Vacuum Cleaner Method

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I read a story about a leader who uses the “vacuum-cleaner method” with his staff when they are discussing a work dilemma. Through a series of questions he “sucks the dust” out of his associates minds. He uses this strategy to draw out their negative attitudes. First he presents potential solutions to a problem, then he asks them to share all the possible ways that these resolutions will not work. One after one they have their say. While many of their comments would provide sound reasoning, I imagine some of their comments might sound like negative mind chatter familiar to all of us.

“That’s a crazy idea!”
“That would cost too much.”
“That will take way too much time.”
“We’ve never done it that way before.”
“We’ll never get finished at this rate.”

After hearing their remarks, the leader dismisses the meeting and asks them to return the next day to finish the dialogue. At the second conference, he tells them that no negative talk will be allowed. Then he quietly suggests positive ideas concerning the proposals. He asks them to participate in the discussion offering their own constructive suggestions. Eventually the team develops a new set of attitudes. They begin to explore the possibilities of the solutions instead of the improbabilities.

Maybe we need to use the “vacuum-cleaner method” on our own negative thinking. Sometimes we view our situations through a “dusty” lens. We focus on the depressing, gloomy aspects of our circumstances. Our negative mind chatter overtakes our thinking. We tend to build up obstacles in our imagination and these barriers often become reality. Difficulties must be studied and dealt with in order for us to eliminate them, but we must see them for worth they are worth. We should seek to minimize them and not inflate them.

Like the business leader, we too can acknowledge the challenges of our circumstances and then move forward to positive solutions. It’s often a daily challenge to clean out the dust of pessimistic thinking. When a negative thought enters your mind, try replacing it with a positive one. When life’s predicaments try to get the best of me, I recite the following personal affirmations based on scripture.

“If God be for me, who can be against me? (Romans 8:31)
“I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
“I am in God’s hands” and “The kingdom of God is within me.” (Luke 17:21)


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