Exploring the Intersections of Faith and Life

from July 9, 2007
Focus on yourself, not the other person

I heard about Peter Block’s book, The Answer to How is Yes, in a transformation workshop, where the consultant leading the workshop had gleaned some questions from the book that pulls the focus away from what others are or are not doing, and puts it on the leader- on you and me. He suggests replacing “how” questions with “yes” questions, such as:
NOT how do you do it?
BUT what refusal have I been postponing?

NOT How long will it take?
BUT What commitment am I willing to make?

NOT How much does it cost?
BUT What is the price I am willing to pay?

And my all time favorite:
NOT How do you get these people to change?
BUT What is my contribution to the problem I am concerned with?

All too often as leaders we get frustrated with what we might perceive as lack of commitment by others, or the slow process of change, or any number of things that we “blame” the other person for. We may get mad, we may get depressed, we may even get spiteful, which we sometimes act out by refusing to do what we are responsible for because someone else isn’t doing what they are responsible for .. and as we all know, that rarely ever gets us a result that makes us feel better!

If you have done any reading at all in systems theory, you know that when it gets right down to it, the only person we really have any control over is ourselves. That is where Peter Block comes in, because he challenges us to focus first and foremost on the person we have the most influence over – ourselves. And if we are serious about wanting to lead our churches thru a process of transformation (which never really ends on this side of death), then let’s begin with ourselves. For if we are not willing to take a hard look at ourselves and make changes, how can we ever expect anyone else to? For me, it’s a matter of integrity, as much as growth.

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