I was chatting with another coach recently and she made an observation that some people feel success has to be hard won. That it has to involve enormous effort, sacrifice and compromise. That real success won’t come easily. Others feel that success is a natural right. That once they decide they want something, they go after it, and it comes to them. They don’t doubt the outcome.
Defining success is very personal to each of us and a whole different topic, but her comments got me thinking about how we can react when we find things difficult. Coaching is about change. Moving from A to B. Wanting something to be better and taking steps to do something about it. We all know if we want a different outcome, we have to do something different. In some cases, that is practical stuff like working with team members in a different way, beginning an exercise programme to get fit, or doing a clean out on a messy house that is causing you sleepless nights. But very often the change required is less tangible. Changing a mind-set for example, changing your attitude to others or towards yourself, acknowledging that you’re not always right and there might be another way of looking at something. Or one of the most challenging ones, letting a longstanding hurt go. These changes can be hard to do because essentially what you’re doing is changing your habits. Sometimes these have been habits of a lifetime, we do them automatically without any conscious thought and we say ‘that’s just how I am’. And so that’s how you are. But it doesn’t have to end there.
The first step to making a change is to commit to it. To know without question that you must succeed in making the change, there can be no other outcome. Commitment is the hardest yet most critical step. We easily say we want something different but we’re not always willing to make the necessary changes. We’re not willing to let something go in order to make way for something new. We say it’s too hard. My answer is as Coldplay sweetly crooned, Nobody Said it was Easy. Change is often excruciatingly uncomfortable. Change can feel clumsy, awkward and self-conscious. It can feel like you’re being a different person. But like learning to do anything new, in time, if you really commit, you can form a new habit that becomes second nature. Sticking with the musical theme, Regina Spektor (who sings the theme song to “Orange is the New Black”), captured it perfectly when she sang “Taking Steps is Easy, Standing Still is Hard”. While change can feel painful, it can be much more stressful to do nothing. Maybe not in the short term, but ignoring a situation that doesn’t work for you, simply because you fear how difficult it will be to try something new, is much harder. Tolerating the intolerable has a ripple effect you may not even be aware of.
Think about what you are putting up with, and ask yourself, if I make a change, and I want that change badly enough, what’s the worst that will happen?