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of the secrets of mastering change and being effective in life is
understanding that few things progress at an even pace. As author Brian Tracy says, most of the
success you'll achieve in life comes via the pattern of two steps forward, one step
back. The key is to recognize that the one step back isn't fatal. Rather, it's a more or
less predictable component of stepping onto new territory, venturing where
you haven't gone before.
people give up or proceed at a less vigorous pace as they encounter the one
step back, because they don't understand the cadence. Sometimes, it's three steps
back, before six steps forward!
of the easiest ways to gain perspective, especially when you've undergone
tumultuous change over a prolonged period and are not sure if it's all been
worth it, is to look back on where you were six months, a year, or two years
ago. As an extreme example, would you
is some irony, however. Once you learned how to use e-mail, for example,
your ability to send messages to others was greatly enhanced. Expectations,
however, rise to meet new levels of technological capability. Therefore,
when you only could generate a handful of letters a day, that's what was expected of you. When you could
generate 500 in a day, that became the norm. Now that you can e-mail thousands of people
with a few keystrokes, what happens?
tend to over-use the technology, hence negating the productivity benefits
they sought to achieve by mastering the new technology in the first place.
Another key to effective change, in this regard, is mastering a new way to do something and
then not abusing the process.
of what you face, there is someone within close proximity who has already blazed that trail. Someone has learned the software you're trying to learn,
mastered the intricacies of the new procedure for handling customer
complaints, or figured out how to make the scanner work.
many respects, your ability to master change is roughly equal to your
ability to find a trailblazer, someone who can give you key, vital inputs
that will save you hours and days of frustration.
I am constantly on the lookout for mentors, even of a temporary nature. I
want to talk to people who know things I need to know and can tell me when to
turn left or turn right, so that I don't become unnecessarily bogged down in detail, anxious,
or frustrated. I'm also willing to pay for coaches, instructors, and guides as the need
becomes apparent. I network heavily, so that I am always in touch with others who have skills
and experience of benefit to me and, conversely, who I can benefit as well. Relationships
that last, as author Robert Ringer once said, are value-for-value relationships--both
parties want to keep the connection going!
connected to the Internet enables you to find experts faster and easier than
ever before. If you need information on a particular topic, you need only to go
to the Lycos, Yahoo!, Alta Vista, or HotBot search engines, type in the key words, and
immediately get a roster of web sites, articles, and information about the topic.
Invariably, I find that after visiting as few as three or four sites, the
names of key organizations or individuals emerge. Often, that party's
e-mail, 800 number, or fax number is provided at the site.
you have your own strategy for identifying mentors, experts, and
trailblazers. How often do you employ their services to help you become a
master of change, particularly at the moments when it's most necessary for
you to have someone walking you through the forest?
Change Also Requires Learning to Pace Yourself
do you handle change in your professional or personal life? Your approach
may be to throw your time and energy at the situation and, regardless of the
frustrations and struggles you encounter, resolve to be successful. I call
this the BFI approach ("brute force and ignorance"). Occasionally,
you can be successful with the BFI approach to mastering change, but it's usually at a higher price than you need to pay. It is
important to let the process of germination take its course.
you know how to play a musical instrument, undoubtedly you've experienced
the phenomenon where you went back to a piece you originally had trouble
with, and even though you hadn't practiced, you actually did better than the last time you
tried. The same phenomenon takes place in sports. Swing that golf club 100
times, and maybe you hit too many hooks and slices. Come back in a few days,
without having practiced golf, and guess what? Often, you find yourself in
better form. How did it happen? Germination. So it is with mastering the
challenges you face.
the process of learning a new routine on your computer. It makes sense sometimes to "let go" for a half day or so, step away from the PC, and
perhaps simply mull over your notes or the guidebook. You can even let
things rest over the weekend. When you come back, sometimes you're able to proceed with greater dispatch because
the procedures and concepts that were confusing at first somehow became clear
when you stepped away from the more stressful environment.
when you're feeling stymied, cut yourself a little slack. Give yourself the
weekend off, or perhaps just walk around the block. When you come back,
things will be different.
Davidson, MBA, CMC, is Executive Director of the Breathing Space®
Institute; a popular speaker; and the author of 24 books, including
Breathing Space: Living and Working at a Comfortable Pace in a Sped-up
Society ($14.95). For a resource list including books, videos cassettes, and
Jeff's key-note presentations call Jeff directly at (919) 932-1996, send a
FAX (919) 932-99-82 or visit BSI's web site www.BreathingSpace.com
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