Changing Personal Micro-Strategies

Do you know anyone who always seems to struggle with the world and everything it throws at them? Do you hear them frequently say something like “it’s always going wrong for me”? Do you feel that people sometimes over-react when you say the simplest of passing comment? We all know people like that, sometimes very well. We may even recognize this happening in ourselves, and wish that we could make a change.

The problem we are experiencing is unproductive personal micro-strategies, and that is why this piece is about Changing Personal Micro-Strategies

What is a Personal Micro-strategy?
In business we all know that a strategy is a recipe which produces a particular result for a given set of ingredients, by following a specified process. We have a Corporate Strategy, a Business Strategy, an IT Strategy and probably an Operational Strategy. These are all Strategies which allow the business to plan to achieve a particular goal or set of goals or objectives.

A Strategy is the direction and scope of an organization over the long-term which achieves advantage for the organization through its configuration of resources to meet the needs of markets and to fulfill stakeholder expectations

A Personal Micro-strategy is therefore a recipe which produces a particular result for an individual in a particular set of circumstances.

Advantages of a Personal Micro-strategy?
Does a Personal Micro-strategy always achieve advantages for the individual? Is it fixed or can it be changed? Consider a child who learns at an early age that they can get the attention they want from their parents if they cry. Crying gives them an advantage when they want attention, so it becomes their micro-strategy. Need attention, apply strategy, achieve desired result. The more often this strategy is applied and works, the more it is flagged as a successful micro-strategy.

Perhaps later when they learn social interaction at school, they find that crying does not necessarily work as well in competition with many others. Children are resourceful and usually very flexible, and so may adopt a newer strategy, for example telling tales. Need attention, apply strategy and tell tales on someone, achieve desired result. If unsuccessful, try something different.

Depending on the personal circumstances of the individual, this can result in many Personal Micro-Strategies, which can be used interchangeably, or a few deeply engrained ones which are always used for almost any occasion.

Who has Personal Micro-strategies?
Everyone has personal micro-strategies, and use them every day to deal with the apparently random sequence of events to which we are constantly exposed.

We all probably know someone who is always gossiping around the office, telling everyone who will listen secrets and detail of other people’s lives. The chances are that they have a deeply entrenched personal micro-strategy, which they picked up before the age of seven, possibly through imitation of peers or roll models. For the short term it gets them the attention they are seeking, but does it serve them in the long term? Or does it work to the detriment of the business of their employer, and ultimately pose a risk to their job?

Workplace bullies often have a similar problematic micro-strategy, which covers up their own feelings of insecurity and vulnerability by responding with angry outbursts when challenged, or storming out on difficult discussions, or picking on weaker individuals as a way of fitting in with the crowd. While the behavior may confer a short term benefit, it presents longer term challenges to forming relationships, long term employment and ultimately happiness. It also cost the business in lost productivity, absence through sickness and litigation.

A Personal Micro-strategy is the sequence an individual adopts in the short term which achieves perceived advantages in response to internal or external events, needs and circumstances.

What is an Unproductive Personal Micro-strategy?
An unproductive personal micro-strategy is a recipe which achieves a short term benefit, if it achieves anything, but returns unprofitable longer term results. This could be poor health, lost of employment, injury or even death. At best it is a recipe for long term unhappiness and poor performance, and at worst it is a recipe for disaster.

Consider the person who has an angry reaction when an unthinking driver in another vehicle cuts them up on the freeway. The immediate response to a perceived invasion of personal space is anger, as they learned in school. However, they are unable to intimidate the other driver by shouting and cursing, so that is replaced by flashing headlights and sounding the horn, and possibly by impolite hand signals. What happens if the other driver also has an unproductive personal micro-strategy and reacts negatively to the situation? This micro-strategy likely has little short term benefit, but may ultimately result in a road rage incident, or an accident which could end in death for someone.

So is there anything we can do to change our own unproductive personal micro-strategies and help others deal with theirs?

How To Change Personal Micro-Strategies
If we consider a personal micro-strategy to be a recipe which produces a particular result for a given set of ingredients and a specified process, then by changing any of the ingredients, or the process, or both we will produce different results.

How do we change the ingredients of the events or circumstances which triggered the micro-strategy? We can not prevent the other vehicle from pulling in front of us without signalling the maneuver. No but we can change our interpretation of the event! Human beings are meaning making machines, and we give meanings to anything and everything, even if it actually has none. Perhaps we could affix a different meaning to the event and interpret it as a reminder to watch out better for potential actions of other road users.

Alternatively, how about changing the process so that instead of reacting to an ignorant action by another we smile and thank them, or acknowledge their imperceptible thanks with “you’re welcome!”.

What else can we do?
As personal micro-strategies are learned, the good news is that they can be unlearned and replaced by more productive micro-strategies.

For example with the help of a personal coach or hypnotherapist it is possible to change the reaction to a given event. Perhaps replacing anger with laughter the next time someone slights us, or replacing feelings of insecurity and vulnerability with more positive emotions would prevent the unproductive personal micro-strategy from triggering. Either way it opens up new opportunities and new possibilities for performance and success.

Remember, a business coach can help with business strategies and goal setting, while a personal coach can help us with unproductive personal micro-strategies. If we find that our own unproductive personal micro-strategies are getting in the way of our businesses, it might be that we need help from both.

This article explores some simple ways of Changing Personal Micro-Strategies. If you want to find out more you why not click on the link below, fill in your details and get in touch.

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