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Famous strategy fails No. 6: “Don’t give me accountability, give me strategy!”

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WHEN I’M NOT BUILDING STRATEGIC PLANNING MUSCLE IN INNOVATIVE ENTERPRISES, EXTREME ADVENTURING WITH MY HUSBAND THOMAS, OR ENGAGING KIWIS IN POLITICAL SOLUTION-FINDING, I TEACH TEAMS AND INDIVIDUALS TO FUNCTION AT A HYPER-AWARE LEVEL THROUGH #ACUITYHACKS.

 

 

Ah, this thing of being human. Recognizing our own complexity as organisms, many of us operate under the assumption that our lives need also be complicated.


If you grew up with that assumption then of course all the coping and success structures and strategies you developed – and presumably maintain as an adult – are constructed to overcome a complicated environment.

 

But if you look through a lens of acuity you can see that, in any moment that you’re doing something intentional, your behavior can be described simply as expanding or containing.

 

*Expanding* behaviors are those that bring you closer to your life’s ideals; they promote growth, lightness, freedom and fulfilment. *Containing* behaviors are the opposite; they either maintain the status quo or increase your sense of heaviness, frustration or despair.

 

Take a moment to ponder: could life really be this simple? Understandably, it’s something of a wrench – if not entirely destabilizing – to accept that your most fundamental belief about life may be mistaken.
 

So if you disagree with my logic, seriously: drop me a line in the comments. I’d be delighted to hear your thoughts and tease the subject out further.

 

Meanwhile though, since you’re here, let’s look at what you can do with this information. After, that is, you get over the wrench ... (take as long as you need 😜)

 

Acuity hack No. 3: do the math.

Humans are rational creatures. We all act out of self interest. And we’re always looking to maximize the benefit of our (re)actions while minimizing the costs.

 

It’s just that, in the absence of acuity, we’re seriously terrible at assessing the costs and benefits, which means we frequently act against our own interests.

 

The acuity approach is to do the math. And because acuity runs on simplicity, the Best Interests Equation isn’t complicated. It looks like this:

 

Rr = A{Br  Cr}

 

Where r is the reaction, and:

  • Rr is the result of the reaction;

  • A is the degree of acuity applied

  • Br is the benefit of the reaction

  • Cr is the cost of the reaction

 

Let’s break it down using a true-to-life scenario. Sam criticizes Chris for leaving the kitchen a mess, again. Chris feels unfairly treated, having worked late and, exhausted, whipped up and eaten a late meal before dropping into bed. Had it been Sam who worked late, Chris would’ve had a meal waiting.

 

r

Autopilot Chris blows up.

 

Br

The benefit of an angry reaction is that Chris gets to vent without having to filter; be ”right“ and make Sam ”wrong“; manipulate, dominate or control Sam; generally abdicate responsibility.

 

Cr

However, there are costs: to the harmony of their relationship, to their respective emotional health and wellbeing, and to the personal growth and development of Chris as an individual, and to the ”entity” that is their partnership.

 

Br – Cr

My assessment of this scenario is that the costs of Chris’s reactions outweigh the benefits, so that part of the equation is in the negatives ...

 

A

... however, there’s no acuity going on here, so a negative multiplied by zero equals zero.

 

Rr

Chris and Sam maintain a cycle that serves neither of them.

 

You may have your own assessment of the variables. The point is that, whatever our reaction to a situation, there’s a benefit, a cost, and a result.

 

Still, it takes some serious skill to bring self awareness to stressful situations.

 

Our minds get scrambled by uncontrolled emotion, hence the reflex reaction. But our bodies evolved over millions of years to deal skilfully with stress, so building the skill to react in ways that promote your wellbeing starts with getting out of your head and attuning yourself to your bodily responses. An increase in heart-rate, heavier breathing, raised voice ... (I always feel my face heat up) – your body will always tell you when your emotional equilibrium has been tripped.

 

The moment you can recognize your physical responses, you’re aware enough to break out of the cycle of reflex reactions and make effective use of the Best Interests Equation.

 

Take the kitchen-in-a-mess-again scenario: an acute awareness of the true costs of blowing up, and how dubious the benefits, would have given Chris a vested interest in replacing a habituated, containing behavior with an expanding one.

 

Be less like Chris. Do the math.

 

P.S. If you’re wondering what flowers and bread have to do with this post, I invite you to continue exploring the possibility that life is far simpler than you’re willing to believe.

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