When we are faced with the proverbial “fire” to put out, what is our typical response?

The fires, which are forms of controversy, conflict or things just going wrong instinctively spur us to action, just as if there were an actual fire we would immediate move; call 911, grab the nearest fire extinguisher, get the kids out, etc.

In business, the nature of our response is dependent on our attitude or frame of mind at the time. If we go to a place of, “Oh boy, here we go again” or “Just when things were going good” or “If so and so could just do such and such we wouldn’t have this problem,” then we’ve thrust ourselves into a reactionary mode which constricts creativity.

Our creativity becomes constricted based on our state of worry, frustration, dread or resentment. These emotions are unpleasant which drives us to attempt to change conditions so we can feel better, which leads to reaction and response.

What if on the other hand, we can accept that things will just go haywire from time to time, mistakes will happen or balls dropped. If so, instead of immediately responding to conditions so we can feel better, we can ponder for a moment more creative approaches. If we can stay in a more lighthearted frame of mind we can draw upon our creativity to either solve the problem, help another to solve it, turn it into a positive, or just let it happen and do nothing.

Perhaps the best response to the fire at hand is to doing little to nothing, and instead to focus on the underlying conditions that enabled the fire in the first place. This would represent a long-term approach, and might sound like a subtle difference, and in many respects it is, yet it’s also very simple; be lighthearted towards your work and know that the world gives us challenges all the time. As Mother Theresa once said, “Life is a challenge, meet it.” To go a step further, I would say, “Meet challenge with lightness of heart and mind.”