Just Listen

The secret to getting through to anyone, anywhere, anytime

Overcome Any Obstacle

Where there's a way there's a will

I've discovered that the adage, "where there's a will there's a way" is backwards.  It's more accurate to say, "where there's a way (that is doable), there's a will" to take action. 

One of my favorite books of the past several years and one that spells out the "way" to anyone who is facing an obstacle at work or home is: Workarounds That Work: How To Conquer Anything That Stands in Your Way at Work by Russell Bishop.

Step 1: Own It — It wasn’t a bad dream… it happened.  Accept that it happened.
Step 2: Desired Outcome — Now what?
Step 3: Control — What you can do without needing anyone else to move towards that desired outcome?
Step 4: Influence — What is something you can’t do, that you will need others to provide and a plan for influencing them?
Step 5: Response-ability — What you actually do back towards the environment after you have gone through steps 1-4.

Here is more of an explanation of the steps, but I would urge you to get the book or get it on kindle for a deeper dive.

Step 1: Own It — It wasn’t a bad dream… it happened.  Accept that it happened. It’s natural to want to go into a state of denial or to ask yourself “why” or “why me” or “how did this happen” or “how could this happen” or a variety of other responses.  It is also natural to get angry at someone, beat up on yourself for failing to prepare or go into the “black hole” of self-pity.  Again, all natural, but all things that you need to resist because they will use up precious energy that you could use on the following steps.


Step 2: Desired Outcome — Now what? Given that this obstacle or setback has just come crashing down or into you, what is the best immediate outcome (as in the next 24 hours), near term as in the next week and longer term as in the next three months and beyond that you can hope for that is not just reasonable (i.e. makes sense) but is realistic (i.e. likely to be achievable).


Step 3: Control — What you can do without needing anyone else to move towards that desired outcome? This is specifically what action can you take such as getting supplies, going to what store(s), or what shelters, etc.  This also includes your making a plan and list of what you need to get done to achieve your immediate, near term and longer term outcomes.


Step 4: Influence — What you can’t do, that you will need others to provide and a plan for influencing them. Anything beyond what you can do on your own involves achieving others to help you out.  Who are those people? What is the best way to contact them? What is the best way to influence or persuade them to help you?


Step 5: Response-ability — What you actually do back towards the environment after you have gone through steps 1-4. This is your ability to respond after you have gone through the above steps.  What are you going to do now?  And I mean right now.

Mark Goulston, MD, is the author of the new bestselling book Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone.

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