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Calling the Question June 29, 2010

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Self-Development.
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by nicsuzor cc license My business partner and I have term that we use when things seem to be going haywire. That term is ‘calling the question.”  We don’t claim that the term is unique to us but it has served us well when we have been on our way down a rat hole somewhere, about to do something that is very unproductive.(read stupid and ill-advised)

The Abilene Paradox

One of my favorite stories about calling the question or the lack thereof is the Abilene Paradox. This story is often told in business management circles to illustrate how easy it is to make a poor decision simply because you didn’t want to rock the boat. It points to a breakdown in group dynamics in which everybody chooses to ‘go along’ rather than risk causing conflict. It was first told by Jerry B. Harvey. You can check this link for the Wiki expanded version. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abilene_paradox

The story is about a family that was spending a nice Sunday afternoon together when someone suggests that they drive the 53 miles to Abilene in order to have some lunch. Somehow they all decide to take the drive. Upon arriving home they discover that none of them really wanted to go to Abilene but each felt that his viewpoint was out of step with the rest of the group. So they ended up wasting a perfectly good Sunday afternoon doing something that not one of them enjoyed.

Has this ever happened to you? All of a sudden you find yourself in the middle of some activity or project that you cannot for the life of you fathom the reason for doing it. It’s that “what was I thinking?” moment. We’ve all had them.

For the sake of what?

One of my favorite questions to head off this dilemma is “For the sake of what?” It’s a staple of ontological coaching practice and anyone who’s familiar with the work of Fernando Flores.  For the sake of what am I writing this blog every week? For the sake of what do I always choose the more difficult of two possibilities? For the sake of what am I coaching this person who has absolutely no interest in changing or growing? Those are but a few of my FTSOW’s. And mostly taking the time to call the question will help me figure out whether I’m getting any value or producing any from the activity in which I’m engaging. I’m pretty sure it would work for you too.

Try this out

This week call the question at least once a day. The for the sake of what question is a great equalizer in work meetings that have gone off the rails. And it works wonders in your personal life too. I have been able to ditch any number of projects that seemed like such a good idea at the time but then became a veritable albatross around my neck. Because here’s the deal. We all have a finite number of days allotted to us—and we don’t know how many we have left remaining. Given that, I offer that it makes a whole lot more sense to spend your time creating value for yourself and others, having as much fun and enjoyment as you can squeeze into each day, and basically producing what you want to—not what you don’t want to.

Just sayin’…..

—Amara

 

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