Friday, September 21, 2007

Change; Move With It Or Let It Paralyze You

Change. That word alone tends to paralyze many people. They start assuming and pre-acting about what they think will happen before it even starts and go off on a tangent until they're paralyzed by the mere thought. I'm not going to say "Now how smart is that exactly?" Preconceptions of what might happen if something else happens first without any basis whatsoever, is a smart use of energy, right? Not!

Last May when I was in California in with George Leonard, part of the discussion was about how one could use the game of tennis as an analogy for change. The way he described it, everything is in constant motion. Nothing stays stagnant. The ball moves, the racquet moves and you move. None of the three moves in the same way twice, so there are always variables. If you panic and freeze you'll miss the ball and if you're totally honed, aware and focused on the ball, chances are you'll hit it. And once you get the hang of it and hit it more than once until the dance of tennis itself is a constant; a foundation is built on movement.

If you don't move with the flow of the game and stand still, the ball will end up hitting you over the head; more than once. Unless you learn to move and respond to it, you're going to get beaten up big time!

What if you used that analogy on a regular basis when doing a reorg, learning something new, starting a project...anything really? It would give an odd sense of stability in an ever-changing, ever-moving world. Energy would increase, focus would be absolute and not only would you watch, learn and become more masterful in what you do, you would be mindful of everything around you because, as in tennis, not only are you, the racquet and the ball moving, but the person on the other side of the court is moving too. You have to know where and how the other person is apt to move so you can play accordingly. It's a give and take.

That's where the analogy ends because the key is to lob the ball back and forth, getting better with each swing of the racquet and contact of the ball, not make the other person miss and lose. So if you both practiced, even just the volleying of the ball back and forth, the practice itself will bring you to a new level of mastery, give, take and flow. It might not be something that happens overnight or in a dramatic way but when you look back at when you started, you'll see just how far you've come; far enough to celebrate your success and proficiency.

How could you use that analogy to manage and thrive through change that's happening in the context of your world right now? Might you already be connecting with that ball without realizing it? Think of all the times you were given something to do and jumped in with both feet without resisting. Somehow it ended up just clicking. That's it. The first step to mastery comes from practice. Change is constant. It's the paradox of life. And when you think you've integrated change and have it down pat, even then keep practicing as you'll get even better than you ever imagined.

Donna Karlin

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