Change is uncomfortable and scary for most of us. Although we have varying levels of tolerance to change and risk, all of us have some point where we avoid these things. I've been a risk taker most of my life – I love exploration and adventure, and I know that my willingness to try new things, or do old things in a new way, has brought me much delight and success.
Still, like everyone else, I have my limits. So it was with a great deal of fear, dread, trepidation and tears that I let Bill drive me to a hospital early Monday morning, where in a few short hours my left knee would be amputated out of my leg, and if things went well a new knee would be put in. There was a chance that my knee was so injured that a new knee would not work. So I had to let the haze of anesthesia settled over me, not knowing what I would wake up to. Honestly, this was one of the hardest things I've had to do in my life.
Both in business and personal life, there comes time when we need to tear things apart, blow things up, be destructive. And the truth is that we do not know what the outcome will be at these times. What we do know is that the current situation and the road we are on is not working. Plain and simple, we need to stop.
I've put together a road map that will help you to know when it's time to tear things apart, and how best to prepare for it. Here are some of the rules of the road we are on that simply won't take us where we want to go.
- We tend to fear completely deconstructing things so much that we stay on the wrong road far too long.
- The longer we stay on the wrong road, the more we lessen our chances of a good outcome once we've finally torn things up.
- We spend too much time, energy, and resources trying to make the road we've been on work. We make ridiculous accommodations that do not serve us, and we engage in more wishful and magical thinking. Denial gains super-sized strength from our fears.
- We assign fear to those around us, assuming they will dislike what will happen when things are torn completely apart, and using that as an excuse for keeping ourselves on the wrong road.
In both our personal and business worlds, however, we can ruin ourselves and our opportunities to have what we desire by refusing the “blow it up, tear it up, deconstruct it” path. Our secret ambitions or dreams for ourselves languish. The outward signs of “living wrong” can include anger, bitterness, depression, constant excuses, wishful thinking (if only), blame, totally buying in to beliefs and stories we tell ourselves about why we can't do something, being cynical, jealousy, and dishonesty with ourselves and others. Ugh!
No matter what “it” is, force yourself to have the curiosity and honesty to consider what might happen after deconstructing what you have right now. Don't just list the “bad” things you immediately think about. List all the possibilities you can think of, too. Energy follows thought, so keep yourself on the possibility side of the list as much as you can. Rule number one? You don't have enough foresight and knowledge to deconstruct something alone. Get help, give it time and attention, and move through the steps without continuing to tell yourself how scary or wrong it is once you've made up your mind.
- Consider the alternatives with at least three people.
- Find the very best people to help you.
- Make sure you like the way they approach things and their energy.
- Enroll your significant others – friends, business partners, family members, support staff.
- Ask these people to tell you their own fears about the deconstruction. This helps clear the air and prevent sabotage.
- Set up a timetable for when you will end the old and what all the steps are for the new.
- Make it as easy as you can on yourself. Clear the calendar of other demands. Whatever else you do, hire it done or stop it for a few days. Maybe you get someone to shop, cook, and clean for a few weeks so that's totally off your mind.
- Gather up your courage, quit listening to the “backtalk” from yourself and others, and take one step.
- Keep going through your steps with determination, even when you begin to doubt or run into an unexpected hurdle.
- Remind yourself that what you have been doing DOES NOT WORK and that you are now creating a new order of things. You are not reaching for perfection, you're reaching toward a solution that will actually get you what you want.
- Be honest to yourself and others when you have “doubt days” – get it out of yourself to prevent self-sabotage.
- Once a day, look at the big picture. Remind yourself that the road you have been on DOES NOT WORK. Give yourself credit for each step along the way.
- Work diligently on the new road. Don't go back and wonder if you've done the right thing. Whatever you are doing, it's probably more right than the wrong thing you were doing.
As I write this, I'm in a rehab hospital learning how to use my new knee. Yes, I did get one! It's been painful and hard, and it's easy to fall into doubt that I'll ever get the pain to stop or that I will be able to bend my knee very well. Like everyone else who goes through this, I've had my few days of “hitting the wall” and wondering why in the world I ever did this to myself. But my surgeon is expert at his craft and at reminding me where this can take me. My teachers and friends remind me of the truth about how things were just a short week ago. My new “knee friends” share every setback and success with me over meals and in the hallways. And the hospital staff support me completely, from helping me get a shower to making sure my pain medications are delivered right on time. I'm off the road that was getting me nowhere, and would have never gotten me where I want to go. This road is “more right” than the road I was on.
No matter how big it is in your business or personal life, have the courage to say aloud “this road is over.” You might find out that tearing something up is actually the way to create what you've always wanted.
(c) Sue Painter