LeadU presents Problems Solve Us; Message-Lesson-Problem-Crisis


Problems Solve Us; Message-Lesson-Problem-Crisis

"The torture will continue until morale improves."

Caught this quote this morning…

It was in the context of government doing what it is doing… And I remember writing back in 1989, an expose about healthcare, at that time, I was coaching in healthcare, and just beginning to learn to know that the safest place was NOT in a hospital… e.g. the quote.

I wrote that the only way we could solve the healthcare problem was to get rid of the intermediation, and it’s still the same metapattern…that causes most of our maladies.

To the extent that we can sleep away from the problems, the problems will get bigger.

Call it the pressure prompted syndrome, of people who on one hand, have short time spans whose time spans are not concerned about the near and far future, but now, and on others whose spans are longer, to lose touch with the present.

This set of tensions makes it possible for problems to become big enough that eventually they tip the scales and force solutions, the problems solve us, as I remember Kegan and Lahey writing in their book, How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work.

We just don’t do problems beyond our "fish bowl" well and until the problems get big enough to cause bubbles, we don’t pay attention to them.

You think we would learn, but we don’t.

The problems we have today in our institutions, in our lives, in our relationships are all similar and derived from the same meta pattern I’ve described.

Until the tension gets high enough, the problems don’t solve us.

I’m often reminded of a TPOV I wrote for coaching back in the earlier days of Coaching Edge, 2001, more than a decade ago, I started writing for free, hehe, based on the notion that if you put a lot of stuff out there for free, people would get to know and love you and then buy. OMG, what a stupid idea, I think i have more free content on the web than other other coach out there, and it means nothing really, so much for that assumption.

Helpful Hint:

[Keep in mind, this is Mike Jay 1996, hehe] In any case, here’s the helpful hint for this TPOV, encapsulated in:

“The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but
whether it’s the same problem you had last year.”– John Foster Dulles

A friend of mine and I were having a conversation one day. I had been relating to this friend how I felt inadequate in really assimilating aspects of learning into my own "complex adaptive human self." The issues that kept coming to the forefront were familiar, but I was unable to get my arms around them enough to really assimilate them into my being.

After I related this to my friend, she said "are you familiar with the interaction model that relates varying levels of “notification” (message, lesson, problem, and crisis) to increasing amplitudes of challenge (she didn’t really say it that way, but I heard it like that<G>)?" Of course I said "no", as was being demonstrated by my inability to fully comprehend my inadequacy in dealing with re-occurring challenges. My friend explained the issue to me.

Here is my rendition of the model:

The message…

When we receive a notification from the environment, it often comes subtly and without much fanfare. It arrives as a nagging issue, an intuitive flare or a difficulty. In this phase, it is a message. If we are asleep and unaware, most of the times the message earns the right to return because we failed to take appropriate action—either to eliminate it, prevent it or change the course of events that created it in the first place. People with high levels of awareness become “tuned in” to these messages and respond accordingly.

If we fail to respond to the message, we’re given a lesson…

At this point, we become much more aware of the intensity of the issue and its impact. It becomes necessary to “deal” with what seems to present itself as a learning opportunity. Again, if we are unaware or overlook this “opportunity”, we find ourselves in concert with the old adage of “history repeats itself.”

The message becomes a problem…

In business systems we relate to a message as a problem signal. Often we deal with the problem signal as a singular event outside of the context. In this state, we often increase the probability that more sophisticated levels of problem resolution will be REQUIRED. If the problem is not dealt with, it brings about the fourth level of environmental door knocking and this time it usually takes down the door, part of the house and everyone standing close by!

Crises and firefighting…

Even to those in deep sleep and totally unable to “notice” the first messages, crisis clearly identifies subsequent lessons and ensuing problems, as it brings down the house. This is normally associated with destructive change in business. In the first three levels of notification, we can usually avert destructive change and by using generative methods, we can fashion individual, group and organizational responses that eliminate, prevent or solve the issues before reaching crisis stages.

