How long have you been banging your head against the same brick wall?Nov 27, 2021
Ask these questions to break through and move forward – today
Hitting a brick wall can happen at any point in life and in your business lifecycle. I’m not speaking literally, of course, but rather as a visual analogy. It happens a lot. And it can reoccur a lot too.
When I work with business owners, they are inevitably at the stage of facing a brick wall – whether they realise it or not.
If you can relate to this, you may already have the answer to bulldozing the brick wall to overcome whatever challenges it poses. Fist bump to your resilience if you do, well done. If you’re still trying to resolve getting over or through the brick wall, then you’re in the right place because I’m going to share a few techniques to help you blast through and move forward.
Start by asking questions
Brick walls are constructed for many reasons. Sometimes the cause of the brick wall is out of your control, but the effect it has will always be in your control – including its levelling. Despite this, dealing with the brick wall to achieve a positive outcome is often the part that many business owners struggle with.
Asking questions assists in demolishing brick walls. However, they need to be the right kind of questions to avoid hampering the creativity needed to find a resolution.
Debriefing the situation by asking questions helps to gain clarity before moving forwards. The questioning process removes emotion from the problem, creating action that focuses on the practicalities. Consider the following questions:
- What is happening?
- What is working?
- Why is it working this way?
- What isn’t working?
- Why isn’t it working this way?
- What have I learnt about the brick wall and the situation created?
- What have I learnt about myself?
Brick walls are obstacles that get in the way of achieving your goals. Something that is blocking your way to achieving what you want will manifest negative thoughts, feelings and emotions. Getting emotionally involved will only cloud your judgement and cause distress. The brick wall won’t get distressed, but it may get higher if you give away your power to it! Visualise what I’m saying here…
Think about the brick wall in simple terms. It’s an obstacle and obstacles can always be removed or bypassed. You just need to find the right way. By detaching from the irritation, anger and frustration (whatever emotion you feel in the moment), it will be easier for you to visualise a way to circumvent the brick wall, break it down or jump over it.
Delve deeper into your questioning strategies
Clients often say to me, “But how do I do this, Cassie?” Confusion and uncertainty are a consequence of feelings and emotion. My clients don’t know what to do for the best because they are focussing on the upset and frustration and not on the end goal of defeating the brick wall. They are not looking beyond the brick wall.
The answer always lies within you. Clearing your mind of the emotional fog will enable you to see, hear and feel ways to tackle the brick wall.
Everyone has a path of least resistance. We choose this path because it’s easier and causes less tension. This meeker path is usually one that doesn’t solve the problem. Sometimes it may resolve the issue in the short-term but only as a temporary measure.
Finding a permanent resolution comes by delving deeper and asking the right questions. Following a questioning cycle will help you to uncover the foundations of how to remove your brick wall instead of chipping aimlessly away at the surface.
The cycle goes something like this:
- Why – beginning a question with ‘why’ clarifies the purpose or driver for what it is you are doing, for example, “Why am I doing this?”
- What – beginning a question with ‘what’ opens up your thinking, for example, “what do I want to achieve?” “What are my options?” “What is my next step?” “What is my starting point?” “What is the outcome I desire?” “What is the strategy?” “What is the idea?”
- Who – ‘who’-based questions help you to get resourceful, for example, “Who is this for?” “Who is my customer?” “Who can help me?” “Who is good at this or an expert?” “Who has done this before?” “Who can I model?”
- When – ‘when’ questions help with implementation and clarity of deliverables, such as “When will this be delivered?” “When will I receive XYZ?” “When do we move to the next stage?” “When did this happen?”
- Where – similar to when questions in terms of implementation and deliverables, ‘where’ questions give clarity, for example, “Where is the customer?” “Where do we deliver?” “Where will they find XYZ?”
- How – beginning a question with ‘how’ can help with the measurement and review of something or someone, for example, “How will we know we’ve done a good job?” “How did we do last week?” “How do we measure the output?” “How do we measure success?” “How do we measure client satisfaction?” “How will we know when we’ve reached our end goal?”
The questioning cycle can be repeated if necessary to find a resolution. It’s super simple to apply in any situation, from devising new concepts, planning alternative solutions to thinking more broadly and critically. It can even be used when working with others and at home with your partner, children, parents or siblings.
Find the right questions for you to be in ‘flow’
You will find that one of the questioning styles brings a better outcome for you and your situation. You will respond more favourably to who, what, when, where, why or how because of your personality style and how you identify with a specific set of beliefs. Understanding the best questioning style for you will keep you in ‘flow’ and focused on the end goal. Reframing the same question five times, each starting with one of the five questioning key words will gain a better response from different personalities – try it on your close friends or family.
For example, if you find yourself stuck when responding to a ‘how’ question, test out the other four questions. I guarantee you’ll find the brick wall will start tumbling down when you find the right questioning key word.
If you are unsure about what this means, or think there might be a quicker way, reach out to me and let’s identify your preferred style. You can contact me by clicking here to send an email.
‘Be’ before you ‘do’ and then ‘have’
If you hit the same brick wall over and over it’s because you are doing the same thing. The same thing that failed before. It’s a flawed approach because something needs to change to improve the outcome. If something isn’t working, it needs changing.
In this instance, it’s helpful to review how you are showing up to the brick wall. Who are you being? How you choose to be will always determine what you do and the results you have.
To help explain this, imagine that something happens at work and it causes you to fall behind with your project. Maybe you miss a deadline or need to postpone a meeting. How do you feel and act? Are you calm and proactive in sorting out a solution? Or do you get angry, irritable and upset, blaming others or beating yourself up about why you are in this situation?
If that same darned brick wall keeps appearing, then who are you being and what are you doing that is causing it to materialise? What are you repeating that brings about a less than optimal outcome?
Imagine you have the outcome you want.
- What would you have to do to create the outcome?
- Who do you need to be to do what needs to be done?
- Where do you need to be?
These powerful questions highlight repeating thoughts and actions that are not serving you well.
The stumbling block is thinking that when you have what you want, you can then do something different to gain the optimal outcome of being happy. It never works this way. Instead, everything must start with your being so that your behaviours align with what you want.
The concept can be tricky to get your head around if you’re used to thinking and acting out the process of having, doing and being. Most people think and act in this way because it’s the way they’ve been conditioned since childhood. But you can make a change – and it’s easy once you know how.