Mary-Jane Kingsland: The importance of sharing a problem

PUBLISHED: 17:55 26 June 2012

Mary-Jane Kingsland, of the Coaching Collective. 
For: Elaine Maslin

Mary-Jane Kingsland, of the Coaching Collective. For: Elaine Maslin

I was fortunate to be invited to the launch of a new initiative for business leaders this week.

Entitled PB Entrepreneurs, a select group of company directors, entrepreneurs and partners meet quarterly to share knowledge and experience. This is a new group for Norwich.

We were encouraged by Nick Mayhew, of Price Bailey, to share three key issues which caused us concern, distill them down to just one and then, in open forum, invite solutions.

The afternoon culminated in a case study of one particularly intractable issue, carefully chosen for its importance and impact on one participant’s future business.

As it happened, the people in the room came up with a bevy of remedies, all of which had considerable merit and artfully demonstrated how creative we can be when we put our heads together and think about a problem that is not our own and conversely, how stuck we can become when we wrestle with a problem by ourselves.

We established that the issues which cause us the most stress are commonly held; they are not unique to us and yet we often treat them as if they are; the old adage, “a problem shared is a problem halved” was never more true.

It got me thinking how it makes complete sense to share insight and best practice between businesses and enable a think tank of experience that can dispassionately resolve the apparently unresolvable.

By dispassionate I do not mean the absence of passion – passion in business is what drives us to push the boundaries and create lasting change.

I mean in the absence of emotion. The sort of emotion we employ unwittingly and which can block progress.

The conventional wisdom in psychology is that the brain has two independent systems.

The first is your emotional brain, the part that feels pleasure and pain and is instinctive.

The second is the rational brain, also described as consciousness, the part that analyses and deliberates; you could call them your “heart” and mind.

A good example of how they conflict may happen in the early hours in your household. Who hasn’t set the alarm clock early to get up and take some exercise or to prepare something before leaving for the office? That’s your rational brain at work.

Yet, come morning and the alarm goes off, how many of us have hit the snooze button, too comfy and warm to get up and lost the opportunity to rise early – and achieved nothing other than a generous helping of guilt?

You can see how this type of conflict can manifest in our working lives and inhibit the progress of our business.

It makes perfect sense to offer up your current issues to a group of business leaders and let them employ their objectivity and experience.

In the absence of subjective emotion you can only but benefit from their combined wisdom and knowledge.

Rationally speaking, I can’t think why I haven’t sought out a group like this before.

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