Most of my training has taught me to move people (and myself) TOWARDS an intended experience as opposed to away from an unwanted one.  But Rick Warren spells out an effective technique in his TED talk.  Before you do anything, what do you need to stop doing? One simple question asked BEFORE I move towards what where I want to go, I’ve found, makes a world of a difference.

For me these days, that question reminds me, as I sit down to write every evening, that I need to not spend time on things that weaken my focus on the task at hand: delivering a published product for next summer. So as I tinker and check emails and read irrelevant fb posts and  get up, crank up the tunes and dance, and  squirm every which way the way most writers do as they ease into the writing process (Paolo Coelho illustrates process this so powerfully in his latest and greatest interview), I ask myself (as I remind myself that my goal is write) what do I need to stop doing.

The answer is as simple as the question and very powerful.  The squirming process, which can sometimes drag on and on until the energizer bunny runs out of battery power, get shorter and shorter as I ask this question more and more.

The same at the office as I weed through enhancement demands vs. must have’s for an upcoming system launch. That question brings me back to my original focus.

For someone else it might be a different answer.  I am thinking of people who put the horse before the cart after meeting someone who’s company they enjoyed while dating. Getting way ahead of themselves. The answer for them might be “Put the horses back in the stable”  (read: sit down, chillax, and take  a step back).  Seems like a simple concept but I’ve seen alot of potential relationships gone awry because of the this.

Or the person who  eats their emotions, or worse, doesn’t eat to numb emotion.  For these people, the answer might even be clearer “I need to feel”.  Or course this isn’t always easy to do, we haven’t always developed the resources to deal with our challenges.  But what this question does is create a moment of increased awareness before moving forward.  In that moment of increased awareness there is space for choice. It won’t FIX everything, but it allow for increased possibility for change.

“I need to get some help”

“I need to take a step back”

“I really need to sit down and just start typing and the words will come and before I know it I will be completely absorbed by the writing process”


I was reluctant at first, “Why do I need revisit what I don’t want to do?”  Because sometimes, we’re not even aware of the offending behavior.  One simple question kills the autopilot.


Try it… let me know how you love it!