We find ourselves at the beginning of another new year. Without much effort, it could feel a lot like the years that have just past. I very much hope for a different outcome. Experiencing differently, though, requires doing differently. To that end, I am stepping out of my comfort zone and shifting gears a little bit as we go forward. Part of the reason for that shift is professional, without question. Some if it is also very personal, as I challenge myself to take on new experiences and show up in different ways than I have in the past.
We are all familiar with the expression “the elephant in the room.” It is something that I have come to expect and even seek out when facilitating others. The reality, though, is that we each have our own personal pachyderms that dutifully follow us through life and haunt our work. The longer that we put off doing things, the more that we defer problems and the longer that we avoid pursuing our goals and ambitions, the larger and more omnipresent becomes the grey mammoth in our grey matter. You can learn to make the elephant go away. First, though, you need to recognize it for what it is, and what it represents.
It is one thing to design what you want your new normal to look like. Getting there is a different matter, and one that is important to acknowledge. You may feel completely confident about your decisions and choices in the moment. Enacting them, communicating them and sharing them with others can be its own challenge. Whether you are trying to make changes at work, personally or in your relationships, part of getting what you want will involve negotiating with others. There is no one more challenging to negotiate with than yourself.
As we respond to the chaos around us, it can be tempting to look forward to when we are past this and “things are normal again.” Our current environment feels overwhelming and uncertain. The most appealing thing is to hide under a blanket. The most strategically important thing might be to take action. The key challenge lies in defining the action to take, and figuring out how best to coordinate and lead in a time where nothing feels certain.
I have been a consultant working inside organizations for three decades and more. In that time, I have been involved in the creation of numerous methodologies and practices, and the implementation of many organizational change efforts. I have described myself as an organizational consultant of some variety or other. So you might reasonably assume that I consider my clients to be the organizations that I serve. You couldn’t be further from the truth.
Feedback and criticism are generally seen as negative. We don’t like it, we get defensive and we very often resist it. That deflection is often our brains looking for the easy way out. And it’s arguably keeping us from doing our best work.