The Hard Part is Letting Go

trapeze artists

The only way to successfully grab onto something new is to let go of the old ...

I am an individual who really likes change. I like change in my life, and I love working with organizations and individuals on how to envision, navigate and sustain change. However, there is a bit too much change going on in my personal life right now!  It's all positive change, but that doesn't make it any easier to weather the rough waters right now.  Our best friends moved away. I have another great friend moving to California for a year. My son-in-law has graduated from college and in the job search has put that he is open to move "anywhere" (that would mean having the 3 year old grandson move away - not to mention my daughter).  My youngest son is getting married and has graduated from college - time to find a job!  Those are just the big changes - add in all the small ones and it begins to feel as if all parts of my life are in flux. That is not at all true, but can feel like that at times.

All of this has brought my change management consulting back into the forefront of my mind. I want to share 2 simple change concepts with you today that have helped me greatly over the years, and I hope that you can use them in your own lives.

#1 - The hardest part of any change is letting go. We tend to focus our energy on the new (new job, new house, new baby, new haircut, new boss, etc.).  That tends to be the exciting part of change - the reason that we DO change in the first place. The harder part of the change, that typically gets overlooked, is the letting go. I love this picture of the two trapeze artists. You know that the woman on the left doesn't want to hang onto her trapeze forever - she really wants to grab onto her friend's hands.  Yet, there is an instant where she is just so afraid to let go of that very comfortable swing.  She can't do both.  The only way to be successful is to let go. It can be scary to let go. We may let go and fall flat on our face. It may hurt. It may not work out. It may not be as great as we thought it was going to be.  But, until we truly let go, we cannot embrace the new.  We don't see the safety net in this picture, yet you know they have (or had) one.  PQ - What is a change that you want to make but are afraid to? What  is the safety net you need in order to let go of the old?

#2 - All change involves loss. That is actually the reason that letting go is so hard. We can miss things that we didn't enjoy or appreciate because at least they were familiar. We often mourn the loss of familiarity. When we have been doing something for a long time, we start to take things for granted. We no longer have to really think about what we are doing - it's automatic. It isn't until you have let go and step into the new place that you realize what you miss.  You can actually anticipate the loss if you try. If you can anticipate or predict the loss, then you can better manage the change and not be so surprised or frustrated when you start to feel how different things are. Does that makes sense to you?  Plus, we have the greatest opportunity to learn (about things, about others, about ourselves) during times of change.  As humans, we try to skip over it - pretend that it isn't hard to let go  or pretend that we know how to do everything in the new place. That's just not true! Let's not skip the learning. Dig into the time between old and new and learn. PQ - Think of an upcoming change in your life. What are you going to miss? What is going away? What will never be the same again?

For more on what I believe to be an essential life skill,  I highly recommend reading a short little book by William Bridges. It's about 30 years old, but as relevant today as the day it was written.

Transitions

Embrace the changes that come your way!

Everyone knows someone who struggles with change. Please do me and them a favor-forward them the link to this blog today and encourage them to signup.  THANK YOU!

Time to change how you think about time

Worry and time have an inverse relationship. The more you have of one, the less you have of the other; Yet curiously, both are suspended when you live in the now...Mike Dooley I spend an inordinate amount of time coaching clients in and around the topic of time.

"I wish I had more time."

"I have too much to do in the time I have."

"Time just flies."

"I am constantly worried about not getting things done on time."

"I am overwhelmed by how much I have to do and how little time I have to do it in."

Have you ever found yourself stressing about time? I want to share a bit of my own wisdom on the topic this week, as well as some wisdom from my favorite book, Pause.

In working with a client a couple of years ago, I was struck by how often she used the words "overwhelmed" or "frantic" or "crazy". It's hard for me to picture anyone being terribly effective when they are beginning from a mindset of being frenzied or overwhelmed. As we delved into the issue, we discovered that as long as she thought she was overwhelmed - she was. The words in her mind dictated how she dealt with her day. If you have a choice of how you want to deal with your day, it seems to me that frenzied of overwhelmed should not be the choices you make. I gave her a simple (NOT easy) challenge - You don't get to say anything about being overwhelmed or having too much to do. You can say you have a lot to do, but it can't be too much to do."  She tried it for a few weeks, and noticed a difference. More energy -more of a sense of being in control - more satisfied with what she was getting done. Not bad results for simply changing the words she allowed herself to use, is it?   I had a similar story with a male client who was making his team crazy by saying how crazy busy he was.  His craziness was rubbing off on them, and they all began to be anxious about how much stuff he had to do and the fact that he was not getting it done.  Again, we tried the strategy of changing his language and it worked. The work didn't go away. He didn't get more resources. He still had a lot to do. The team settled down. He settled down.  Life went on in a calmer way.

