We humans are masterful at working with the tension that leads to creating amazing new ideas and breakthrough innovations. We are also very good at creating our own tension and stress that leads to overwhelm. In both situations, this tension leads to either action—or reaction.
A simple, yet profound way to take action, even in the face of overwhelm, is called the 3-step dance. It goes like this: 1. What do you want? 2. What do you have? 3. What’s next? Let us explain.
In coaching, the difference between what you say you want, and the current reality you have is referred to as “the gap.” There is an energetic force in this gap, which we call “dynamic tension.” The term is borrowed from physics that describes a vigorous force that is actively pulling in opposite directions between the two opposing points.
The 3-step dance is a way to work with the tension in the gap and have it work for you, not against you. If you can learn to recognize this invisible force in the gap, you can learn to leverage it as a source of positive energy.
Here are two metaphors to illustrate our point. A kite cannot fly unless it has wind blowing in its face to thrust it upward. A sailboat is dead in the water if there’s not wind blowing and filling its sales, propelling it forward.
This dynamic tension can be both a source of overwhelm, and, it can be a dynamic energy that pulls you forward, manifesting more than you ever dreamed.
The trick is learning to hold the tension as a source of forward-moving energy.
Back to the 3-step dance: The first step is declaring what you want. As a Creator—the foundational role in TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)®—you first ask: “What do I want?” or “What do I care about?” This step requires you to clarify what holds heart and meaning for you.
This next step is to describe, without judgment or blame, your current reality. This step aligns with the Challenger role in TED*, sometimes called the “truth teller.” This is not always easy, because human nature leans toward interpreting a situation through highly personal stories and previous experiences, which can skew the truth of the matter.
Here are a few questions that are useful in this second step:
- What is true that I am not yet facing?
- What is missing in my description of current reality?
- Is there anything I am avoiding?
- How might others describe the situation differently?
The third step is choosing one baby step and getting into action. There is magic in knowing you only need to take one baby step that is yours to do (not someone else’s to do). Taking action utilizes the tension and seeds your creativity. It also relieves stress when you let go of having to know the whole plan before you take one baby step.
The secret to working with the dynamic tension in the gap between what you say you want and what you really have is holding the tension as a source of forward energy, rather than stress. If you see it as stress, overwhelm follows, and you are at risk of defaulting to one of the Dreaded Drama Triangle roles of Victim, Persecutor, or Rescuer.
To ease the tension, Rescuers may jump at the first solution to fix the situation, all under the heading of being helpful. Persecutors will find a way to compete, blame or “be right” to control the tension. When stuck in a Victim mentality, you may give up easily or compromise your vision as a way to relieve the tension.
By learning the 3-step dance of dynamic tension, we believe you will feel a renewed belief that what you want—what you care about—is truly possible…one step at a time.