It is almost as if the problem created at one level of awareness can’t be solved until a new level of awareness brings it fully into view as a requirement/crises. Remember what Einstein said: "A problem created at one level requires a solution from a different level". Who knows, perhaps what is happening in the message/lesson/problem/crises model is occurring naturally to produce such a condition of awareness.

Action Step: Coaching & the opportunity to test the model. Ideally, in the coaching interaction, we create the opportunity for the client/subordinate to “sense” the environmental issue at the message level. When clients/subordinates are unaware of these messages and certainly the subsequent stages, we find our interactions often steeped in an issue that has occurred and, in some cases, re-occurred again and again. You eventually stop waiting for people to learn, and just scaffold this, but I think it’s helpful to see the four levels of behavior, and tension that exists in problems solving us scenario.

Comments: The coach can be extraordinarily valuable at a time like this, not only in testing for the probable course of events, but helping the person being coached to orchestrate solutions that dive as deep into the issues as necessary to prevent the destructive change likely to occur with an ensuing crisis notification. This model is very effective at drawing our attention in the interaction to a recognition of a message growing into a full-blown crises if left alone. Awareness of issues that can likely repeat themselves means helping the client explore ways in which to deal with the outcomes in a systemized fashion.

In our personal and business relationships, we often experience the same cycle until it drives the us from our circle or causes us to change and begin a new generative process of awakening. When we become more emotionally intelligent, we begin to notice the first levels of difficulty and seek to remedy them before their natural course of remedy, crisis, arrives, or not, because this notion occurs @BS from Mike Jay 1998 @BS. In the 15 years since, I have decided that the noise of self, keeps us from hearing and experiencing the observation of this noise as signal, and it’s better to have someone scaffold you, rather than relying on the LONG WAY, because the high road for most of us out of our fish bowl of experience is in fact, a LONG TIME, as well. Moving @F-L-O-W, we immediately notice the "pattern" and test it, and move to scaffold quickly.

I’ll leave you with this poem:
Repeating Lessons

Lessons repeat themselves over and
Over again in our lives.

Until we take a look at the cause
We can expect the same people and
Situations to show up over and over again.

The faces and circumstances may seem
Different, but they will be revealed as the
Same lesson in the final outcome.

Let us take a hard look at the dis-peace we
See in our lives, identify the source of the
Repeated patterns and decide to see what
Old beliefs we still hold sacred.

Once we understand that our faulty thinking
Is what keeps us in repeated misery we can
Alter our thinking and recreate a new way to
Live in joy.

This time of year and especially this year is
An excellent time to adjust our thinking, and
Build new relationships and new experiences
Based on Love.

©Copyright: John McIntosh and Jo Ann "Ananda" Polito

Here’s another wonderful example of the same scenario in a different vMEME:
The Four Ways Of Knowledge

…Someone tries to teach us.

In childhood, he calls us

Each day to remember

one or two things only.

I remember I fell

one Sunday from my parents’

car, I saw it leaving

me on the road, going.

My parents do not recall it.

If we ignore that, he

waits till we are asleep.

opens the images, borrows

faces, turns men to turtles–

I dreamt that I sat

in a chair, and every other

Second I disappeared.

But what if we lose the dream?

Then he starts to do it

on his own, books fall

open to a certain passage,

two strangers in one day

speak the same sentence.

The telephone rings after the funeral.

Insubstantial molecules turn

heavy, become tennis shoes.

If we still don’t

take in the knowledge,

then he turns to accidents,

diseases, suffering,

lost letters, torpid sleeps,

disasters, catatonia.

We walk, the glass

mountain opens, we fall in.

I usually ignore the other

three, and learn by falling.

This time we live it,

And only awaken years later.

-Robert Bly

The Man In The Black Coat Turns

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    Mike R. Jay is a developmentalist utilizing consulting, coaching, mentoring and advising as methods to offer developmental scaffolding for aspiring leaders who are interested in being, doing, having, becoming, and contributing… to helping people have lives.

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    Leadership University

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