In the book, Pause, they suggest we would do well to change our mindset about time.  There's a saying in skydiving: "Slow is smooth and smooth is fast." This saying reminds the skydiver to think slowly, to focus on the task in the moment and feel the smoothness. In that flow, speed happens all by itself. How much time do you spend each day worrying about not having enough time? It takes self-awareness to realize that you are caught up in worry and slow down enough to free yourself from it.

First, pause and become aware that you are worrying about time. Next, accept it without pushing it away - it is what it is. Next, choose a different thought like "there's enough time to do the important things" or "I have enough time to do the things I think are essential."  Be like a great skydiver - fast, fluid and calm.

PQ - Experiment - notice - practice. When you find yourself worrying about time, what can you tell yourself when you believe you are short on time that will take you out of the worry?

Pause ...

This post is as much for me as it is for you. I have recently found myself shifting from one thing to another at a rapid pace. While I would be the first to say that I don't relax well and I like to stay busy, I have wondered if my choices would be different if I hit the pause button once in awhile. I move quickly past things that I perhaps should stay with a bit longer. In both my personal life (friends) and professional life (clients), I find that we are all on a fast track to ... I am not sure where  exactly, but we are definitely moving there at a fast pace. This concept of pausing is about more than being in the moment, it's about bringing mindfulness to our lives - thinking through possibilities and reframing a situation in order to get a different perspective. It can be incredibly helpful to look at a situation through a different frame, and while it may take a little more time, it mostly takes practice.  I have found an awesome resource that can help us develop this practice. It's called Pause, 52 Ways to Shift Any Outcome in Less Than a Minute.  There is a book and a deck of cards that serve as short, poignant reminders of ways that we can get out of the mindless racetrack and move into a more thoughtful, intentional, choiceful approach to life.

pause

For this week's PQ, I chose one that truly speaks to me right now ... let me know what this question stirs up for you.

Pause #12 - Accept What Is

"In business, as in life, we often learn more from failure than from success. When we experience failure we have an opportunity to learn. we must first embrace that opportunity and accept the situation as it is. To accept what has happened does not mean to agree with it, to love it, or to be resigned to it. With acceptance comes the energy to deal productively with something not wanted. What are you pushing away, avoiding, or ignoring? Try accepting what is. This means you say to yourself 'Okay, it's like this. This is what is in front of me. This is what I get to deal with.' Pause and accept. Transform the current situation into learning. Now you have the power to create something new."

PQ - What do you need to accept?

Only 29 days to change, huh?

At the core of all the work I do, both in my consulting/coaching business and as a Jazzercise instructor, is CHANGE. I love change. I love that people struggle with change. I love that change keeps us on our toes, and gives us opportunities to stretch and grow. It only makes sense that I am continually reading books and articles about how to change - better, faster, cheaper, easier, with less angst, with longer lasting results, without getting or giving gray hair, without losing your job or damaging relationships. There are always old habits or ways of doing things that need to be altered in the process. Recently I bought a book

29 DAYS ... to a habit you want!

I am not suggesting you go out and spend $9.99 to buy this book. I'm not even sure that I completely buy into his model for change, but I do think there are some nuggets in the book that make sense. How about if you just trust me to share the nuggets that I think are worth a try?  It's what I do; I read books and ponder what I read and then write a blogpost about it. You, my lucky subscribers, get the best part of books for free and very little time spent reading.

I will try and summarize his model for change and then give you the powerful question that could lead you to action. Fast (the author) claims that it is a rare individual who can make a change for the positive with just willpower. Willpower exists in the conscious part of our brain, and that part of our brain is only engaged for erratic parst of any 24 hour period. On the other hand, our subconscious is running 24 hours a day, so what we need to do is rewire our subconscious with the change or new habit. The subconscious mind fears change, so we need to sneak up on it with tiny, bite sized chunks of change.  Example: I want to stop losing my temper when an employee (or family member) does something that disappoints me. That is too big and too vague and sheer willpower cannot get us there. Not only that, but our goal is stated in the negative. Our subconscious will get stuck on the word "temper" - you cannot stop losing your temper until you acknowledge you are losing it, and that is what our subconscious focuses on.  The way to change this habit is to first state your goal in positive terms.  If you want to stop losing your temper, what do you want to do (think in the positive)?  Perhaps you want to react to situations with less emotion or you want to react to disappointments with a calm demeanor ... maybe that isn't exactly how you would state it, but you get my point? It's not what you want to STOP doing, it's what you want to START doing.   That is the first thing I want you to try ... take a habit you would like to ditch (eating fast food, drinking pop, shopping when you don't have money to spend, swearing, being sedentary, yelling at your kids, watching too much TV) and state in the affirmative.  What is the thing you want to do - NOT the thing you want to stop doing?

