I remember sitting in my very first Conflict Analysis class, and the professor asked everyone to name what words we associate with conflict. Everyone started generating words, such as: pain, fear, anger, aggression, losing, uncomfortable, etc. You get the idea. All of the words were negative. When I have done this exercise with clients, I receive pretty much the same response. Why is this? What is conflict? According to Merriam Webster, a conflict is “a struggle for power, property, etc.” So, basically it is a struggle; whether it be a struggle within yourself, with a project, or with another individual. Humans typically frame a struggle as something that is negative and has no opportunity for being positive. However, what would happen if we changed our perspective and looked at struggles or trying situations in our lives as opportunities?
When you look at struggles as negative, you are only seeing the win/lose possibilities. By framing a situation in a more positive light, as a chance for opportunity, you are opening your mind for a learning experience. You are exploring how to be creative, finding the best solution, and moving forward. Looking through the lens of winning or losing limits the possibilities we have. By looking at struggles as an opportunity, you are expanding your frame and creating opportunities for win/win or both/and solutions. Brainstorming becomes much more creative because you are open to new ideas, and are not immediately saying no to possibilities.
As you think back on your career, what were some of your shining moments? I’ll bet that if you look back, it is when you were able to work through a struggle. It is usually when you have worked very hard for something, and let’s face it that isn’t always easy. It is a struggle. But when you are able to turn a struggle into a positive experience, life is good. You have reframed your struggle into opportunity. The struggles you have experienced have value. Being able to reframe struggles to create positive opportunities is a beautiful skill. Leading Harmoniously isn’t just an ideal. It is a set of skills that you are working on every day, and you are setting the frame for being a healthier leader.