OK, National Opposite Day is over. So what! Celebrate it anyway. After all, you can do the opposite of what you normally do to explore, educate and experiment when the feeling moves you.

The key is to do it differently on purpose.

That means you aren't just being ornery, you are re-calibrating relationships and restructuring routines.

In fact, I say, let's give it another name. Let's call it "Pattern Interrupt" Day.

Here are some examples:

  • You never say what is on your mind, especially when you feel discounted: Time to take a deep breath and say out loud "I'm angry."
  • You always defend your position when getting feedback: Time to take a deep breath and say "whatever."
  • You are the great problem solver and you are right just about all the time: Time to say "I haven't a clue" and let others figure out what to do.
  • You are always puffing up and telling the world how great, smart and wonderful you are: Time to bow your head and say "I'm just really average."

You get the idea.

The main thing here is to go into uncharted territory; keep your feet on the ground and your eyes looking forward. There is actually a lot of fun in breaking your most beloved behavior patterns. Since you cannot know what will happen next, it will keep you from getting bored.

There's lots of research, especially with our close relative the chimpanzee that shows when routines are broken and new shiny objects or challenges come into view, the chimps will grab for them, whatever they are.

Uncharted territory has such a magical ring to it. Kind of like Indiana Jones. And even he had to break his pattern of feeling like a little kid around his father. He finally had to tell dad to "zip it" in so many words to save their lives.

Like chimps, like Indiana, we all love to solve puzzles, if for no other reason than the sake of the challenge.

There are 13 common patterns I have observed that we learned in our original organization, the family that show up at work when stress is high. That is the ideal time to do the opposite and see what happens. Here are some examples:

  • The super achiever asks for help.
  • The rebel wants to create a community of goodwill.
  • The procrastinator gets work done first.
  • The bully stays quiet.
  • The drama queen/king shuts up.

Take a chance and do the opposite. You will learn about how others see you and you will learn a lot about what really is the best way for you to respond.

Let's hear it for opposite day. Go ahead, interrupt a pattern, you'll be glad you did.

Published on: Jan 26, 2016
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