Got it?   Let me explain the other nugget that I think makes sense and is worth trying!

Now that you have your goal stated in the affirmative, think of one little thing you could do that day that would move you closer to your goal.

"I will eat a healthy breakfast today."

"I will read a book tonight for 15 minutes."

"I will drink a glass of water before I have my first cup of coffee or can of pop."

"I will turn off the TV and play with the kids tonight for 15 minutes."

"I will read and respond to one old email in my inbox this morning before I do anything else."

Is that starting to make sense?  You identify a baby step. And, then you do it. You do it every day for several days. Fast says that this starts to set up new thought paths from your subconscious to your conscious brain and your thoughts become altered. When you realize you can do that, you stretch your tiny goal. You then go through the same process for several days. Eventually, you have altered your thought patterns in a positive way and you believe, at a subconscious level, that you are living your goal. You can take the goal as far as you want. He shared a story of a depressed, overweight, sedentary, exhausted single mom at the end of her rope that changed her life by accepting the challenge to march in place during one commercial while she watched TV at night. It's a fascinating story to see how she moved from that tiny, almost meaningless goal, to a lifestyle where she had good energy, lost weight, went back to school and got a better job. It really is nothing short of a miracle, and it started with a tiny thought stated in the affirmative.

DISCLAIMERS

I did not explain all the neuroscience behind his 29 days change model, nor did I check his sources for validity.

I have not tried this model yet.

COMMITMENT

I am going to try this with my book writing project, and I'll keep you posted on it. I have been trying to write a book for 2 years and it's not going very well.  I am sick and tired of talking about it - I want to do it.  So, I am going to apply the 2 steps above (state my goal in the affirmative and identify little things that can get me closer to my larger goal) and see how it goes.

POWERFUL QUESTION/CHALLENGE

What is a habit that you want to change (personal, family, work)? Word it in the affirmative and get it into your subconscious (first thought in the morning and last at night)

What is one small thing you can do to move closer to your goal today?

SHARE

If you are willing, I would love to hear about your affirmative goals and your baby steps. Share with us in the comments section.

GOOD LUCK TO ALL OF US WITH OUR EXPERIMENT!

What kind of TRIBES do you belong to?

According to 3 people, who did a ton of research and developed an interesting theory - there are 5 levels of  employee tribal development. With new books being written about leadership everyday, it is often difficult to find one that has a fresh take on the topic. Check out the TED video below, and if it peaks your interest, order the book. What kind of tribes exist in your organization (HINT - families are organizations, too) and how do you nudge your tribe to the next level? LIFE SUCKS!

MY LIFE SUCKS!

I'M GREAT AND YOU'RE NOT!

WE'RE GREAT!

LIFE IS GREAT!

 

 

 

 

 

Just reading the phrases that label how each of those 5 levels see themselves and life, I bet you are interested in moving your tribe to the next level - wouldn't the world be a better place if more people were thinking LIFE IS GREAT instead of LIFE SUCKS?   I invite you to check out TRIBAL LEADERSHIP!

Tribal leadership book cover

Trust - it's tricky (thus a very long post this week)

Recently, I found myself in a leadership session where trust was the topic on the table.  This group and I were working through Five Dysfunctions of a Team  and trust is the foundational element of a functional team, according to Lencioni. If you are reading this and are thinking “I don’t really work on a team” think again.  I am using the word ‘team’ loosely here and teams come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Your family is a team, you and your spouse or significant other are a team,  perhaps you play on or coach a team, and maybe you serve on a committee that is working as a team --- each of those ‘groups’ needs trust. If you don’t have trust, you can forget about having a team. As a matter of fact, you can forget about having any strong, healthy relationship if trust is absent.

Think of the best team you were ever a part of, or the best relationship you have ever had with someone. Trust is at the core of those relationships, isn’t it?  What great things were you able to do because you had trust?

Stop Sign

and think

 

Well, in my line of work, trust can be a very squishy thing.  It’s hard to talk about – hard to define – makes people feel uncomfortable – yet, if the team wants to improve the results they are getting, they have to address the topic of trust at some point.

 What would get better in your life if you could improve the trust in one relationship?

Stop Sign

 and think

 

Until I read this book, Speed of Trust, I tended to think trust was either there with someone or not there, and once you lost it, it was very difficult, if not impossible to get back. I don’t intend to download Covey’s entire book on trust to you, but I do want to share one simple concept that has shifted or expanded my thoughts on trust. Covey says that trusting someone involves two key parts:

1)      Character – their intent, motives, ethics, agenda

2)      Competence – their skills, experience, knowledge

When we say “I don’t trust him”, we need to dig further. Which part of the trust is missing (or both parts in some cases)?  Is it the person’s character that is making you feel queasy?  Or is it the lack of competence they bring?

