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Tag Archive for: transition
A very wise mentor (Marvin Weisbord at http://futuresearch.net) reminded me in a recent meeting of this eternal truth—that the future is now. He should know, as the organization he founded, Future Search, is clearly all about the future.
He knows that it is what we say and do today that brings about the desired future. Each step, each word today creates the platform for something that is either growing or decaying. Remember that clincher line from the movie Shawshank Redemption? “You either get busy livin’, or get busy dyin’”.
I sit on my local Y’s strategic planning committee. We want so badly to change, to engage in stronger causes for our community, but we struggle to define them clearly and distinctly from the “gym and swim” services we are known for.
How do we get busy livin’? We kinda sorta know it’s about the steps we take today, but we’re caught in the worries of recessionary times, and the fear of doing something different. We know the community is changing, the needs are changing, yet we grapple with how to hit the right needs and stay solvent as an organization.
Comfort is the enemy of change. Like the frog who is put in a pot of cold water, which is then set to boil, it’s often too late to jump out of the boiling pot, the old comfort, when we finally realize the old comforts aren’t serving us any more.
I ran into this twice today, once on the organizational front, and again in a personal coaching session. The comfort of habit is powerful. For organizations, the addage “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” is the sinker. For individuals, it’s the devil I know that seduces us, versus the devil I don’t know?the gamble of change, that scares us away. We fool ourselves into thinking that it’s OK, it’s as “good as it gets”. We each ride the sine wave of life, not realizing that we have the power to supercharge it with something more.
And though the answer is easy, it surely isn’t simple to do. It requires us to get up and move, to ask others what they think, to find the common ground between what we can offer, and what the world needs of us. And this requires us to think together, to borrow other’s ideas, to look at the whole picture before we invest in changing a part.
Whether it is individual change or organization change, understanding the whole picture and building bridges that lead us away from comfortable old habits, which threaten to boil us, is the most important place to start. Fear is a pretty ugly four letter word.
The future is now. What are you thinking, what are you saying, and what are you doing, right now? How do you get busy livin’ today?
I have written recently about the triathlon that I am training for these days. It’s a teeny tiny race, just for beginners like me. But it’s not the race that I’m training for. It’s the structure. I suspect this must be the way architects think. While I’m sure they enjoy the end result, what they delight in is the creation of structure that serves a greater purpose. Undergirding, framing, supporting, reaching—these all seem to be great features of the architect’s world. And for those of us who choose change.
Sometimes the structures we create just get us through the day and the week. Why do you think organizations like Weight Watchers and AA stay in business? Because we need external scaffolding to order our lives, especially when it feels like it is in chaos.
Sometimes structure helps us reach beyond the everyday. For me, it is the triathlon training class I attend every Monday. For you it may be the interior design class you enrolled in, the yoga program, or the gardening clinic. Structure and external support do wonders for us, particularly when we have consciously chosen to make a change.
And how great is it when a structure provides multiple benefits? My main reason for triathlon training is to keep my mind occupied and my body busy during my son’s deployment. But I am very excited about how much better my body feels, and the half pound weight loss I’ve been enjoying most weeks for the last month. Slow and steady really feels good.
All this proves to me, yet again, that my belief that Discipline is the price you pay for freedom—is powerful. Every day I look at my training program, and no matter how blue I’m feeling or how busy my day gets, I have this solid commitment that I won’t go to bed before I get in my swim or my run.
Small successes are a great motivator to keep going. Even if I’m slow or out of breath today, I feel so proud of myself for just getting it done, no matter how sloppy it was. The payoff is in the persistence.
What structures are available to you today? What promise can you make yourself that you will keep before you go to bed tonight? Small successes get me through the weeks when I don’t lose that hoped for half pound. I put my swimsuit on and paddle anyway, with the promise that tomorrow will be the day to find my edge.
We each have to bottle enough hope at the end of the day to try again tomorrow.
Bottling hope. It’s what I do everyday now.
Military families experience change more often than most. Those that are good at it, learn to accept and go with the flow. Resistance only heightens the stress and the dizziness of it all.
I know. I am the mom of a deploying soldier. He left six days ago. Military life truly is a “hurry up and wait” world. And as a professional in the world of change and transition, I find it particularly fascinating to observe my own behavior and that of friends and family around me.
I am beginning to understand the fundamentals of transition in an even deeper way, as this is our second turn at this experience. First, the military experience teaches you much about patience in the face of that which you cannot control. I cannot control that my country chooses to be at war in Afghanistan. While I can make my personal wishes known in my vote, I am subject to the wishes of all my countrymen.
Second, I cannot control the choices my son makes. He chose to be in the military, and it is a career choice that has served him well. Though none of us is excited about deployment, I can be proud that his sense of service and duty rises above his personal needs, and he performs his duty. I, on the other hand, got drafted into this job.
Doesn’t the most profound change often come when we are drafted into it? Whether it is a lay off from a job, the arrival of children, or someone falling ill in the family, drafted we are. Curve balls like this force us into the best possible opportunities for choosing on purpose. We work very hard in our family to not wallow and worry about our son. To worry is human. But to wallow is giving in to stuckness. We choose to talk the experience through, to find ways to stay busy (which is why I’m training for a triathlon), and to keep our eye on the ball of living life.
Getting drafted into a change isn’t easy, but the steps to manage it are simple. We launch ourselves into work that is fulfilling, seek to discover what else we can learn from it, and decide to dock in a place that keeps our spirits up and the worries at bay.
