I was working with a guy who is top leader of his organization the other day. He said he was frustrated because he kept having great new ideas, but the team around him wanted to pin him down on detail stuff, build structures around it… you know the type: Visionary guy, doesn’t like structure. Maybe that’s you.
“How do you feel about that?” I asked.
“Like they’re putting me in prison! Building it right around me!”
Fair enough. So I asked him to bear with me on an odd line of questioning, and he agreed. “How’s your eyesight?”
“Next time, I have to get bifocals,” he said. I laughed, because that’s what they told me last time I went to the optometrist. “But your glasses work okay? You can see fine?” He said he could.
“How well do you see peripherally?” I asked. “Pretty good, I can see to the sides,” he said. “Can you see things clearly out here at the edge, where your glasses aren’t?” “Not so good,” he admitted. “But you can turn your head, so it’s all right,” I said.
Then I re-framed the situation for him. I said, “You know, if I was from another planet, and I came to earth, and I saw people walking around without glasses, and then I saw you with those on, I would wonder why this guy has built a prison around his eyes.”
The stunned look on his face made my day. It totally stopped him in his tracks.
It was a creative, fun way to re-frame his situation. Pun intended. Of course, re-framing is all about helping people see things in a different light. Another pun… ugh. I can’t get away from them now.
If you’re a visionary, those administratively-gifted people are the eyeglasses for your organization. They give focus to everything you can see and have been talking about for years. Sure, you can see it with your eyes closed. But you have to paint a picture, and your people have got to be able to stay focused on it for a while, even as, in your own mind, you begin to dream about new things. Great ideas come to you all the time, but great builders have to allow their team to see it, and allow their team to keep looking at it through the lens of structure, administrative structure. With details and everything. They need you to focus, too. They need you to wear your glasses, because you’re driving the car.
Now maybe I mixed up a whole bunch of metaphors in a melting pot. (I guess that’s America.) But I think you get the point. The structures that feel like constraints actually help us and our team see and focus. When your team can do that, they can build something around it. You may feel stuck in the middle, but everyone’s going to benefit.
I’m happy to chat with you. I can help you re-frame things, too. Feel free to shoot me a message. [email protected]