Let’s try examples (from my life):

Scenario #1 – I am going to be out of town for a week in the summer. The weather forecast is for HOT weather and I am worried about my hanging flower baskets being able to survive without water every day. Who can I trust to keep my flowers alive?  I play the character card first. What about Rick? I’m married to him and I trust him implicitly.  Oh wait, let’s check the competence card.  He is really busy right now. He works long days. When he gets home at night, he won’t likely think about my poor thirsty flowers; plus, he isn’t great with flowers. He will probably overwater them or not water them enough or not water them every day and they will die.  So, I might not trust Rick to care for my flowers.  Go back to the character card. What about Barbara? I would trust her with anything and anyone that was important to me. AND, she is great with flowers. I’ve seen her flowers and I know that she would take good care of them.  I have now found someone that has both the character and competence for me to trust them with my precious hanging flower baskets (in all actuality, I don’t trust myself to water my hanging baskets and they die by mid-July most years, so this is a pretty poor example to use).

hanging-basket-102B

Scenario #2 – I have a request for some client work that is too big for me to handle alone; I need to find someone to do this work with me. I quickly go down my list of options and come to Ryan (fictitious to protect the innocent), who is very skilled and has great experience. He gets a thumbs up on the competence part of trust. As I think more about working with Ryan though, I begin to get uneasy – an unsettled feeling in my stomach. What is it? I realize I don’t trust Ryan’s character. This is my client and I don’t trust that Ryan will not get in the door with me and begin to build his own relationship and take work away from me. I’ve seen it before and there always seems to be a hidden agenda with Ryan. In this case, his competence is not enough to overcome the lack of trust I have in his character.

Does this make sense to you? Since I read this book, I catch myself thinking about trust in these two categories all the time and it is really helpful. We won’t take time this week to discuss what you do when you have a lack of trust in someone’s character or competence, but I am sure your mind is going there already. To talk with someone about not trusting them is very difficult, but in my experience, it is even more difficult to talk with someone about their lack of character than their lack of competence.  Competence is tied to what I do. Character is tied to who I am being.  That is messy stuff!   Covey’s book is full of great stuff on trust … I invite you to read it and share your thoughts on trust with us!

speed of trust book cover

Too busy for the small stuff?

Watch this video (just click on the book) ...then ... read on!     

If I were to name the word that I hear most often in conversations these days, I would say BUSY!  I don’t think that BUSY is all it is cracked up to be. People wear BUSY like a badge of honor – as though NOT being busy is a bad thing. Webster defines busy as occupied, full of bustle, not free.  If we actually think about those definitions, I believe we can see a dark side.

Occupied – as in “someone is in here – don’t come in” (picture the signs on the bathroom door on an airplane). When we are busy, we are choosing to keep others out. Quite often, we need to do this – we need time to focus, get things done, or be alone with our thoughts. However, I sometimes see people  use busy/occupied as a way to lock others out and appear to not have time for anything else. Heaven knows, I have been guilty of this.

Full of bustle –as in scurrying around, full of people or things. When we are in a place that is bustling, it can be energizing or it can be draining.  Quiet and bustle do not coexist. When we are always in a place in our lives (I don’t mean a specific location)  that is full of bustle, we have no time to decompress or reflect or be alone with ourselves.

Not free – as in unavailable. I know some people that are never available to anyone or anything. They are not free. Imagine not being available to your family, your staff, your boss, your friends. You may be physically there, but you aren’t available. If you’re not free, it’s like being imprisoned … only imprisoned in your own scheduled life.

You can probably hear my bias about being busy. I'm SICK OF IT!!! I still find myself being too busy, but I am working at being less so. My coach and I worked on the idea that I need to create some space – some unbusy, unscheduled space to let in whatever is wanting to get into my life.  The space may be for someone or something, but the new won’t be able to come into my life if I don’t create some space.  I don’t think the space we create has to be big, and that is why I love the video about small talk (and the book – The Power of Small).  Notice what happened in the lives of these two women in a simple 30 seconds a few times a week.  When we are FREE and not BUSY, we can find the time to say hello to someone or write a note or make a quick call.  I really believe that out of small things can come huge benefits – to us or someone else. 

Will you try something with me?  Let’s stop talking about how busy we are  this week– let’s find a way to be UNOCCUPIED, NON-BUSTLING, and FREE.  Make a small space for something wonderful to happen. No powerful question this week – just a powerful request!