Change is often difficult. We get used to things being done a certain way and aren't in a hurry to go through the stress of doing something different. The truth is, however, change is often a much needed element. The challenge we face as radical leaders is to be able to have patience to see the change through. In my post on Uprooting Unhealthy Behaviors , I discussed the dynamics of changing an organizational culture. In this post, I will explore the discipline of change - based on an everyday example.
For the last several years, I have been wearing glasses. Yes, four eyes. My vision has always been fairly poor, but I had always worn contacts. I like the way I looked without glasses and frankly, I felt better about myself when I didn't have to see life through a boxed frame.
In college, many years ago now, I developed a very, very bad habit I retained for many years - I slept in my contacts. Not only did I sleep in my contacts, I wore them much longer than the two-week period that was the max. What can I say? I was young, foolish and poor.
Long story short, I started to find that my eyes were rejecting the contacts. I quickly straightened up my wearing habits, but it was too late. There was nothing I could do - I had to switch to glasses.
I wore glasses exclusively for about seven years, though I still preferred the way I looked and felt when I wore contacts. So, at my last visit with the eye doctor, I asked about the possibility of again wearing contacts and my doctor recommended daily disposables.
So, I tried wearing contacts again. I didn't have any issues whatsoever and was thrilled. I wore them a second time and again, no issues. By the third time I went to put in my contacts, I was hardly even thinking that I would have problems.
As I started to put in a new set of contacts for the third time in years, I realized that I had not washed my hands well before I started the procedure. I stopped myself and washed the contacts off with my wife's contact solution. I then proceeded to place the contact in my eye.
Almost immediately, I knew that something was wrong. My eye was not happy. In fact, the contact went up into the abyss of my eye for at least a minute before I could retrieve it. I then rewashed it and repeated the process several times. I was getting very frustrated and was ready to throw in the towel - I thought my eyes were rejecting them and I would have to wear glasses. What was the point? I should just switch back to glasses. I was foolish to think I could change to contacts.
That is when my wife asked me if the contact was in the right way. I hadn't even though about this, but sure enough, I had been putting my contact in upside down. I am so grateful that I didn't just give up and resort back to glasses.
LESSON LEARNED: Be Pro-active
The first lesson I learned through this was how important it is to pro-actively think through the change process. I knew inherently that it may take some time to get used to contacts again, but I was so worried about the change not working, that I almost sabotaged myself before I fully gave the change a full chance.
LESSON LEARNED: Be Patient
The second lesson learned was how important it is to ensure we have the patience we need when we are implementing a change. Change often comes with kinks, quirks, and uncomfortable situations - and this should be expected and planned for. If not, we will be easily frustrated and want to give up before we have even begun.
LESSON LEARNED: Ask For Help
The final lesson I took away had to do with the benefits of asking for help. My frustration levels had gotten to a point where I was having a difficult time seeing the forest between the trees. An outside perspective is often very beneficial as others are able to see things clearly without the biases that screen our vision.
What changes have you made recently where you were actually setting yourself up to fail?