April 2010 – The third of the Big 4 energy blocks which hold us back and prevent us from achieving our dreams and goals are: Interpretations. When we interpret something, we create and accept an opinion about an event, situation, or experience and then look for evidence to support its validity. When we adopt an interpretation, we’ve narrowed our perspective to the limits permitted by the interpretation so much so that we don’t recognize the possibility that other explanations might exist. In actuality, though, an interpretation often represents only one viewpoint, one perspective, among the many that are possible.

Our interpretations hold a strong energetic charge, which affects our emotions and actions. If we believe that our viewpoint of a particular situation is the only explanation, we close off the possibility of another point of view. We may then end up wasting a lot of time and resources marching off in the wrong direction. Because we don’t see that other possibilities exist, we remain stuck in our story, and feel like we have no control over the outcome.

Typical Interpretations

  • The managing partner of my practice group thinks I’m incompetent.
  • The other associates don’t like me.
  • The junior associates don’t want to follow my instructions.
  • The other members of my practice group are just not interested in working with me.

Consider this scenario

The young associate arrives at the office and passes the partner with whom he’s working on a new file. The partner barely nods hello, goes into his office and closes the door. The associate might interpret this action as an indication that the partner is angry with him or disappointed in the quality of the associate’s work. The associate might spend the rest of the day wondering what he did to upset the partner and might hesitate to approach the partner with a question he has regarding the file. This, of course, might result in further delays in completing the file and adversely affect the quality of the associate’s final work product.

Challenge Interpretations

As with assumptions, interpretations are personal and are somewhat difficult to let go of and challenge. Holding on to interpretations may seem like the easy way out, as facing them may move us into uncharted territory. Challenging our interpretations, however, opens us up to a world of possibilities.

Interpretations can be directly challenged by asking: “What’s another way to look at that?” Just realizing that there are other ways to look at something lessens the power of our interpretations. One way to do this is to imagine what another individual’s perspective of the situation might be. Asking for someone else’s point of view on a difficult situation (even if they are not directly involved) can break existing paradigms and open pathways for more successful solutions. Challenging ourselves or others to argue the point of view directly opposite our interpretation also works remarkably well to arrive at new information, new angles, and new paths to success.

In the example of the partner above, perhaps the reason he barely acknowledged the associate was that he just received a disturbing phone call about a family member, or he had a more pressing deadline that had to be met, or – well, there are many possible explanations. What opportunities to improve his work product would the associate miss if he decided not to present himself to the partner with his question based on his limiting interpretation.

This month’s challenge: Before jumping to conclusions and believing the first story that comes to mind, consider other possibilities that could lead you to a broader perspective. And, as we discussed last month, broader perspectives present us with the opportunity for new, empowering choices and actions.

Consider the possibilities.

Adam J. Krim                                                                                       

About Adam J. Krim

Adam works as a Certified Professional Coach, delivering soft skills training seminars on a variety of topics, including Time Management, Harnessing Stress, Decision Making, Problem Solving and more.
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