What Does It Take to Dig a New Groove?

What Does It Take to Dig a New Groove?

Make Change Suck Less – Episode #4

In episode #3, we acknowledged the creative power of asking “what if” instead of hunkering down in fight or flight every time change appears on the horizon. In this episode, we’ll develop a practice around questioning in order to create space for new possibilities.

It turns out our brains are far more elastic than we traditionally believed. Neuroscience researchers liken our gray matter to a fresh field of mud that gets worn down into a series of grooves, according to our habitual ways of thinking and acting. (Actually, I’ve never heard a neuroscientist say that our brains are like mud – I was visualizing the most recent Kentucky Derby mess when I wrote that!)

The point is: We can change the grooves if we want.

Consider the way train engineers use switches to move a train from one track to another. What if you could switch your thoughts over from the old, auto-pilot, how-am-I-going-to-pay-the-bills groove to a completely new and different circuit – one that’s far more liberating and empowering?

Creating these track “switches” could allow you to bypass the frenzy and / or paralysis of the survival instinct (fight or flight), which if you are seriously facing loss of life is handy, but otherwise is not that constructive. Instead, these “switches” can take you down a different path altogether –one that opens the way to possibilities you might never have imagined before.

Neuroscientists at Synaptic Potential call this our “change readiness neural quotient” – our neural capability to change. And the amazing thing is that like most capabilities, it can indeed be developed (or expanded).

To aid in building this new neural change muscle, I’d like to offer a practice that centers on asking yourself three sets of questions whenever you see change headed your way. These progressive questions are designed to unlock your natural resistance and unleash your personal power to respond and create in ways that serve your highest good.

Question Set #1:

  • Do I understand why this change is happening (after objectively considering all factors)?
  • Given more data points than I likely have, might I have arrived at the same (or similar) decision if I were in charge?
  • Regardless of my emotional response, will this change take place anyway?

At this point, you have ideally answered yes to all. And even if you don’t like what’s heading down the pike, your rational brain can accept the scenario as a foregone conclusion. If so, you are ready to move on.

Question set #2:

  • With this (rational) context in place, how do I feel in my gut about this change?
  • In addition to fears, concerns, trepidation… is there even a glimmer of curiosity? Relief? Excitement?
  • Can I feel a sense of possibility opening up… or even see a sliver of light filtering into the crack?

If you answered yes to the last two questions, you are like the train engineer, ready to literally flip the switch.

Question set #3:

  • In what ways might this new situation allow me to grow?
  • What latent skills or interests might I express or develop given this new scenario?
  • What have I always dreamed of doing (or doing differently) and how might this shift enable me to explore this?

If you’re able to contemplate these last questions, you are firmly in the creative “what might be” space, where etching new grooves is eminently possible.

In retrospect, I realize now that I’ve been following this process for years. And like everyone, I do sometimes get stuck in Question Set #1 (which is all about accepting that which we cannot control). It’s why I have carefully curated a short list of incredibly smart, diverse and provocative advisers I consult with from time to time – my truth tellers. They ask me tough questions and point out ways that I have dug in my heels in order to help me loosen myself from old grooves that were once constructive but no longer serve me well. 

As I have become more adept at activating change in my own life, I find that Question Sets #2 and #3 come to me quite naturally. Have you ever cleared a room that was once full of a lot of clutter, only to feel so deeply the energy, spaciousness and clarity you didn’t know you craved?

This practice is a lot like that.

At On the Same Page, we would really like to hear how you actively bring change on board in your own life. Please do share your insights and experiences with us so we can all expand our ability to… well, expand!

From the Synaptic Potential white paper: “Change Readiness NQ: Strengthening Your Organisation’s / Employees’ Ability to Manage Change and Cultivate Opportunity”

Check out our new peer coaching program for new and emerging leaders called YOU LEAD. We’ll be digging into all kinds of ways to make change suck less by activating your voice, your impact.

What If?

What If?

