This is the third in a 3-part series providing an overview of each of the questions contained in “3 Vital Questions ™: Applying the Power of TED* to Work and Life.”
Two weeks ago, we covered the 1st Vital Question: Where are you putting your focus?, which highlighted the Victim and Creator Orientations. Last week we explored the 2nd: How are you relating?, in which we overviewed the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) ™ and TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic) ™.
In this third and final Vital Question, we put it all to work by asking:
What actions are you taking? Are you merely reacting to the problems of the moment or are you taking creative action (including the solving of problems) in service to outcomes?
Having a process or structure to support the change you want to make will help reduce your tendency to revert to old habits that can work against you. If you don’t have a method or structure for taking action, your good intentions may fall flat, and what you want to create may become another drama-filled DDT episode.
In the 3rd Vital Question you start by circling back to the 1st one: What is your focus and desired outcome? Once you clarify your desired outcome, you have a map that points you to your destination.
On the creating journey it is equally important to tell the truth about where you currently are. Once you establish these two points—-your desired outcome and your current reality—-there is a polarizing, energetic force between these two points that we call Dynamic Tension.
Robert Fritz first described the basic process as structural, or creative, tension because there is literally a physical, as well as felt tension in the gap between what you want (vision) and what you have (current reality).
An important aspect of creating outcomes by harnessing Dynamic Tension is to “tell the truth” about current reality—-both what is going on that supports the outcome, and that which is getting in the way or inhibiting progress (including the problems that stand in the way).
When you feel this Dynamic Tension in the gap you have a choice to either:
- Collapse and fall backwards reverting to your old DDT habits or;
- Leverage the energetic tension to propel you forward toward what you want to create.
The secret to creating what you want is learning to “hold the tension” in the gap rather than allowing it to overwhelm you. Like the kite that harnesses the wind to propel it upward, human beings can learn to harness this tension to propel themselves forward.
When tension does arise, it is common to want to rid yourself of your uneasy feelings. Rescuers may jump at the first solution to fix the situation, all under the heading of being helpful. Persecutors will find a way to compete, blame or be right to control the tension. Faced with tension, people with a Victim mentality will give up easily, believing they won’t get what they want.
The pressure to know all the answers or to have everything figured out before you take the first step actually works against the creating process. That is the magic of Baby Steps! By taking just one step, you learn, adjust and take another step as you go along. This seeds the creating process and helps deter your old drama patterns.
Creating is an ongoing, incremental learning process. Letting go of having to have a comprehensive plan before you get into action allows you to move forward by “holding the tension of not knowing.”
What we know from experience is that every time you take a Baby Step, one of three things will happen:
- Forward Progress – You take the step and it moves you forward;
- A Step Back – The step you take is a mistake or does not produce the progress you had hoped, from which you learn, adjust and take the next step.
- Quantum Leap – You never know when a Baby Step may produce a breakthrough that would never have happened had you not taken the step.
A simple way of remembering how to take action in service to outcomes is through what we call the TED* 3-Step “dance” of Creating, by asking yourself:
- What do I want?
- What do I have and
- What’s Next (Baby Step)?
By harnessing Dynamic Tension, you will be taking creative and generative action—-including the solving of problems—-in service to your envisioned outcomes.