It’s been a hot, dry summer and seeing lush, vibrant green grass is refreshing. While a welcome relief, it nearly sent me to the emergency room.

Bella and I ventured out for a walk in the woods. When we reached this patch of grass, she bucked violently and without warning. Thankfully, I stayed on, but I need to see the chiropractor.

In horse training, the mantra is to “cowboy up,” push on and ride through, show the horse who is in charge.

It’s not much different in our businesses or as members of a workplace team. Frustration and tension flares when a client or colleague negatively responds to what we think is a straightforward project or process. With deadlines looming, we push ourselves and our people to keep moving forward.

But what happens if we pause and get curious instead?

I dismounted and started looking for the issue.

My first thought—ground bees—no buzzing or biting bugs in sight.
Maybe the footing was unsafe—it was our first time on this trail.
Nope. The soil was sandy and rock free.

Then I heard it. A slight “tinging” noise sent her leaping through the air.

It turns out it was this piece of wire. Still nearly impossible to see. If you look close, there is a thin line of silver wire on the left side of the picture.

When it touched her legs, it sent her into a panic….as a prey animal, she thought she was being attacked.

With this new perspective, I understood what was driving the unexpected resistance. She didn’t get to opt out of “work,” but we moved work to a space she was familiar with.

Her reaction was not unlike emotions I’ve felt working on projects with clients, leading direct reports, or working with colleagues in situations thought I thought were clearly defined. The anxiety over the thought of a missed deadline or disappointed client overshadowed and lasted sometimes for days.

I’m still a work in progress, but now when I see subtle clues that we may not be on the same page, I stop and ask:

  • What am I not seeing here?
  • How can I change my perspective to understand what I’m missing (In the case of the trail ride, it was physically getting down to ground level!)
  • What’s at stake if nothing changes?

It doesn’t always mean that a change is necessary, it’s simply more information to build stronger relationships and a clearer picture of the challenge at hand.

What could it mean for your staff or business to get curious and seek to understand a new perspective?

How might the outcomes for a project or new business direction be different if, instead of forging ahead, there was a pause to gain a deeper understanding?