February is over. Published statistics tell us if you are among the majority, the hope for solving a problem through resolutions made on January 1 has dwindled.

But how could honest expressions of real intention made by intelligent, well-meaning, and goal-directed people dissolve into nothing more than fleeting regret and sheepish embarrassment?

The answer may surprise you.

Resolutions are nothing more than the restatement of rehashed answers to old questions—hence re-solutions, driven by new re-solve. The barrier to success is not the intellect, information, and innovation that went into coming up with the solution.

The problem is—the problem!

After years of coaching performance improvement initiatives and leading change within the healthcare industry, I’ve seen this play out over and over.

We discover the barrier to our success within the actual problem to which we devote our time and attention. We fail to accomplish our resolutions (personal, professional, health-based, or otherwise) because we keep trying to solve the wrong problem.

Attempting to re-solve the wrong problem occurs because of two things:

  • Failure to ask the right questions
  • Failure to use the right mindset when inquiring

Failure to Ask the Right Questions

Asking any question to ourselves and others is a tricky thing because it may trigger discomfort. At times, questions are packages for statements. Consequently, when confronted by inquiry, a cascade of internal questions may begin before we frame our response. What if I don’t know the right answer? What if I look stupid? What does everyone else think?

Fear becomes the self-limiting motivator as we settle for managing an image based on the status quo, never delving under the surface to find our richness and potential. We often resign ourselves to asking and answering the wrong questions—which at best, produces incomplete solutions.

I intentionally framed the title of this article as a question. My intent is not to trigger insecurity, although my question does encase a statement. My purpose is to generate introspection that facilitates positive, real, and lasting growth—a process that exceeds any quick and easy response.

Here is the key takeaway:

                       The questions we ask ourself and others drive the solutions.

Keep asking easy, surface level questions—and you’ll get quick and common responses. The trouble with stopping at this level is that we never gain the real traction necessary for positive and sustained change. The tragedy is that we end up stuck as we go through the motions of improvement, despite a lot of busyness executing the quick and easy solutions of the day.

Asking deeper questions is the key to asking the right questions. And while it may not be the easiest, most comfortable route, it frees you from being trapped in the same old cycles of ineffectively trying to solve the same personal or professional problems.

Understanding root causes are the key to implementing the right solutions. As we dive in and explore the root system of personal or professional performance, we find an underground complexity that either supports vitality, resilience, and growth—or we find an unexplored web of the unknown and root issues based in fear.

Failure to Use the Right Mindset

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Most business leaders have read and heard a lot about mindset over the years. After all, The Power of Positive Thinking was released by Norman Vincent Peale back in the 1950’s. The concept has been expanded through countless programs, seminars, and presentations from many other motivational professionals. Lack of information is not the barrier to a healthy mindset.

It’s the dearth of transformation that impedes lasting progress. While a motivational event or book may deliver information and inspire us to think positively at the moment, it rarely produces real, sustained change. Why?

Transformation is an inside-out job that unfolds in a process. It’s not a quick fix.

Our mindset is our inner psychophysiological state packaging emotions, expectations, memories, beliefs, values, and attitudes. It’s a complex personal root system often grown on the fear-based thinking we developed early in life. Fears that whisper, I am not enough…I am not loved enough…I don’t have enough.

When fear-based beliefs are the supply to our root system—we do what we need to survive, unable to thrive, unwittingly trapped by an unhealthy mindset.

But there is an alternative.

The THRIVE Mindset

So what intentional process changes can we make for the purpose of growing inner health?  How can we develop the insight, strength, and confidence to ask the right questions?

I’ve developed the following framework for my clients and hope the six key components briefly overviewed will also enrich your mindset and help you gain clarity. I based the structure on the acronym, THRIVE.

In the future, expect additional articles expanding each component. But for now, I introduce the process below and suggest you answer the corresponding questions to help you explore beneath your surface.

T  – Thinking Critically

Critical thinking is becoming a lost skill. Far too often people have been taught what to think, not how to think. Numerous factors are involved, but we must become good problem-solvers to contribute in a meaningful way.

  • Do you regularly pursue possibility-thinking or stay stuck in what is?
  • When you explore possibilities, does your mind jump to, “We tried that, and it didn’t work?”     

H  – Holistic Strategically

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You are more than what meets the eye. You have three parts to your being: body, soul, and spirit. To operate in wholeness, all three must become integrated.

  • Do you regularly nurture and tend to the health of your body, soul, and spirit?
  • Are the majority of your goals focused on the physical body and its existence?

R  – Resilient Emotionally

The key to bouncing back after hardships that trample, compress, bend, and stretch us is our root system. Flexibility in the face of change is mandatory for health. Rigidity or rigor mortis is a symptom of death.

  • Are you at peace with the fact that nothing is permanent in this life except change?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how do you rate your emotional health?

I   – Identity-Based Operationally

Knowing who you are is crucial. Defining your identity with false indicators and unhealthy comparisons leave you unfulfilled and scared. You’ll feel like an impostor as you engage in personal and professional relationships if you don’t know who you really are.

  • Are you confident you’re living fully in the potential of who you’ve been designed to be?
  • Do you ever feel afraid of letting people get to know the real you?

V  – Victory-Oriented Motivationally

A participation prize is not the same a the reward of victory. Victors have accepted the reality that life contains a series of battles, and with each is the opportunity to rise as a victor—or assume the position as a victim.

  • What role best describes you personally and professionally?
    • Victim – you blame others, make excuses, and deny personal responsibility for your actions.
    • Victor – you own your decisions and actions, understand accountability, and accept the responsibility to positively impact this world with a purpose uniquely given to you.

E  – Extraordinary Foundationally

People would rather be wrong than be different. But a thriving life is one that exceeds the norm. Blending in as average may feel safe temporarily, but satisfaction with mediocrity is toxic to a life of vitality.

  • Do you want to live an extraordinary life personally and professionally?
  • Are you applying unconventional wisdom to root issues?

Let’s quit trying to solve the same wrong questions with fresh re-solutions! 2017 is the year to do something different and gain different results.

Achieve the personal and professional advantage you desire.

Be exceptional—learn to THRIVE.