Stressed overwhelmed business colleagues feeling tired at corporate meeting. Business people conflict problem. Stress at work or migraine concept. Solving problem in an office.

When we’re feeling overboard, out of sight of land with no rescue on the way, lifen situations can seem impossible to resolve.

Consider the following three narratives. Does one resonate with you more than another?

A young adult who is a serious student develops strong friendships, volunteers in the community, goes on to college and then secures a good job in an area of interest. Their future seems quite promising, and their persistent efforts are being rewarded appropriately. However, a close family member then experiences an unexpected tragedy. This young adult feels an overwhelming obligation to interrupt their own plans completely to rescue that family member, even though it’s unclear if any of their efforts will have a positive outcome.

A working couple with children is doing their best to “make ends meet,” balancing individual work responsibilities and the needs of growing children who never seem to tire, leaving little to no time to attend to each other's needs. Time passed, with each playing their respective part as the years passed and the children became more independent. Eventually, each partner finds that they are feeling increasingly distant from the other. Communication is not effective, and planning becomes exclusively based on individual needs.

A small company spends its early entrepreneurial years just trying to survive. Through years of persistence and sheer grit they succeed in becoming a sustainable, midsize company, balancing profits with expanding costs and staff. More time passes, and the company starts to grow by acquiring other small companies; this organic growth continues, and the shareholders are pleased. After a period of time, though, management team members recognize that the acquired companies continue to function in their disparate styles. None of their leaders express any interest in establishing a unified operating plan.

Now consider your own challenging situation—personal or professional—on which you would like to make progress. Select a single, specific situation.

Next, you’ll ask two Real Questions and answer them on the following 10-point scale:

Our narratives can contain tremendous emotional energy that includes: heightened emotions, tension, apprehension, confusion, and multiple perspectives. Effective discussion and resolution of any of them could easily result in a stalemate if the different parties feel unheard or overrun by an overbearing individual.

Answering these two Real Questions on a scale of 1-10 can respond to all of the emotional energy of a difficult situation without reviewing all the stifling details of previous relationships:

Exploring each of these unique situations and graphically answering the above questions might look like this:

Once you’ve answered the above questions, it’s easier to navigate:

  Q: “How Do I Get There?”

To learn more about real questions or to share your answers.