Make Change Suck Less – Episode #3

In episode #2, we explored unexpected benefits resulting from changes in our lives that were outside of our control. In this episode, let’s dig deeper to see just how change can truly enrich our experience – in the rear-view mirror.

How many different people have you been in this lifetime? I’ve been at least five – and that’s only counting my professional lives. 

In case you’re interested, there was the entertainment writer / local TV producer (ask me about my interview with Jerry Seinfeld), the year and a half I was a licensed life and disability insurance salesperson (for real), then came the very serious business journalist interviewing true titans of industry. At some point, I veered into the corporate world as a… wait for it… change agent. Let’s hop, skip and jump a few years to today: I think I’m morphing once again from a somewhat stable business owner to something slightly more creative (but you’ll have to ask my colleagues about that… or just ask me). 

The point? What if I never what-iffed? I would have missed the big move from the Midwest to the Big Apple. I wouldn’t have interviewed a CEO who later became our nation’s Treasury Secretary. I would have missed out on getting to know so many amazing and inspiring clients. I’d have a whole lot fewer friends. And I definitely wouldn’t have learned to practice Reiki. (Yup. Certified Level 2.)

None of these zigs or zags were planned. Not a one. They just came… and, gazing in the rear-view, it seems I said “what if” quite often, in the sense of why not?

So, I got to thinking: Could you turn my personal “what if” habit into a deliberate practice? Let’s try it. 

What if….

  • You could switch on a different internal circuit before responding to change coming at you from an external source?
  • What if your prevailing thoughts and reactions weren’t focused on your survival – your ability to earn a living, pay for food and shelter, clothe and educate your kids?
  • What if, like in mindfulness meditation, you could tame the “monkey mind” by acknowledging that the concerns (fears) you have are real, and then gently and respectfully put them aside to see what other more productive possibility may be hiding there?
  • What if instead, you could switch your thoughts over to a completely different, far more liberating and empowering circuit? (Consider the train track that branches off to a new destination.) 

That last what if (and heads up… it’s a big one!) could take the form of some reflective thinking guided by a whole new set of questions. The questions I’m talking about redirect our brains from the constricting fight or flight response to a far more expansive mindset of abundance and opportunity. 

What if you could train yourself to think like that the next time your company announces big changes coming your way? And every time after that?

I’ll explore what those questions could look like in the next episode… I hope you’ll join me.

Check out our new peer coaching program for new and emerging leaders called YOU LEAD. We’ll be digging into all kinds of ways to make change suck less by activating your voice, your impact.

Resist Wisely… It Requires an Incalculable Amount of Energy!

Resist Wisely… It Requires an Incalculable Amount of Energy!

Make Change Suck Less – Episode #2

In episode #1, we established that going with the flow has its merits… and that doing so sometimes even produces beneficial outcomes. But what if it gets even better than that?

We spend SO much energy resisting change. I wish there was a way to calculate this in concrete terms, like number of brain cells suffocated by anxiety, or dollars draining from our personal asset base, or… something other than gray hair. 

Here’s an alternative way to look at it from my personal arsenal of recent experiences.

Four people I care a great deal about – and who have been within arms reach on a near constant basis for years – have LEFT ME within a few weeks. This includes my two kids and two of my very best friends. (Okay… so they haven’t left me, per se. But none of them live anywhere near me anymore, so you get what I mean.)

You would think I would be feeling pretty blue. But I gotta say… I’m kinda reveling in the new and unexpected space. 

Let’s start with my newest luxuries of home and hearth:

  • I haven’t tripped over a twisted pile of boxers on the floor in months
  • Cupboard doors are – miraculously – closed, hiding whatever is meant to be hidden
  • There isn’t a dirty dish in the sink… unless I put it there
  • Not one Goldfish has crunched under my ass when I relax on the couch
  • My cat knows just which lap to climb into (… finally! The one who feeds him!)

