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Principles For Making The Most Out Of Long, Drawn-Out And Difficult Experiences
By Ian Percy
Jul 18, 2002 - 1:59:00 PM

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Type B personalities please move slowly to the next article. Take your time. These few thoughts will have no relevance to life as you know it. But to the rest of us, the A types, I want to offer a few inspired words of empathy and encouragement.

I don't know about you, but I can't stand it any more. How long does change have to take?

The need for corporate change at your place is unarguable. Anyone with an IQ above a hockey puck can see the wisdom of your change process. So why has it taken a year and a half just to get people willing to talk about it, never mind implement anything?

All you need is a little equipment to make your office semi-functional, but you'd think you'd asked for a reconstruction of the entire downtown core. Your sign-off limit barely lets you in on Zeller's $1.49 day, and getting the Board to authorize a new waste basket is worth six months of committee meetings. And have you ever tried to get a definitive ruling from the tax department? We're talking life-long projects here. How does one make the most out of such situations?

First, I want to point out a fundamental struggle. On one side, there are ways to simplify and expedite change. There is very little necessity for much of the bureaucracy and red tape we endure. Most of it stems from people's need for power. On the other hand, in all change there is a process that has to unfold. Rushing or forcing it is futile, and may make the situation worse.

Given that, there are seven principles that help to make the most of long, drawn-out and difficult experiences.

1. YOU ARE NOT ALONE . For some reason the more stressful the situation the more alone you feel. The truth is that in very few situations would you be the only one feeling impatient, frustrated or fed-up. Probably even those who seem to be the source of the bottleneck are frustrated by the process. Unfortunately, most people won't admit to these feelings, leaving you playing solitaire with your inner turmoil.

Take the risk of constructively and gently expressing your perception of the situation and you will be surprised at how many others will identify with you. This honesty helps transform the situation from "my problem" to "our problem" and a much better chance at getting something done about it. Misery loves company, but so does Hope.

2. THERE IS ALWAYS MOVEMENT . It may be slow, but there is movement in every circumstance. Sooner or later every situation changes. Unfortunately it's often two days after your funeral. If the goal is important to you, stay with it. Keep your head up and your eyes open. When you see a break in the clouds take off. Remember, opportunities don't stop to knock anymore, they wave as they go by. Grasp the moment.

3. DO NOT FORSAKE MOTHERHOOD . When the system blocks you from realizing your dreams, there can be a tendency to forsake your personal values. It's our way of getting revenge - obviously nice people don't win. "Motherhood" values like honesty, integrity and love for people don't get you very far. Right? Wrong! Don't sell out. Don't forsake your principles. They got you this far, don't betray them now. Keep the faith. To thyself be true.

4. NOTE THAT THE RIGHTEOUSNESS AND GLORY OF MARTYRDOM IS FLEETING . Our ultimate vengeance against a comatose system is to become a martyr. That'll show 'em. We slip into self-pity, telling all who will listen how much these stupid delays are costing us or our company. How it's ruining the lives of our children if not the entire national economy.

However, most of us can't even be good martyrs. The final degradation comes with the realization that nobody cares. Oh, they'll stop and watch you burn at the stake for awhile but they've got better things to do. You not only end up toast, you end up alone. It's just not worth it. If you really need to be a martyr, go ahead-but set a time limit on it: "I'm going to be a martyr until noon tomorrow." Then get on with the business of changing the world.

5. FOCUS MORE ON THE PRIZE THAN ON THE PRICE . The Olympic slogan is "Go for the Gold!" There is a reason why it isn't "Go for the seven days a week, 5:30 in the morning practice!" Every prize has a price tag and the bigger the prize the bigger the price-tag. There's no getting around that. But if you keep looking at the cost you end up resenting not only the sacrifices you have to make but the prize itself.

So here you are paying more than your share in time, energy and probably money. You're paying with your frustration and perseverance. Keep your eyes on the prize. If it's worth it, if it's your dream, if it's the desire of your heart-look down just long enough to count the cost and then get your focus back up where it belongs - on the prize.

6. REMEMBER THE BIG PICTURE . The narrower the focus of your attention and energy the more you begin to disregard other dimensions of your life. This is particularly true when that focus is also a source of frustration. When we are consumed by a certain situation, we need to be careful. The situation may become an end in itself rather than part of a bigger picture. What is the point, for example, of being consumed by some business venture designed ultimately to bring a secure lifestyle to your family if you ignore your family in the process? In short, if fighting the battle will help you win the war, go for it. If not, you might consider spending your energy elsewhere.

7. GET READY FOR A CELEBRATION . Your situation started out so positively. But now that you're in it, it's a different story. You're certainly more informed now and maybe your normally positive attitude has been eroded by pessimism.

The one thing no one can take from you is the power to choose. One choice is to extract yourself from your difficult situation rather than fight it to the end. If this seems like the wisest direction for you, then make it a strong, clear decision rather than fade indecisively from the scene. Celebrate your courage and your decision. Once decided, don't keep rehearsing your choice. Celebrate it.

Should you choose to stay with it and make the most out of your long, drawn-out and difficult experiences, be confident of your eventual triumph. Keep Hope firmly in mind and look forward to the victory party. Because life is full of difficult experience, it can also be full of celebration.

Ian Percy
"� The Ian Percy Corporation". Ian Percy is one of North America's most inspirational speakers. For over 25 years Ian has blended in-depth thinking, real life global experiences and unending humor in his keynotes and presentations to corporations and associations around the world. A Registered Psychologist, Ian holds degrees in theological education as well as organizational psychology. He is a Certified Speaking Professional and has been inducted into the Canadian Speakers Hall of Fame. For information on his speaking and training programs call 352-438-0261 [email protected] or
visit www.ExpertSpeaker.com



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