8 Ways to Stop Putting Out Fires

Have you ever met someone (or been someone) who used the phrase “putting out fires” regularly for, let’s say, 10 years?

I’ve definitely been in this mindset of “putting out fires” at seasons of my life.

Until I got tired of it.

And started asking myself: How am I setting my life up so that there are constantly fires?

I decided to hold myself responsible for the fires. NOTE: Not because it was necessarily “true” - but because it is more resourceful to see the world this way.

Seeing myself from a place of ownership allows me to see things I haven’t seen before. Here is a bit more about that and how to create a new system in your life with fewer fires.

  1. Choose an ownership mindset. I.E. Stop using disempowered phrases such as “I need to go put out some fires.”

  2. Utilize curiosity to explore and wonder about “if I am creating the fires, how am I doing this?” - and then write out 10 bullet points of how you might be creating these fires.

  3. Get clear and frank feedback from people close to you (ask them to be 100% honest with you) - and ask them how you might be creating the fires.

  4. Invest 2 hours pulling all of that data together and pull insights from it.

  5. Implement the insights by creating commitments and actions to take.

  6. Follow through on your commitments.

  7. Do a “lab analysis” (like Chemistry class in high school) - ask yourself:

    1. What worked?

    2. What didn’t work?

    3. What could I continue to experiment with that might get new results?

  8. Repeat all of the above steps on a regular basis until the fires are gone.

When Life Becomes Transactional

I’m not exactly sure where to start with this post, though I think it is an important topic as I see it quite often when working with clients.

People seem to keep life in a space that I find best described as “transactional.” What I mean more clearly by this is people attempt to keep some things at a distance and thus keep their emotions out of it completely.

The main issue with this shows up with the reality that we are (all of us) deeply emotional beings and many times situations call for us to be emotionally connected to what is happening.

Often I find people get overly transactional when they are attempting to avoid feelings or emotions that they label as painful or vulnerable. Hence keeping things at a distance - we don’t know how to sit with our pain and vulnerability and see the great strength in it.

I wonder what would happen if we learned to embrace emotions as they come. To honor them. To take care of them. My current metaphor for this would be to imagine the best dog ever. The dog that is well trained. It is clear that the owner is in charge of the dog, and not the other way around. This would be juxtaposed with the dog that runs away all the time, jumps on people, and slobbers all over you (regardless of how perfect a dog the owner swears this dog is).

Most people are afraid their emotions will be like the latter. They can’t control them and so it is best to keep them in the kennel.

But imagine that we train ourselves to be connected. Not only to our own emotions, but also to the emotions of others. The happiness and the sadness. The joy and the grief. Through all of the seasons of business and life.

5 Tips for Handling Conflict With Honor

Let’s pretend a conflict is happening between 2 people. I am person A and the other person is person B.

  1. I must first and foremost be committed to treating person B with respect, honor, and curiosity. This is my responsibility. I must take ownership for how I am thinking about person B and the conflict.

  2. If I approach the conflict as person A PLUS person B versus the conflict itself - that will be much more resourceful than seeing the conflict as person A versus person B.

  3. I must remember to keep the overall vision in mind. I must do the homework ahead of time to get clear as to how I would like the conflict to go and request that person B do the same. At the beginning of the conversation - it is helpful to share this to see where there is overlap and where there is disagreement.

  4. I must remember to go the "final 10%” as I refer to it. I must be willing to share with transparency, curiosity, respect, and honor - what it is that is actually going for me. And I must ask person B to do the same with me. (From my experience - this is something that dramatically increases the success of the outcome of the conflict).

  5. When sharing my final 10% - I must remember to orient it to the vision of person B. This assumes I have done my work in understanding person B’s vision. If I know person B’s vision - that helps me contextualize the conversation and feedback towards anything that I think might get in the way of person B achieving their vision.

The Origin of the word "Worry"

Recently I have been putting an extra emphasis of focusing my thoughts on the future and the future I want to live into.

Part of that process has been for me to notice when I believe thoughts or entertain thoughts that aren't a part of my desired future.

For example, recently I decided to study the concept of worry (so that I could find antonyms of the word in which to redirect my thoughts). 

The word "worry" was in part developed from the concept of "to harass by rough or severe treatment (as of dogs or wolves attacking sheep)."

So, after understanding in more depth, I then went on to explore antonyms and I found this: calmness, certainty, cheer, comfort, confidence, happiness, joy, pleasure, sureness, trust, unconcern, advantage, contentment, peace, reassurance.

If we can choose to focus on either worry (wolves attacking sheep) or joy, which will we choose? 

If you could consistently shift your focus to joy, would you want to know? 

CEO of your Life

I hired a new coach recently. His name is Jon Roberts. And he had this idea.

We would treat the coaching sessions like board meetings.

For the period of our coaching (6 months), we were to focus the board meetings on the growth of the revenue of my company.

My coach, Jon, would be the Board of Directors, and I would be the CEO.

If you are familiar with the Enneagram Assessment, I most identify with characteristics of an Enneagram 7.

Setting up the coaching like this was just what I needed.

Enneagram 7’s typically have a tendency to struggle with the details and disciplines of running a well-run business.

And so, Jon, knowing me, knew that for me to focus on the details would be a good stretch for me.

We are only about 6 weeks in, and the results are beginning to shift in many ways and I’m beginning to see the gaps in my “business.” I’m beginning to see some of the details of my business where I am leaving value on the table.

And the weird thing is - I’m starting to fall in love with the details quite a bit.

INSIGHT: When you get really ultra clear on the details - it will expose the gaps, blindspots, and weaknesses of your business and/or life.

Therefore, I’m seeing all of these gaps. It has been challenging, but also so so helpful.

I read this quote recently: “Only the disciplined are free.”

And I’m finding it to be more true than ever.

I’m becoming a great CEO of my business and life and choosing to enjoy the process.

And I think Jon is enjoying pressing in on the details (as any chairman would), along with advocating for me in ways that few people in my life ever have before.

I’m grateful.

If you treated your life like you were a phenomenal CEO and had an incredible Board of Directors - what difference would that make for your life?