Moving on from the mundane to the more meaningful:

  • The new rhythm of my days, nights and weeks are suddenly shaped by MY interests, MY priorities and MY intentions
  • There are friends I get to see that I haven’t seen since sitting on the sidelines of T-ball “games,” and new ones presenting themselves in my path
  • Events I’ve always wondered about in a distant way are finding a committed spot on my calendar – activity partner or no
  • And also, unexpected bouts of loneliness that are both deep and challenging; inviting me to get real about how I want connection to thread its way into and through my life

So now I’m thinking: What if we could drop our natural resistance to change when it happens “to us” at work and open to the world of what-ifs? What if we could somehow flip that switch from “Danger Danger” to an “Oh, that’s interesting… tell me more” position the next time the winds of change blow our way, bypassing the whole fear, anxiety and resistance cycle completely? What kinds of possibilities might cross our path when we learn to dim the fight or flight response so that our vision is made a bit clearer? 

And that – what if – is the topic of my next post. Stay tuned.

Check out our new peer coaching program for new and emerging leaders called YOU LEAD. We’ll be digging into all kinds of ways to make change suck less by activating your voice, your impact.

What I Learned About Change From a Very Weird Plant on My Deck

What I Learned About Change From a Very Weird Plant on My Deck

Make Change Suck Less – Episode #1

I’m a beginner with plants. Having spent 2+ decades raising kids (and a business), I’ve decided to start slowly with the green stuff. 

That’s why my best friend and I picked out this plant early last summer for my back deck. 

They’re succulents, she told me. Therefore they won’t need much attention. Perfect, I thought. Bought and paid for!

For the first two months, all went smoothly with the succulents. Then a few weeks later, this happened: 

Those tall protrusions that look like they desperately want to become flowers never really did. They only made the whole pot oddly asymmetrical and prone to blowing over in the wind.

But one thing they did produce: something that my beloved hummingbirds loved to feed on! Almost as much as the homemade nectar I keep stocked in the nearby feeders all summer long. (I like birds better than plants… and almost as much as my kids.)

And what does this have to do with change, you ask? I’ve concluded these 3 things from my summer with the succulents:

  • We simply don’t know what we don’t know. So why not stay open to possibilities?
  • You never really know what’s coming until it does. And even when it isn’t all that attractive, it can – and often does – pave the way for something new, exciting and better than was there before. (More weird succulent protrusions = fewer trips to buy sugar for the homemade nectar. Oh, and… will the little seeds from those un-flowers become next summer’s succulents? I believe they might.)
  • Relinquish control, especially regarding outcomes. The control thing was probably an illusion anyway. And oh, how much energy we waste on just the attempt to control. 

That last point – the energy required to resist change? Stay tuned… it’s the topic of our next post. 

What new door opened for you when you least expected it?

Check out our new peer coaching program for new and emerging leaders called YOU LEAD. We’ll be digging into all kinds of ways to make change suck less by activating your voice, your impact.

 
When You Have to Just Say ‘No’

When You Have to Just Say ‘No’

Saying ‘no’ to a colleague, boss or customer can be difficult. It can also build trust and strengthen your business (and personal) relationships. How? What’s more important than the words you use is the intention behind them. Try these problem-solving tips the next time you have to decline a request. For more information on Communicating to Engage, email me at tracy@on-the-same-page.com.

Try these problem-solving tips the next time you have to decline a request.

Are you an expert or a visionary?

Are you an expert or a visionary?

Functional experts are often promoted into bigger and bigger roles without preparation for the adjustments they need to make to truly lead. Essential to bridging the gap from technician to leader is building and sharing a vision that stirs employees’ passion and creativity.

Top leaders align their vision around the organization’s strategy. They:

  • Develop a story that engages employees in the organization’s strategy, inspiring and motivating their teams and employees to action.
  • Improve relationships with boards, shareholders, partners, their team and critical stakeholders by providing a vision that’s simple, clear and memorable.
  • Simplify the link from their vision and the organization’s strategy to the impact on customers, clients or products.

Bridge that gap from functional expert to visionary leader and succeed in your new role. For more information on storytelling or employee engagement, email me at tracy@on-the-same-page.com.