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Reclaim Your Hijacked Mind for Work Do-Overs


There’s not a lot of black or white in leadership. At times, you have to reconsider decisions already made, processes implemented, or opinions formed. Leaders often feel frustrated or exasperated with the time or effort lost, and the opportunity cost of other work not getting done. These emotions can diminish the effectiveness of your second go-around before it’s even begun. Is there a way to get into a healthy mindset and up your odds of success?

Fortunately, there is. Give your mindset a tune-up by following these steps:

  1. Pause and take heart. Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel. Identify your emotions and why you are triggered. It’s human.

  2. Evaluate what matters. Name the values that are bringing you back to the situation. What will you gain? Use the things that matter to you to help dissipate emotion.

  3. Reframe from “problem” to “puzzle.” When you approach issues as puzzles to solve, it frees up creativity and mental resources. When you see only problems, your brain is limited to surviving not thriving. Remember, you’re not a victim of circumstance; you’re initiating excellence.

  4. Choose rigor. Seek what Jim Collins calls “the brutal facts.” It’s especially important to be tough on yourself, in part because it’s so easy to let yourself off the hook. Move from assumptions to questions. Find both facts and opinions, especially input that bucks your bias.

  5. Create a safe environment. While being tough on yourself, be gentle with others. Be honest, respectful, and humble. Tell them why you are revisiting and what you hope to gain. Let them know how vital their point of view is and invite their participation.

  6. Get in touch with your own resilience. On the road to mending fractures, you may uncover views that sting. Know at the outset it will happen; when it does, remind yourself you expected it. Maintain your positive intent and don’t “beat up” any team member, including yourself.

When I was a kid, my grandmother gave me a magnet that read, “Don’t let success go to your head or failure go to your heart.” Corny but apt. The steps above help keep your mindset on an even, healthy keel when revisiting what’s been done.

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