Support above all. I tell people about my situation. It allows me to experience the pride of having others recognize my son’s service, appreciate their gratitude, and talk about the experience in a positive way. I used to think this was kind of selfish, but I got over myself on that, and decided that it’s OK to put out there what I need during a time like this.
So put yourself out there. Let others know what you’re all about and what you need to survive and thrive. You’ll be there for them when they need it.
A good friend recently wrote an article about fitness for the new year, and she titled it I Go to the Gym. I liked the notion so much, that I’ve stolen her core concept to talk about the first triathlon I’ve signed up to compete in.
The core concept is that once we name a goal, and share it with other people, we bolster our ability to reach our goal. Not new news, but worth revisiting. Sometimes we just announce it to ourselves in the mirror, so we’ll have the fortitude to go to the gym today. And sometimes we tell other people. “Hey, guess what I’m doing this year? I signed up to do a triathlon. Crazy, huh?!”
Whichever it is, the more we say it out loud, the more we believe in our ability to accomplish it. So I researched online about triathlons before New Year’s Day. I told my husband, my kids, and a couple of friends I was training for a triathlon. I had a workout plan, a race picked out. I was ready.
Then I got distracted, busy, didn’t quite keep up with the schedule. So I sat myself down for a good talking to. Really, I had already told a few people. Was I going to turn into a little liar? Why hadn’t I signed up? Was I afraid of the commitment?
I was afraid. Afraid of taking on something new. Particularly afraid of getting back on my bike, as I had a bad fall a few years ago and haven’t biked much since. But there was a deeper fear. You see, my son is about to deploy to Afghanistan for a second time, and that makes me scared.
So where to put all this fear? It’s normal to be afraid of war. There would be something wrong with me if I weren’t. But my son has trained for this dangerous job, and the best way to honor him is to get past my own fears. So I’m getting busy working on a new goal.
Hard? Yes. Challenging? You bet. Will there be tears along the way? Of course—some because I’ve pushed my body too hard, and some out of worry about him.
But I love that I can shout out to the world, “I am a triathlete!” It doesn’t matter if I’m slow, or not a great swimmer. What matters is that I’m aware of my fears and I’m channeling them somewhere productive. I’ll keep you posted on the progress.
I’m proud to report that I finally did sign up for the race two days ago. And since it’s a hundred buck investment, you can be sure I’m going to show up for it.
So how are you channeling your fears? Not every one is as big as this one, but I can vouch for the importance of moving your body to move past the fear. It focuses my heart in a new direction and keeps my mind sharp. And what better way to face fear than that?
These last few weeks have brought me several occasions to contemplate this great thought from Lao Tzu:
“Do you have the patience to wait until the mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you wait until the right action arises by itself?”
Even though I love my work and have been very busy, like all of you, there are moments when things seem to go out of focus. It’s like being in the midst of a muddy puddle, and finding yourself unable to see. During times like this it’s hard to be patient. I find myself becoming everything but — becoming angry, frustrated, sad, disoriented, and floating.
It would be nice to say that since I’m in the business of helping people with change and transition that I have the answers, and therefore should not have to struggle so much. Ah, if only life worked that way!
As I’m fond of saying in workshops, “What I know, is not what I do!” Just because I know about the stages of change, the process we all go through when we are in transition — that doesn’t mean that I can master it when I am in the middle of it. Because, as I also remind groups, when I’m part of the mess, it makes no matter what my intellectual skills are. The bottom of my brain, where emotion stews, has this habit of taking over.
But, given time, and the discipline of keeping busy, continuing to plug away at my work, the mud really does begin to settle. And if I’m patient enough, right action will arise by itself. The trick is, to try not to push it into being. There is nothing worse than creating a false goal, just to make yourself supposedly feel good about “moving the ball forward”, even though you know in your heart it’s not the right goal.
So as the mud settles, it allows me to begin to see more clearly. For me, right now, it’s having too many ideas to pursue, and figuring out how to do one thing at a time. Sound familiar? Whatever mud is getting in your way, I hope you’ll join me in becoming patient and waiting for the water to clear. It’s no wonder everyone has always told us that patience is a virtue. That’s what we call stuff that is really hard to do!
So as the holiday season spins up, let’s all take some time to spin down, let the mud settle, and wait for clarity to come to us.
This is my first opportunity to write for the Choose on Purpose blog as a graduate student. I hope to provide you with some interesting insights, opinions and funny anecdotes as I navigate the world that is business school.
The transition from the working world back to school has been interesting to say the least. Schedule, expectations, focus among many other things shift in a vastly different direction. I have had to reacquaint myself with reading, seemingly endless textbooks, taking vigorous notes and blocking study time on Sunday nights (something I always tried to avoid in my undergrad years).
The basic transition from work to school isn’t nearly as exciting as the intellectual transition. What a great time to be studying business! At no point in recent history has economics, marketing, accounting, strategy and IT been more relevant and more fun to learn. I did take a few business courses in my undergrad, but that was 2002 and the world was a much different place. The rules of business were still the same but the context wasn’t as exciting.
I’ll leave you with one thought on some career advice my class received from one of our professors a few weeks back. He said,
“In your career, there must be three things that happen for you to be happy and successful. (1) You must be learning something (2) You must be applying what you learn and (3) You must be having fun. If you can say “yes” to 2 out of 3 of these factors you are pretty well off. If you can’t you must move on.”
I was amazed at how simple, yet how profound this advice was. It’s probably the best piece of career advice I’ve received and it’s something I won’t soon forget.
I hope you enjoyed this edition and I look forward to sharing with you my adventures as I work towards a graduate degree and new career.