The One Thing Missing from the Advice You’ve Gotten from Me

Thinking Tools

If you’ve been reading my blog, or my website, you’ve read about a lot of processes and procedures you can use to help get your mental wheels turning when you’re feeling overloaded, or conflicted, or doubtful, or otherwise not sure what to do. They’re great ideas. Believe me, I have used every one of them, and seen others use every one of them.

There’s just one thing missing: you only get the value from using the tactics. If you don’t use them, they’re not helpful.

So here’s some meta-advice, to apply both to what you read from me and to what you read from others. If you discover an interesting technique that seems useful, test drive it. Take that one idea and be a fanatic about it for three days. Use it 3-4 times a day, for several days, to see how it works, and especially, how it works for you.

This is how I develop every tactic I teach. I read about it, or hear about it, or make it up, and then use it like a fanatic for several days until I have seen it be effective again and again, figured out why it worked, and decided to keep it in my toolkit for the future.

For example–I made up the AND List technique because I realized I was in conflict and I needed to “hold all the values with care.” It’s a cross between Improv (which teaches you to use “Yes, and” rather than “but”), and NVC (Nonviolent Communication), which teaches that you can be in conflict and still value both sides of the conflict.

The details of the instructions came out of experimenting with it many times over several days. For example, the first step is to write “I am ambivalent,” because that makes it easy to get started. Or another example, the “AND” is in capital letters because when you’re in conflict, it’s cathartic to shout virtually.

In the classes I give, I can stop the class, and ask everyone do an individual exercise to test drive the tactics. 98% of the people who attend will try it. Most of them will find it helpful. (Typically, I do the exercise at the same time, and I find it helpful!) If they don’t find it helpful, they can ask questions.

You’re reading about tactics, here and there. It’s up to you to try them out. Try it, you’ll like it.


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