When we’re stuck, when we’re really stuck, a few things happen:

  • Our problem is blindingly obvious to everyone around us, except us
  • We genuinely want to make things better but it’s not safe to change anything
  • We naturally do “harder, better, faster, stronger” which just gives us more practice at doing our problem
  • Sometimes when we’re pushing really hard “here”, we need to push “over here” to move something “here”
  • The thing that we need to do is sometimes the thing that we don’t want to do yet


This is a completely made-up story. We’re talking with Tyrone.

Owen: So, Tyrone, what’s going on?

Tyrone: Well, I got a problem. It’s my restaurant. It’s not making any money and it’s stressing me out and it’s stressing my wife out and it’s been going on for too long and I have to fix it. And I’m willing to do anything to fix it.

Owen: Hmmm, what kind of restaurant is it?

Tyrone: It’s a luxury restaurant. Top drawer, black tie, best food in the world.

Owen: Wow, where is it?

Tyrone: At the dump.

Owen: The dump?

Tyrone: Yeah.

Owen: The “dump” dump?

Tyrone: Yeah.

Owen: The place where people take their old fridges and their old baby prams and rotting food and trash and they dump it and the bulldozers push it all around and the birds swoop down and it’s hot and dusty and smelly?

Tyrone: Yeah, but now we call them “recycling centres”.

Owen: Right, and how did you come to have a restaurant there?

Tyrone: Well, I grew up next door and my folks, rest their souls, started with a food-cart. They used to sell burgers and drinks to the guys working there and some of the people who were dropping their rubbish off, and then they added a couple of plastic tables and it kind of turned into an open-air cafe and I turned it into a restaurant. A luxury restaurant.

Owen: And business is slow?

Tyrone: Oh, business is terrible. Last week we did, let me count, one cover.

Owen: One. He or a she?

Tyrone: He.

Owen: What was it?

Tyrone: Ah, the crab salad. The guy raved about it. He said it was the best crab salad he’d ever had and he would know because he’s a squintillionaire and he’s eaten at all the best restaurants all over the world. See, it’s not the food. I’ve spent a fortune on the food. I’ve spent five years perfecting the recipes, I’ve got brand-new kitchens, I’ve hired the best chefs in the world.

Owen: Could it be the decor?

Tyrone: It’s not the decor. It’s beautiful, you should see it. It’s mostly glass. And I’ve imported all these beautiful tapestries from the Orient.

Owen: Any entertainment?

Tyrone: We got the 20-piece chamber orchestra Monday to Saturday. Sundays, it’s the jazz trio. I am thinking of getting a dolphin.

Owen: A dolphin?

Tyrone: Yeah, like in a big tank, as a centerpiece.

Owen: Tyrone, if I was a betting man, I bet that everyone tells you to move the restaurant.

Tyrone: That’s all I get, night and day, but that’s not going to work, I tried it already.

Owen: Where did you move it to?

Tyrone: Oh, my buddy’s got a site in the next town and I tried it there for a while.

Owen: Was it in a dump?

Tyrone: Yeah, it didn’t make any difference. I lost more money. I should have stayed here. My dear old Dad, rest his soul, was always saying to me “Tyrone, stay true to your roots”, and that’s kept me in good stead.

Owen: Hmmm, so can you just wait another few years to see if things improve on their own?

Tyrone: No. No, I can’t wait any more, I have to fix this. I’m willing to do anything to fix this.

Owen: Are you willing to try another location?

Tyrone: Yeees, but I don’t want to do that now. That will just stress me, believe me I cannot take any more stress, also it’ll cost lots of money and I can’t deal with that at the moment either. If it was guaranteed to fix it I’d do it but I just can’t afford to take the risk now. Once I solve this immediate problem then I can think about the fancy stuff.

Owen: (pointing) Hmmm. What’s that?

Tyrone: Magazine.

Owen: What does it say, diving or something? You are a scuba-diver?

Tyrone: No, deep-sea diving. You know, salvage, treasure-hunters. I’ve always wanted to be a deep-sea diver.

Owen: Right, these deep-sea divers, they always prospect in the same place do they?

Tyrone: No, they move around, they’re treasure-hunters.

Owen: Yeah, but they always stay in the same place and just keep digging a deeper hole?

Tyrone: No, they read all the old charts and ships’ logs and stuff so they know roughly where a wreck might be, and then, over a few weeks, few months, they systematically trawl over a wide area. Oh, that reminds me, guess what I found one day at the dump? A gym bag full of money! Treasure!

Owen: Right, but these deep-sea divers, they stay in that one general area all the time, for years and years?

Tyrone: No, they travel all over the world. If they don’t find something, they go somewhere else. Some of these families have been treasure-hunters for generations.

Owen: Hmmm, but they have a home-base?

Tyrone: Yeah, everything’s controlled from home, doesn’t matter where the fleet is.

Owen: Hmmm, you been to that noodle place on the corner? It’s always packed.

Tyrone: Yeah, it’s alright.

Owen: Is their food as good as yours?

Tyrone: Pshhh, not even close.

Owen: Are they making more money than you?

Tyrone: Yeah, probably.

Owen: Are they happier than you?

Tyrone: I don’t know. Oh, I have been thinking about a delivery service. You know, instead of the people coming to the food, take the food to the people. I’d have to sack the orchestra though. Mind you, that’d save me a lot of money.

Owen: Get your shit together, Tyrone.

square circle light

No journey of the mind is impossible. It is only a matter of navigation.

Philip Harland (The Power of Six: A Six Part Guide to Self Knowledge - The findings and philosophy of David Grove, originator of Clean Language, emergent knowledge, in the fields of psychotherapy, self-development, coaching and training)

push it push it real good

Deeply held beliefs are defended at every cognitive gate.

Cognitive Dissonance

Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die.

Mel Brooks

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