problem solver

The direct experience of an executive of a multinational energy company.

“I am a PROBLEM SOLVER. It is one of my most prominent traits and has always given me a sense of pride.

And yet, little by little, I discovered how dependant I was on this behaviour: in order to feel gratified I have to solve things, get things done and complete my infinite checklist. I live as if my to-do list is more important than my relationships with other people: colleagues, family members, friends, etc. It is like an interior imperative mandate that I have to follow programmatically.

Another aspect of the Problem Solver is to be COMPETENT: give right answers and be a perfectionist. This has an effect on my interpersonal relationships in that it reduces my capacity to listen to the other person’s point of view. I am trapped in having to defend my convictions because, accepting my failure would mean suffering a loss of esteem. I am convinced that the sum of what you do is your total value, so to make a mistake means to lose part of your value in the eyes of others and in yourself. This assumption causes me a kind of performance anxiety: I can never stop; I can never take safe harbour to rest for the night. I have to navigate. Always.

By identifying an automatic mechanism that causes me to act in ways that not necessarily made me happy or are important to me, I was able to see:

– the temporary benefit of preserving a fake comfort zone that protects me from the anxiety of making mistakes
– the cost of not developing personal relationships with those around me.

To get out of the paradigm of the human machine, which has seemingly played a significant part in my life, I am learning to listen to my emotions in relation to the activities I engage in. Emotion helps me to understand whether I am acting in function of my automatic pilot or in function of what I really want and what is important to me. It’s true that every day we are called upon to do things that are not always exalting, but it’s one thing to do these unconsciously, in an automatic way, and quite another to be aware that we are doing what we’re doing because we want to.

With an automatic mechanism dominating my life, it’s clear that I am not master of my time and that the mechanism is making my choices for me. Therefore, I have chosen to be a fuller person and more… human, by finding time for myself at work and by engaging in difficult conversations. Indeed, an automatic mechanism such as this deprives us of our adultness. We let ourselves be led by the hand without taking responsibility for the difficult conversations we should be having, first of all with ourselves, and then with others. If I am interested in improving my relationships, I need to find the courage to take the bull by the horns, to face matters, to recognise and surpass moments of stress, shame, shyness and fear, and see what happens, instead of letting my relationships stand as they are, floating about and not going anywhere.

With this I have begun of my COCREA journey. My relationships with others have improved, I am less detached, and as I see it, it is as if I have reawakened from a sort of narcolepsy that has afflicted me for too long”.