Breakdown to Breakthrough

Change can often be the catalyst to breakdowns before we breakthrough to the change we are trying to create.   When I coach, I help clients break down problems to get to the root cause.  The breakdown allows for a breakthrough in coming up with solutions.   Years ago coaching gymnastics, when a gymnast was struggling with a fear of a new skill, I took a lot of time up front breaking down the skill in smaller parts, having the gymnast repeat each part until she felt secure in her ability and then adding the next part.  Breakdown to Breakthrough. 

I’ve witnessed this process of breakdowns to breakthroughs with individuals, teams and whole organizations.   In organizations there may be breakdowns of systems and processes, (physical) or breakdowns of communication and culture (emotional) – and until the organization embraces the breakdown-they won’t get to the breakthrough.  How exactly do you embrace a breakdown?

When your car breaks down, you take it to the shop, they take it apart and call you with the diagnoses.  In all breakdowns, you need a ‘shop’, a positive support system that will help to identify the issue.  Do you have people that you can call on when the going gets tough?  When there may be a need for confidentiality? You may have a work tribe and a personal tribe.  You may have a professional tribe-people who are your advocates but not necessarily in your industry.  There is a question coaches like to ask, “who or what will support you?”  This is a great question for us as individuals, and can also be asked to teams, groups and organizations.  It is important to have advocates, people who look out for our best interests and where we can go if a breakdown happens.

When we take the car in, we don’t just hand it over.  We usually have a list of what’s happening laced with our frustrations that it happened at all.  I was on a driving vacation when my car broke down twice.   The first time was an easy fix-I needed a new tire.  The second time, not so easy and boy was I frustrated.  Waiting for the tow truck, I unloaded on my partner all the frustration.  After spewing on for some time, my partner said, “are you clear now?” Having a positive support system allowed me to clear in order to better focus.  Clearing-put out in the space frustrations, concerns, expectations, what’s important, what’s at risk, anything, even seeming minuscule that may be blocking or creating blind spots.  Clearing can be healthy or unhealthy.  Clearing with a positive support system to serve moving forward is healthy.  Clearing to complain for the sake of complaining is not healthy!

Having a positive support system, a ‘shop’ that will allow you to dump the breakdown and clear all the emotion around the breakdown will lead you to the final step to a breakthrough which is to seek wise counsel.  Someone who will help you pull back the layers of whatever is broken down.  Wise counsel will ask provocative questions, reflect patterns they’re seeing, give advice and feedback.  Wise counsel is the auto mechanic that calls you with a diagnosis and what needs to be done. 

If you are human, you will experience breakdown.  These three practices; having a positive support system, clearing, and seeking wise counsel are the foundation of moving through a breakdown.  Keeping them in place, will support fewer breakdowns.  Watch for our next blog, Breakdown to Breakthrough to What’s next?

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