I’ve had many conversations recently about whether we ever truly change from our inborn “set point.” While I really want to be an optimist and have worked hard at it and often get there, at my core I most often start with pessimism. My husband, as many of you know, starts at optimism. Could he become a pessimist if he really wanted to? Hmmm … probably not. Could he learn pessimism if there was a good reason to do so at times? Most likely. Our set points are just that. Set points but not final points. It all depends upon how important it is we learn to do something against our set point.
When was the last time you were truly uncomfortable in your leading, learning, living? If it has been a while, perhaps it’s time to push yourself a bit more. Incremental learning happens all the time as we interact with others on a daily basis, but if we want to create something new and different in our lives and organizations, it requires some discomfort. And if you find yourself paralyzed by fear, remember that often happens when we stretch ourselves. Take a deep breath, remember it’s part of the process, return to some safer ground, and keep living through the discomfort.
Choosing what we study is a powerful and challenging appreciative inquiry concept to most leaders. Most of our traditional management theory falls under a gap assessment paradigm, and as humans we do tend to gravitate to what’s wrong or not working. Choosing to study what is working, sometimes called positive deviance, makes a big difference in the energy we bring to something.
According to appreciative inquiry practitioners, free choice liberates power. I agree. We are fortunate to facilitate diverse stakeholder strategic planning processes, and I am always humbled by the amazing things that happen when the formal leaders let go of control and create an environment of free choice. People become committed to action and energized by what they can create.
I have been going through a lot of change recently and I notice that I embrace some changes easily and others I resist. Those I resist the most relate to my identity and my competence. What about you? And what do you think might be at play when you are leading others?
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As a recovering perfectionist, I know the path well. If I think that the only way to change or learn something new is to do it perfectly, I will never actually take a step towards it. I will continue to think (or read) about how experts do it perfectly and how I need to do it perfectly the first time I try it. Ultimately this perfectionism just equals paralysis.
Yesterday I blogged about the new normal. One of the things the new normal requires of us is to let go of old ideas. It’s difficult to imagine new possibilities while dragging outdated ideas along with us.