*** The following article was contributed by Kevin Knauer ***
We have all been in situations where we find ourselves asking how we got there. Why didn’t I see this coming? What did I do to deserve this? How did I end up here? If these questions sound familiar it signifies that you are currently taking a reactive approach in your life. The following five steps are a guide in order to take a more proactive outlook. With enough practice you will start seeing these situations develop and be able to put a stop to them before you find yourself in another negative situation.
1) Observation. Every interaction takes place within a specified context and environment. The act of observing an environment is really taking a third party look at the specific situation. Take everything into account, such as your physical environment, decorations, people, body language, ect. Ask yourself, “What is the environment saying to me?” Observation will lay the groundwork for which “social rules” must be followed in order to operate within a given context. For example, a work environment has a different social context than a social outing with close friends. Being around professional peers provides additional rules that must be followed in order to not get fired. However, such as in social situations, you will have access to different social tools to achieve your goals.
2) Strategic Fitness. This is a skill that must be understood and built. Every social situation provides an opportunity to practice this principle. It describes knowing which dominant strategy “fits” the situation and asking which strategy will most likely result in achieving your goals given the specific environment or context.
3) Efficient Execution. Choosing and carrying out the least “expensive” method of executing your strategy. Expensive is referring to cost, which is not only defined in terms of financial, but also can include social costs such as time, energy, or aggravation. It is up to the individual to define exactly what the cost will be to him or her in any specific situation, define what your goals are, and how to most efficiently execute your strategy.
4) Contextual Flexibility. This step refers to being able to change your environment/context when it is not possible for you to achieve your original goals in an environment. Let’s face it, The Rolling Stones said it perfectly, “you can’t always get what you want.” However, what you can do is be flexible. Specifically, having the mental agility to change to another favorable context, environment, or goal and realizing the previous objective was unattainable. In business this is referred to as a “Pivot”, or asking the question given our current assets and resources where is the next logical movement in a business model. This can also be applied to every social situation.
5) Self Awareness. Knowing your own strengths and playing to them. These are your advantages and should be “pivoted” towards given any chance, in both a social and/or business situations. Being self aware also takes into account you have done an honest self assessment, have been self-critical and you truly know and are comfortable with your weaknesses. Knowing your weaknesses will give you the awareness to “pivot” away from them since they are best avoided in any situation.