Goodbye 2020! And also thank you for the lessons that we will be learning for quite some time. The depth of change that 2020 delivered, even as a change expert, is one that has profoundly altered the lens through which we will look at our lives and the world around us. In a way that is only comparable to a few other moments in life, we have all had our very root system shaken about by 2020. Doesn’t mean its all bad, simply that it went to the foundation of what we thought possible or impossible. And unique of course to 2020 is that the globe has gone through some version of this shaking together. Where often I have thought of change and time as slow to fast, on a horizontal line; 2020 delivered a spectrum of depth, on the vertical axis, digging into the core beliefs and ideas that had established our world and identities.
In my work with individuals and organizations, a core lesson of 2020 was the awareness around control and choice. We can all see the people who lost themselves in the plot of things getting canceled and “normal” not existing. Their anger, rage, denial, etc were visible on the daily news and often times in our home towns and cities and on the daily news. As much as their is understandable furry around some of these behaviors, I looked at them and saw people in frozen crisis, unable to complete the change cycle.
As I watched these reactions I could see the change pattern and process happening. (I was experiencing it happening inside of myself as well.) Just like a pattern of grief, change has some very normal steps that occur and they can cycle round and round. Additionaly a person can move back and forth amidst the steps over and over again. For me, the continued shock of the pandemic, the lack of humanity displayed by some, the behaviors within the political leadership of the US and the racist violence in the US was like bludgeoning tragedy that came round and round again. As a personal example of being on or off the change cycle, I know that after shock I can move to disbelief and denial. It can feel too hard to find acceptance. To progress through change I have to find increasing levels of acceptance…and sometimes that happens more rapidly than others. In 2020, I had to often be intentional to bring awareness to actions and patterns that would help me move from shock to denial to acceptance so I wasn’t lost or stuck.
And that is exactly where we’ve seen some people jump off the train. They can’t believe it so they won’t believe it. Its a choice. Though when done unconsciously people don’t always realize they are choosing. In contrast, however, as I coach and partner with individuals and organizations, that idea of moving the behavior that has been happening because its automatic and unconscious to the conscious and being able to make new choices is core. Being able to increase our consciousness about making new choices in order to flex and stay current is essential for adaptability for business and personal success and happiness. When we can know and honor the very real stages of change and the tools that help us evolve and work through change, so many more options are on the table.
If you want to start small and start with yourself or your organization start by doing some different exercises to bring all the pieces to the table and minimize speeding to a “and then this must happen” experience. So many are trained to have an action bias (which I love as long as you are clear on the why and what) that we are acting at a rapid pace on too many assumptions and without clarity of what the ultimate goal is and where we’re hoping to become. A very simple exercise when you find yourself in a moment of struggle, fuzziness, or confusing situation bringing up emotions in you. I do this sort of thing when I can’t read my intuition and there is a question mark over how I want to proceed on something.
As you can imagine, this process can be one that when done with a coach can be deepened and feel even more clarifying. Partnering through the discussion of these steps and then working on the and what now is a great way to make new choices and respond to change with awareness and calm.
Welcome to 2021 my friends. We’ve been through the shock and awe, now we learn to be in the here and now and plant a new future together. Remember we plant the forest one tree at a time and every tree’s life is dependent on its roots. Take care of your roots and your internal self first for yourself and as you lead and you’ll see the world around you be greatly impacted.
I’m a life-long creative who has spent 17+ years as a coach, a facilitator and a Talent Development consultant. I believe in the ability for people to be and do great things. I also believe and know that many of the highest performing people and organizations are challenged by the constant noise and rapid-evolution all around us.
With my partnership, each of my clients clear away the noise and prioritize what is essential while building plans for the long game.