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Red Zone Blue Zone Part 2

May 4, 2022

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Blue Zone as our Life’s Work
The Blue Zone allows us to have conflict, even heated conflict, around ideas, values, mission, and strategy. Red Zone conflict moves us away from team. Blue Zone conflict moves us beyond team – to a common purpose. The Blue Zone begins when a person becomes aware of her own Red Zone and acknowledges that.
Creating the Blue Zone is essentially the life work of everyone who aspires to lead a deeply meaningful life. The first step is of course the most difficult. It requires that we are completely honest with ourselves in identifying our core issues – and by extension honest with those around us.  The Blue Zone is the willingness to accept responsibility for all our behavior and the consequences of our behavior.  It is the continual refusal to shift responsibility for our actions to anyone or to any institution or to any system.
Awareness of our response sequence helps us to consciously decide about our thoughts, feelings and actions.
 Notice our reaction in the conflict.
 Identify our core issues being triggered.
 Decide on alternative constructive response
We can’t control what happens to us, but we can choose how to respond.  Accepting responsibility for our behavior allows us to change the behavior that is inconsistent with our most personal values.  And the inverse is also true!  Accepting responsibility for our own behavior protects us from accepting responsibility for other’s behavior.
When disagreements arise, the disagreers keep their focus on the mission of the organization and what is ultimately in the best interest of that organization. The exhibited behaviors are:
 Thoughtful
 Reflective
 Listen deeply for what the underlying issue might be
 Do not see negative intent in the other person(s) who is disagreeing.

The Red Zone
The Red Zone is where the atmosphere is characterized by a lack of professionalism and emotional heat. We’re not talking about conflict that has no emotion. That’s absurd. But in the Blue Zone the emotion is in the service of the intellect, because the primary source of the conflict is not emerging from my personal story, but from the mission of the organization. In the Red Zone, the conflict now revolves around me, my story, my neediness, my personal issues. The Red Zone emerges from the emotional centers within the brain.
As I sink into the Red Zone, my personal story begins to emerge. That story has a central theme or premise that is central to that story: Will I survive? Am I acceptable? Am I competent? Am I in control? As a person begins to sink into her Red Zone, it is usually the same core theme that emerges. Consequently, you will hear out of the mouth of a person the same general theme over and over again. You’re trying to control me! (control) Don’t you think I can do this? (competence). This Red Zone theme can color every interaction unless a person becomes aware of this and is able to manage it appropriately. 
In the Red Zone the focus becomes personal. Even though we might verbally be still disagreeing about an issue involving the organization, the real energy is coming from a personal place. The main focus is not furthering the mission of the organization, but self-protection. Behaviors in evidence are:
 I disengage
 I distract
 I become easily annoyed
 I’m resentful
 I procrastinate
 I attack the other personally
 I use Alcohol as medication
 I avoid people and situations


About Dr. Jim Osterhaus

Dr. Jim Osterhaus is the Senior Executive Coach at Leighton Ford Ministries with extensive experience helping ministry leaders and organizations
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