In my last blog, I focused on the overwhelming and ever present reality of change, and our need to adapt and respond to it, not merely to survive, but to get better and thrive. Most of us exhibit avoidance, dislike and fear when it comes to facing change. I want to continue honestly exploring the root cause for this overall negative reaction to change, and to share some ideas for turning the tide. Perhaps in doing so, I can get better at taking on change and so can you.

In dealing with change and getting ourselves “unstuck” from our old, engrained responses to change, I have identified three barriers:

  1. The first barrier is called “I don’t get it.” To overcome this barrier, you must gain understanding of why the desired change is good and necessary. Overcoming this barrier starts by addressing the business case, the logical, often financial-driven analysis to explain “why” the change is necessary, what will likely happen if we stay on the current course, the costs and benefits, etc.
  2. The second barrier is called “I don’t have the skills.” Overcoming this barrier is about equipping, training and obtaining the resources required to deal with and optimize the desired change.
  3. The third barrier is called “I don’t want to.” This is the most difficult barrier to overcome, and this is where I want to go deeper in my understanding. Why is it that even when I totally “get” why the desired change is good and necessary, and even when I have obtained the “skills” needed to implement the change, I still simply don’t want to get started, put forth the effort and stay the course?

Perhaps you’d like to hear a familiar story? Once upon a time I started an exercise program, a healthier eating plan, a business development initiative, and/or a financial savings project [you fill in the blank] with whole-hearted enthusiasm. Then I lost momentum, fell off the wagon, got discouraged, and showed meager returns. In short, I FAILED, and in the face of such failure, I quit and never tried again. The end.

Should we take failure as a “sign” that we weren’t really “supposed” to take on and achieve the new way after all? Or should we take failure as confirmation that we really don’t have what it takes to accomplish the needed change? Should we bother getting restarted? Why bother trying again when it obviously didn’t work the first time? And why give history a chance to repeat itself?

Sometimes pointing out the obvious can be infuriating, but did you ever consider that you’re not alone in this failure thing? We all get started, do well for awhile, and then fail. Everyone fails. Even the ones who seem to be doing well, who seem to have it all and to have it all together? Yes, even those people.

So, what is the difference between those who ultimately succeed and those who don’t? I’d like to suggest the idea of humility. What is humility? It is not negativity or beating yourself up. Practicing humility is not being a pessimistic, gloomy donkey, like Eeyore. Oh, bother. Instead, humility encompasses self-honesty, straight talk, truth, and the willingness to listen.

In humility, successful people admit they don’t have what is needed to succeed by themselves. They seek the wisdom of others. They ask for help. They submit to coaching and even criticism around what they need to do to cross the goal line. They understand their strengths and admit their weaknesses. They acknowledge their need for help and seek the help they need, and they don’t resist it, dismiss it, or waive it off.

In humility, people acknowledge that no one succeeds alone. The “Lone Wolf” model does not work. We need others to succeed and they need us. In the ancient wisdom of King Solomon:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

In addition to practicing humility and teaming with others, you must avoid the two biggest saboteurs of success: trying to do too much at once and losing track of what’s important. These inevitably bring discouragement – and a little voice in your head saying, “I told you so! This will never work, why bother, you can’t do it, just give up!” Is the little voice correct? Should you listen to it and obey it? I say, NO! Instead:

  • Consider what have you learned from your failure or setback and what improvements or changes can you make when you get restarted
  • Reconfirm and restate why achieving the change matters, and why you started pursuing it in the first place.
  • Acknowledge (again and again) your need for help outside of yourself – what knowledge do you need to learn, what skills do you need to gain, who do you need to seek out and team with for coaching and skills you don’t possess?
  • Finally, read my colleague Krista Remer’s blog entitled “Persevering When the Pressure is On: Life Lessons from Wimbledon Part 2” for further insight around Change: Getting Restarted

We will continue to help our clients to learn and grow and succeed at life by addressing the hard but rewarding work of change. If you have any ideas or experiences around getting “restarted” after a setback in the change process, please post them so others can benefit.

Best regards,