Sunday, June 26, 2011

'The Only One Who Really Likes Change... a wet baby.' Unk.

Recently, I had occasion to talk about change as our organization prepares to experience a major change in many important processes. The reality is that even people who handle change well have something they don’t want anyone to mess with! It’s true in our organizations, but it’s just as true in our daily lives. And it is a rare person who goes through life able to stay flexible enough to keep trying new things as they go.

In a few days I turn 55 and the list of things I’ll never do does grow. I’ll never play a professional sport – not that such a goal was ever in my future, but it’s certainly not now. I’ll never get to ride on a supersonic jet that crosses the Atlantic Ocean and lands before it left. I don’t expect to reach the top of Mt. Everest. On the other hand, I have another list – the practice of yoga, teaching yoga, competing in national ballroom dance competitions, writing for people to read (this blog and my office’s bi-weekly newsletter to name two examples) – all things I’ve begun since I turned 40. None of these are really surprising as most flow from activities or kinds of activities I’ve done before and there wasn’t much resistance to overcome.

On the other hand, I’ve been sure for most of my life (54 years or so) that I’m not any more able to draw than, at 5”4’, I’m able to slam dunk a basketball. It didn’t matter that my husband, who can draw wonderfully has told me many times that if I would just take a class I could learn to draw. I knew better. Of course, you know the moral of the story. The picture at the top of this is something I’ve drawn. Now, I haven’t turned out to be an amazing prodigy, but who cares, I’m able to draw and I’m enjoying drawing.

There are so many ways our ideas about what we can and can’t do limit our ability to do those activities and many other things besides. One of the ways we can learn to handle change is to practice changing. One of the ways we can practice changing is to try new activities, stretch our ideas about what we can and can’t do, and in doing so, find out we can survive changes.

So what’s on your list of things you can’t do? Some may be realistic – no Olympic bobsledding for me. But some activities on the list may be there because you’re afraid of trying something new, or are unwilling to do something badly, or any other of the many reasons we’re sure that We. Can’t. Do It!

I suggest you actually write down your list of things you’ll never do and look at the list thoughtfully. You may have to admit that serving on the space shuttle may not be in your future. But you may also have to admit that there are items on the list that you just never tried. Try it – maybe you won’t be any good at it and you can say you were right. But maybe, just maybe, the worst will happen and you’ll have to admit your ideas were the only thing stopping you and you’ll actually learn a new skill!

Have fun,


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