Two Questions for Breaking Gridlock

I’ve been thinking a lot about stalemates this week.

Specifically, who should give in and when?

Obviously, we want to be steadfast as leaders – but at what point does being resolute cross the line from something admirable into something bullheaded and counterproductive?

I mean, we barely have to scratch the surface of history to discover all-too-well and all-too-painfully what happens when we don’t get along.


I could go on – and you could too.

We’ve each had a front-row seat for egregious cases of uncompromising behavior – in others and in ourselves.

The question is how to handle it.

In mindfulness training, one of the phrases I’ve heard again and again is “examine your intentions.”

And so in looking at times when we have refused to budge, it seems to me the underlying intentions are preservation of self and / or winning.

The problem, of course, is revealing those as true motives.

For starters, none of us would actually admit we’re only looking out for ourselves and – second – EVEN IF that was the true intention, we may not be aware of it.

After all, the subconscious is a tricky beast.

It’s what causes us to react versus respond, emotionally eat, get lost in busyness, and other mindless self-sabotage.

Why would hiding intentions be any different?

This is where strategic questions come in, starting with “Who are we here to serve?”


Next time you’re disappointed in an outcome or locking horns in the conference room, throw this one on the table and what you’ll discover is that A-players can answer it with considerable detail.

That’s how they became A-players.

Another question I use in stalemate situations is already well-known – and for good reason. It works.

Would you rather be right or happy?

So simple.

So brilliant.

So perfect for instantly figuring out if winning is your driver.

Actually, if we really want to break gridlock, we’d forget winning altogether and focus on the highest good.

Sound Pollyanna?

Given all we’ve seen lately, it’s surely the most strategic course we can take.

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