I confess to a slight addiction to Hanging with Friends, Scramble with Friends and even Words with Friends. (These guys are on a roll.) The truth is when your teenage sons “invite” you to play a game – you say “yes”. This is a rare occurrence to be savored.
This game confirms something I instinctively know about how we think, but don’t always appreciate or practice. I was stumped on Hanging with Friends just yesterday. The letters I had on my screen just made no sense to me. With one strike left, I closed it sure that with one more guess my loser balloons would drop ~ “you lost” bouncing across the screen. I took a break to avoid the inevitable.
Yet, when I opened it up a few hours later, at one glance I knew it ~ “sojourn”. Of course, why did I not see this before? My brain was looking for patterns I use in other words regularly, but didn’t see this time. After awhile, I just couldn’t see the answer because I wasn’t considering all of the possibilities. The benefits of this fresh perspective after a break is a pretty common occurrence when “hanging with friends”.
Yet, this happens to us in life and work too. You know that feeling after a vacation when the issue that was keeping you up at night before you left, seems a lot more manageable after time away and some perspective? The truth is we can do this every day.
We don’t need an airplane ticket for a new perspective. Our brains sometime just need a break from the issue at hand and a chance to think about something else to see it differently.
So, after my reminder from Hanging with Friends, I plan to practice a few strategies that will help me keep perspective in my busy schedule:
- Stop and recognize when I don’t see all of the possibilities or the answer isn’t clear rather than plowing ahead.
- Deliberately step away when this happens.
- Think about something else completely unrelated, or even relaxing, to change my thoughts … lunch with a friend, another project I enjoy, or a good walk. Take a mental break.
- Come back to it after a few hours or a night away with a fresh perspective.
- Consider my options and choices and then choose the best path.
There are times when walking away is the best answer and the path to new possibilities you may not have seen before. And, there is no shame in saying ‘let me give it some thought and I’ll call you tomorrow with some ideas.”
Speed isn’t always your friend.
And, oh by the way, if you are a Hanging with Friends person, you can find me at Patti817.
Patti Johnson is the CEO and founder of PeopleResults. You can follow her @PattiBJohnson or her company @people_results on Twitter.