Tag Archives: change

Change and the “Too Long” Syndrome

Clichés*.  Though it is in vogue to see clichés as “silly”, I for one have always found them refreshing.  In our politically correct world, clichés are actually one of the few ways we are allowed to tell the truth without fear of offending.  “Change is never easy” is a classic, and it is one we hear and use frequently in our business.  Changing jobs, roles and careers.  Relocating.  Changes in family status, economic status, relationship status, or a host of other areas, change is, as the saying goes, “never easy”. Clichés exist because they are true.

Have had the good fortune to reconnect with quite a few old friends, long time business partners, and just a lot of folks who I had not seen in a while. Just been one of those months. And as always happens, the conversation always turns to the classic “how have things been” question.  Typically there is a “since…” lingering at the end of that question.  Since the move, since starting the new job, since whatever life event.  Not always, but certainly more often than not, the conversation ultimately includes the phrase “too long”.  It is absolutely amazing, the majority of the time, once the change has come, folks wish it had happened earlier.

Started jotting down some of the phrases we hear quite often when it comes to change:

– “I waited too long”

– “should have done it x years earlier”

– “I stayed too long”

– “it was long overdue”

– “so much happier”

– “was so comfortable with what I knew”

– “never realized how unhappy”

– “grown complacent”

– “in such a better place”

– “so much better off”

Change is never easy.  It is the question of unknowns, of “what ifs”, of starting over, of friction, of uncertainty, of “walking away from a good thing”, of “the devil you know vs. the devil you don’t know”.  It is scary.  It is emotionally draining.  It is challenging.  It is often physically hard.  It might be financially costly.  Change can come by choice, or it can be forced on you.  It can be expected or totally unexpected.  Regardless of what it is, how it comes, what it entails, or otherwise involves, it is never easy.

It is always great to see old friends, to renew old acquaintances, to just enjoy the company of others.  But it is absolutely reassuring to know that much more often than any of us realize, change brings about good.  New opportunities, new relationships, renewed purpose, energy and yes even fun.  It is cliché, but change is not something to fear, rather it is something to be embraced.  Easier said than done, but it has been nice to have that reminder.

* not sure the final count, but I know I used a lot…

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Resolutionites and the Fiscal Cliff

The start of a new year, a time when we are encouraged to look both forward and back.  To reflect on what was and to embrace what could be, to wipe the slate clean and start anew.  Or, for those of us who find ourselves going to a gym occasionally, to wade through the herd of “resolutionites”.  It is that timeless January story – the locker room overrun, the fitness classes packed, lines for the cardio machines, and the weight room echoing with the sound of crashing plates and stacks.  Yep, it is a new year at the gym.  As hectic and frenzied as it is now, by early March it will be back to normal.

Not to get all political, but it was impossible to escape the “Fiscal Cliff” news over the holidays.  And with the start of the new year came the message that the crisis had been averted, an agreement reached, and action taken.  Yet, less than a week later, we hear more chatter of how politicians “kicked the can down the road”, that while a crisis was averted, massive issues remain.  As hectic and frenzied as things were, for all the drama and tension, we find ourselves right back where we were.  Nothing has really changed.

What the resolutionites at the gym and our political “leaders” have done is remind us that nothing really changes unless fundamental, underlying, core issues are truly addressed.  Going to a gym or working out are great behaviours, yet the real goal of fitness, weight loss or improved mental and physical health will not be achieved unless the underlying reasons behind an unhealthy lifestyle are addressed.  Similarly, the underlying reasons for the “Fiscal Cliff” were not addressed.  Some of the immediate symptoms were sort of addressed, but the reasons and behaviours that lead to this crisis remain.  In the end, the majority of New Year’s Resolutions fail because they target behaviours, not causes.

Thanks to the drone of the news and the lines in the gym, we are reminded that lasting change only comes when foundational causes are addressed.  It is true for the resolutionites in the gym, for political leaders, and for all of us.  A new year is a convenient, but an entirely arbitrary moment in time, but it is as good a time as any to really make a change…if you really want to.

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Learning From Michael Vick?

Ironic sometimes how timing is everything.  The same weekend we have an old friend in town is the same weekend Michael Vick makes the news…again.  Certainly there is no real link between the two. However, after a weekend spent chatting with a seasoned educator and administrator who happens to also be a Doctor of Education (an Ed.D not a Ph.D as he likes to say), I was reminded how environment has enormous impact on situations and outcomes.  Education, learning, business, life – one’s environment does matters.  It is not the only thing, but it is something.

To even the casual observer, the story of Michael Vick is just another example of the rapid rise and dramatic fall of yet another professional athlete.  Sordid details of dog fighting rings, hangers-on, and other colorful gems litter the biography of the man.  I will admit a particular interest in the story – I lived in Virgina in the early to mid 90’s and remember the stories of two gifted high school athletes.  Michael Vick the football player and the Allen Iverson the basketball player.  Both were from Newport News – a pit of crime, poverty and violence.  It was the beginnings of their rags to riches story.  Stories I just happened to follow a little more than most over the years.

So this week brings us another story of Michael Vick, this one involving a shooting at his birthday party. As of now he is not officially accused of, nor linked to the crime, but there is no question that it was at his party and that the victim was an acquaintance and part of his dog fighting ring.  What struck me is not that the events happened, but rather where and who was involved.  Michael Vick finds himself right back in the same old situation – the same area, the same friends, and inevitably the same problems.  In spite of everything that has happened in his life, all the chances he has been given, all the opportunities he has been afforded, he has yet to change his environment.

Unfortunately we hear it all to often in business; folks are unhappy or frustrated with their careers, their professions, their path or just general situation.  They are not feeling challenged, fairly compensated, or just are not passionate about their work.  However, when they elect to or are forced to make a change, they tend to go to the competition, or at least stay in the same field.  More often than not, they find themselves right back in the same old situation.  For many people it becomes an unending cycle of searching for and changing jobs every few years, yet they never really change their environment.  Sure, they change the company name on their business card, but their environment remains the same.  Change the environment, and there is a good chance you will change your circumstances.

Yes, there is friction in any change.  Changing fields or careers, locations or areas is never easy.  There is emotional, professional and real capital involved – it will often cost – sometimes a lot. It is not easy, but there just might come a time when you have to break free of the old ways; to start fresh.  Change the environment and you will change the situation.   However, remain in the same environment, the same things just seem to keep on happening.  There is something to be learned from Michael Vick, or a buddy who happens to be a Doctor of Education.  Whichever one you feel is more credible is your call.

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