Based on twenty years of teaching community leaders how to bring about cultural change, the CHASE YOUR DREAMS blog features the words, phrases, ideas, and tips that helped me maintain mental strength when my journeys (weight loss / triathlon / non-profit) felt daunting. The first five blogs are based on The Change Formula.
The Change Formula
(D x V x K) x B > R
Change begins when you have a Dissatisfaction with the status quo, a Vision of how you would like life to be, Knowledge of the first few steps, Belief in your ability to bring about change, and the ability to lessen Resistance. Over the next few weeks, I’ll focus on one of those key foundations for successful change. (Note: The change formula that I use is adapted from the work of Kathie Dannemiller and Robert Jacobs.)
Ask an peak performer what led to their success, and he or she will almost always say, “Consistency. ” That makes sense. Big accomplishment are the result of consistently stringing together small steps over time. But if it’s that simple, why isn’t every person thin and rich? Why aren’t we all wildly successful in our career and hobbies? If reaching dreams is as simple as consistently taking one small step after another, why aren’t we all wildly successful? The answer is RESISTANCE.
Think about times when you’ve faced resistance. What did that resistance look like? Where people’s arms crossed? Were they shaking their heads or rolling their eyes? What did that resistance sound like? Did they say things like: We’ve never done it that way before. I don’t have time to do something new. I could never do that. Yeah but, I’m _______. But what if _______? Resistance is normal and healthy.
Resistance is Normal. Resistance is the outward expression of the fear of losing something. From time to time, we have all been resistant to new ideas. Consider the las time you were resistant. Maybe your children proposed a later curfew. Maybe your boss suggested a new procedure. Maybe your coach suggested that you run more or fewer miles. What were you afraid of losing? Recently, my coaches suggested that I run without monitoring my heartrate or power data. Immediately, I felt resistant. I didn’t think I had the expertise of running my feel alone, an feared being slower. Based on my experience in helping hundreds of community leadership teams bring about local change, the most common fears are the fear of losing a sense of expertise, power over others, time, or the desired outcome.
Resistance is Healthy. Resistance is a healthy reaction that sometimes keeps us from going down a wrong road. Resistance causes us to a second look at the change we plan to make. It gives us a better understanding of what may be lost if the change goes through, and helps of weigh the pros and cons of the change we plan to make. The resisters may have thought of losses that we didn’t foresee. I’ve always thought it important to embrace resisters and consider that they may be right.
Where does resistance come from?
External Resistance. When we think about resisters, we often think of people outside of ourselves. We may picture groups of protesters chanting slogans against a change that they oppose. We may think of the person at work who overtly or covertly fights against a change introduced by their company. To get past the resistance, we need to ask, “What are these people afraid of losing?”
In my career, when I introduced change in schools, we found that roughly 25% of educators were early implements, eager to try out new teaching strategies. 65% would engage in a new strategy once the early implementers proved that the new strategy worked. The 65% had been afraid of losing time on a new strategy that would prove to be faulty. Once the early implementers proved that the strategy had value, the 65% would be eager to engage in the strategy. But 10% refused to come along – no matter what. In the beginning of leading educational reform initiatives, I spent lots of time and energy trying to reach the last 10%. I thought if I just made them feel safe enough, if I just helped them see the success of the strategy, they would could along. With experience, I learned that I could better help kids by supporting the 90% who would easily or eventually embrace change. I didn’t want the 10% to hold back the 90%.
In my triathlon life, resistance sometimes came from my husband. After I collapsed at the end of one of my races, my husband feared that the exertion of triathlon was a health risk for me. To address his fears, I visited my doctor. Once my husband was assured by my doctor that triathlon was not a health risk, my husband was back on board as my biggest supporter.
People are resistant because they are afraid of losing something. If you can accurately identify the fear and then address it, the resistance will disappear. The best was to approach resistance is the predict the resistance and then address people’s fears before they have a chance to materialize.
Internal Resistance. For many (most?) of us, the biggest resistance may comes from within us. That was certainly the case for me during my triathlon journey. My internal discussions included may questions that started with the words, “Yeah but” or “What if.” Yeah but, I’ve tried to diet all my life. Yeah but, I get tired when I don’t eat carbs. What if my jiggly parts jiggle on the run? What if I get kicked in the swim? I learned that these words were red flags that I was about to make an excuse for not doing what I needed to do. So now, when I hear myself saying those words, I ask myself what I’m afraid of and then develop a plan for getting past that fear. Sometimes the plan involves getting firm with my emotions, and I say, “Go away pride!” or “Go away fear.” Other times, there’s a strategy involved like going last in the swim so no one is around me. Sometimes, it helps to understand that I’m just making an excuse for being lazy or weak.
Embrace the Resistance. Resistance is not something to be feared. It is not a reason to stop chasing your dreams. Resistance is normal and healthy. When we listen to resistance, we sometimes find hat we need to make changes in the path we are taking to get to the destination we desire. But more often, resistance is just the outward expression of the fear of losing something. Once we address that fear – in others or in ourselves – we are able to continue chasing our dreams.
START YOUR JOURNEY: Use my online tool, Start Your Journey, to describe each foundational element in your Change Formula including Believe in Self.
Road to Worlds 2021 . . .
Training: I officially ended the 2020 training season in November with a mock “race” attended by just me. After a two-week break, we went back to a base phase (easier, longer intervals) as we started preparing for 2021. 2020 was a challenging year, but compared to many, my challenges were minor. Thankfully, all of my family members are healthy and financially security. I am grateful for my many blessings, and I pray for those who face much greater challenges that I face. While we decided in June to not race in 2020, I never stopped training. As expressed earlier in this blog, consistency is the key. My little steps, each day of training, just had a new focus – 2021.
Book Update: I received the first sales statement from my publisher and the book is doing really, really well. I so appreciate everyone who purchased a book and helped us to spread the word about the book. I can’t wait to forward to book’s proceeds to USA Triathlon Foundation to support their work with paratriathletes. I also learned that several book clubs have read the book. I was able to sit in on one of the club’s discussion of the book. That was a ton of fun!
Presentations Update: So pleased to continue doing podcasts and motivational presentations for virtual meetings. I’ve been able to meet the most amazing people in this way. Grateful!