Something I have been more and more present to in my and my client’s coaching journey is the fact we are constantly looking to find THE RIGHT WAY to do something. This is present in a lot of people, specially people of my kind, pretty much intellectual, in their head, overthinking, optimizing, afraid of looking like a fool and of the judgment of others, that they could be laughed at because doing things differently.
As usual there are some benefits to look for the RIGHT WAY:
- It makes us efficient in learning and applying things quickly: we learn the rules or way to do things and then we go do our job, find solutions the same way, it’s easy, no brainer.
- It serves our need to be liked, because people like when you do things the same way than themselves.
- It keeps us safe: if you do things THE RIGHT WAY, you can’t be blamed right? And it gives a framework, avoiding to be in the unknown which doesn’t fill safe.
Now, the flip side of it, as I see it, is two folds:
- When we are looking for THE RIGHT WAY of doing things,
- It completely kills any other possibility and it kills creativity. It limits our ability to be flexible, adapt or propose new things. On an individual basis, it prevents us from finding and expressing our own genius, from being really ourselves. On a collective level, this prevents us from thinking outside the box to find new innovative solutions. Often in companies, when you ask people why they do something a certain way, they answer that it’s how it has always been done. This is a different flavor of THE RIGHT WAY which sounds more like “that’s just the way”. We don’t even put into questions how we do things and that limits our potential for improvement.
- We don’t take risks, which limits our ability to grow and improve.
- When we think we know THE RIGHT WAY:
- It triggers a lot of limiting judgment because we then tend to observe and analyze things through the filter of THE RIGHT WAY. It makes us listen to agree or disagree. Usually THE RIGHT WAY is OUR WAY and people who don’t act accordingly are doing THE WRONG WAY. And in the end, it makes relationships/partnerships/teamwork more complicated, it creates distrust and it limits our potential to find new, creative solutions (back to point 1).
- We tend to give advice based on our OWN RIGHT WAY, and that sometimes, not to say often, falls flat.
Here are some examples:
- When I started my career in the corporate world, I was very good at observing and modelling, I was making sure I knew THE way to do things and then was going to do my job, usually well. I was generally appreciated and I was safe. When I transitioned to a bigger company where I was more on my own, at first, I was wondering: “how am I supposed to do that? Tell me the way and I’ll apply it!”. I clearly lacked adaptability and creativity in that moment. And trying to find THE RIGHT WAY got in my way to find MY OWN WAY (I know, that’s a lot of “way” words). And on a collective level, I have plenty of examples in mind where each person was convinced that their way was THE RIGHT WAY, not being open to co-creating a new way.
- I learned coaching with the basics/foundations which are pretty common (except for those who are not really coaching) but then there is a bunch of different models, styles, ways to coach. And I found myself constantly trying to find THE RIGHT WAY to coach. As I learned a new approach, I was trying to only do this one, thinking it’s better than the previous one. And it’s clearly getting in my way because when I’m in my head trying to find/do THE RIGHT WAY, I’m not present in the moment and to what’s possible and this might prevent me from using what’s most powerful in that moment. So, I worked on that and practiced being in the moment, not knowing, trusting that whatever would come would be the next step to follow, no matter whether it was from one style or another, from one technique or another, from a certain person or another.
The more I can see there is no one RIGHT WAY, the freer I feel, the more creative I become, the more excited I am about the Vision for my business, the more inspiring my life becomes.
As Calvin Harris sings it: MY WAY! (I actually don’t think it has the same meaning in the song, but who cares, that song sticks in my head as a way to remind myself to do things MY WAY).
So, are you trying to find THE RIGHT WAY to do things? Are you judging others according to YOUR RIGHT WAY? What if there was literally no right way? What’s YOUR WAY?