Have you ever read the book “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell, which shows how very tiny actions can produce huge results? Well, here are some Strategic Intervention stories to make you think:
* One of our students who transformed her career using… a cup of tea?
* How Cloe and Tony helped a couple transform their adult son – without him even meeting Tony or Cloe
Have you ever wondered why so many decisions we make end up backsliding, while other changes we make (or others make) take root and grow, changing everything around them? Well, it’s kind of simple. The solutions that work are reinforced by certain laws of change, the kind where one small gesture is exactly what is needed to transform a whole situation. If you’ve read “The Tipping Point” you know there are certain actions that are 100X more powerful than any other to create a chain reaction of change. Let’s look at some examples from our work at Robbins-Madanes.
Story #1: “How a cup of tea transformed my career”
A few months ago, Cloe and I were on a call with a student named Tara who was a dental hygienist in a busy office of over 20 people. Tara’s leadership position had been growing for months, and people now came to her regularly for her advice.
She had a big problem though…
The problem was a female hygienist, a “large masculine woman” who insulted the staff, bullied Tara and regularly threatened her leadership position. If you know anything about office dynamics , you’ll know sometimes one person can take up 80% of your leadership efforts- and can undermine your leadership 80% of the time! For Tara, this lady was a time bomb.
In Tara’s words, “I will not let her bully me even if I am half her size… but how does one get her to change her attitude of being a bully, she’s always ready to dish out insults and say “well that is who I am and if you don’t like it, then too bad.”
Well, Cloe’s recommendation was a little unusual. She mentioned that in some cultures (the hygienist was from Iran) actions speak louder than words. Cloe advised Tara to shift the woman’s behavior in a simple way… by making her a cup of tea.
A cup of tea? That’s going to solve Tara’s #1 workplace problem?
But that’s what Cloe advised Tara to do.
Well, Tara’s someone that takes advice and puts it into action. We heard back from her within 24 hours! She said:
“Cloe, I wanted to say thank you. Your advice and directive worked. This morning I brought in fresh tea and immediately offered the hygienist to make her a cup of my jasmine tea. She immediately embraced me with a hug and said I was her BFF again. She liked the tea and said it made her feel good. I will use this strategy for the rest of the team. Thank you Thank you Thank you.”
Within 24 hours of asking her question, and really within 15 minutes of applying Cloe’s advice, Tara had a workplace strategy that will serve her for months to come. So guess what happened next? Tara got the reputation in the office of being THE person who can solve ANYONE’s problem. Within months she was promoted to office manager.
How did Cloe know that a “cup of tea” would work? In every culture there are some gestures that are more powerful than any other. If you understand what these are, you can have tremendous influence.
Story #2: How Tony and Cloe helped a couple reconcile with their adult son… without his even knowing it.
Tony Robbins and Cloe Madanes were onstage together demonstrating how to do a coaching session with a couple. In the audience were over 5,000 therapists and social workers at a professional conference. The couple they were coaching were themselves successful therapists. The primary presenting problem was that they fought about money issues.
Now, if someone comes in complaining about money, many coaches would focus on money as the core challenge. Not Tony and Cloe. As soon as they asked about the money issue, they learned there was a relationship issue. Once the relationship issue was on the table, the couple mentioned the husband’s adult son from a previous marriage, who had taken a bad road in life, and this was a deep source of pain for everybody. So what started off as a financial disagreement had morphed into a “deep” family issue. At this point, many coaches or consultants would be totally lost, right?
Now here’s what’s great. Tony and Cloe spent an hour with the couple. They repaired the money disagreement. They strengthened the couple’s relationship (even their sex life). They even did a few minutes of bodywork with the couple. (All of this live onstage, remember). And they helped the couple on how to approach the adult stepson.
And, amazingly: The couple went home. Their relationship transformed. Their passion improved. The money issues were overcome… and within a few months, the adult son turned round his life, got a job, got married, and just bore the couple their first grandchild. This after one hour with Tony and Cloe!
That’s Strategic Intervention. It solves problems you’re not always able to articulate, and it “fixes” people who are not even present at the intervention. Systemic solutions don’t fade with time. SI solutions build over time and improve the lives of people in your circle. And you know what? 90% of coaches, consultants, and experts don’t think systemically. They would have focused on the presenting problem – the financial disagreement. They would have negotiated between the couple about money, or worked on their financial goals, or analyzed their spending. And without getting profound results – because they would have missed the Core Challenge that made all the difference.
You’ve GOT to be able to address your client’s Core Challenge. If you can do that, you’ll create massive changes. You’ll have a confidence in your soul that you know how to contribute to anybody. And that real, dirt-level confidence will bring tons of clients and professional success.
So many coaches come to us, freshly trained by various programs, and say “I’m lost! I have the book knowledge, but I have no idea how to really help real clients.” Why does that happen? Because we don’t always learn from words. We learn from experiences. You have to live through something, feel it, experience it, for it to sink in and become a skill within you. For hundreds of years the top practitioners in any profession were the ones who were able to observe other great practitioners directly, right? So here’s an Experience for you today: Tony and Cloe working with that couple onstage I just talked about. Watch and see how Tony and Cloe honed in on the core challenge to create not only change for the couple, but for their whole family.
Whatever challenge is greatest in your life, no matter whether it’s at home, workplace, or anywhere else, there is a “tipping point” solution right there. For a Strategic Interventionist, every interaction is full of potential tipping points. Those solutions set other solutions in motion, and you change dozens of lives in profound ways.