first recognized it. First, understand an ah-ha is simply the start of a new journey. We don’t know where it will eventually lead. Second, put together a focused action plan. It’s not recommended that you submit a letter of resignation without having planned for the reality of being unemployed. Don’t restructure your department at work believing it will end all of your problems without taking into account all the ramifications a restructuring brings. Third, take action on your plan, step-by-step, after talking with your coach or boss to assess the details.

Share appropriately. We’re so excited by our new revelations. We tell everyone and insist they do the same! Unfortunately, it’s a great way to lose credibility at work, particularly if you’re the boss. Respect the fact that others may have a different view of your ah-ha, and it might not necessarily be a positive one. When sharing, share what actions you’ve taken and the difference it made for you. Do not insist others should have the same experience or perspective. They rarely do.

Balance human insights along with the more objective factual ones. The secret is to ‘try on’ your ah-ha immediately. When you buy a new coat or hat, you ‘try it on’ first. For example: ‘Try on’ the idea of being self-employed or living somewhere else. Talk with others first. Find out the realities (e.g., no steady paychecks, must be able to sell your product or service via human interaction, no friends or family close by, subtle cultural differences, etc.). There is no magic bullet in any new venture. It will take work. For more personal attributes, realize your old habits can be difficult to break, no matter how destructive they may have been. Consciously work with your new insight for 21 days. If that seems too confronting, take 20 minutes per day. Be open to fine-tuning with your coach or boss. Together, develop plans to build for future successes (e.g., join a community Board, be a team lead on a project, learn a new skill in accounting or human relations, etc.).

Putting your ah-ha’s into action can make a long-term difference!

©Jeannette Seibly, 2011

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