Getting Unstuck

by Joseph Kwon in


I had just received some bad news. The terms of the deal I was working on had just gotten worse, but I needed to close the deal quickly. But how could I go about accepting worse terms without further weakening our position and ending up with a deal that was no longer worthwhile to make? This was the seemingly unsolvable problem that I faced from my desk one sunny afternoon.

Have you ever come up against a problem which seemed to have only bad solutions? Or none at all? Your mind runs in circles as you keep hitting brick walls. The funny thing about our brains is how they can be affected by our senses and our environment. The next time you come up against a tough nut to crack, try the following EZPZ steps to knock loose a solution.

1. Change how you feel

By feel I mean your sense of touch and not your favorite Air Supply song. Roll up your sleeves or kick off your shoes. Splash some water on your face or stick your head out the window. Change your clothes or the part in your hair. The key is to feel different and lead your mind to think differently.

2. Change your orientation

Stand up or sit down. Go for a walk or drive. Move to the opposite side of the building, the basement or the roof. The intention is to be in a different physical space with different visual and auditory cues to prompt a new perspective.

3. Change your flavor

Here's a no-brainer. Eat a piece of chocolate. Or your favorite guilty pleasure. Have some water, coffee or tea. Have something bitter to jump start your thinking. The idea is to trigger your taste buds to shift your mental state to one that just might open up a solution.

So I'm back at my desk sinking in quicksand. The more I struggle, the more fruitless my efforts become. I need to change things up so I take a walk through the hall, then outside, and end up sitting in my car. It's a sauna outside so I roll down my windows. As a refreshing breeze blows through I notice smiling people strolling by and enjoying the beautiful day. The gears turn. There's something important about this observation. Beauty. Joy. Teamwork. These are the key drivers in this potential partnership. By couching my acceptance of the single negative term as an acceptable accommodation in a deal that was an overall mutually exciting and beneficial relationship between two trusted and long-time partners, I was able to finalize the deal without further weakening our position. In the end, things worked out for the best.  

Next post next Saturday, 6:30 a.m.