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He sat back in his chair and gave a big sigh

“What’s that sigh about?” I asked.

He said, “Relief!”

Like all the leaders and high-potentials I know, he was striving to make a big impact yet in this moment, he was struggling with self-doubt about a potentially challenging conversation with an employee.

He was stuck in “polarity thinking” (“all or nothing,” “this or that” “black or white”) and struggling to pick one or the other. He was in the space of indecision, the place where you can make no impact at all.

He was stuck between EITHER “I can tell this employee what I expect and I’ll make them feel bad” OR “I can say nothing, feel pissed off inside, and maintain the relationship.”

Black and white. Either/or. Polarized.

I believe there are always more choices.

I like to explore what’s in "the middle."

“The middle” is where limitless possibilities live.

In this space, this middle, there lies potential.

I asked him a few questions.

As he looked inside, a lightbulb came on.

It was an “aha” moment that gave him a new possibility.

He saw a new choice that he hadn’t seen before.

All of a sudden, he had a way to frame the conversation that would serve both him and his employee. He found the words.

He said the words out loud.

Then a smile crossed his face, and that's when he sighed.

The next time you find yourself thinking “this or that,” “black or white?” ask yourself: “What’s in the middle?”

That’s where you’ll find the answer where you can make the biggest impact…

…and breathe your own sigh of relief! :)