Step Five-Dancing With Change

Learning to dance with change:

Step One: Accept that which cannot be changed.

Step Two:  Choose whether you are going to dance or sit this one out.

Step Three: Determine how much of this new dance you already know.

Step Four: Determine your role–are you the Lead or the Follower?

Once you’ve taken Steps 1-4, it’s time to start dancing.

Step Five is:

Focus on learning the new dance.

There are few people who resist change more than I do. I like knowing what I’m doing. I like being competent. I like knowing stuff. So when I have to learn something new, I do not jump up and down yelling, “Yippee!!!” (Unless, of course, it was my idea to begin with.) When a change is thrust upon me, I generally develop what I consider a healthy level of disdain for whatever it is I need to learn. “How can this possibly be better than what I already know? This is stupid. I liked the old way! Why do we need to change it?”

Someone wiser than I once described this as trying to steer your car by using the rear view mirror.  Helen Keller put it this way:

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.

Refer to Step One. When you are facing a change that is mandatory, accept that you have no choice and then fully devote your efforts to learning whatever it is you need to learn.

Imagine you are in a dance class to learn the Cha-Cha. You can see through floor-to-ceiling windows into the classroom next door where the Mambo is being taught.  You learned the Mambo last year and you are really good at it. You love the Mambo; you feel competent and relaxed when doing this dance.  The more you gaze through the windows envying those who are dancing the Mambo, the longer it takes you to learn the Cha-Cha.

The Law of Attraction says that you get more of what you focus on. Because of that, amazing things happen when you put your full attention on learning something new. It becomes easier. Because you are focused on the solution, information that will guide you forward comes your way from unexpected sources. You’ll find yourself thinking of unique ways to forge ahead while you are in the shower, driving your car…heck, you’ll even dream of solutions. That is the power of focus.

Years ago when I decided I wanted to do stand-up comedy, funny stories and one-liners would occur to me all day long–talking to my sister on the phone, standing in line at the grocery store, during business meetings…the supply seemed limitless. I even woke up one night laughing at a joke I had just told onstage in my dream. Of course I wrote it down and that’s a tip for you:  keep a pad of paper and pen handy so you can write things down as you think of them.

Once I decided that stand-up was not for me, funny information stopped showing up. My focus had shifted. I am fully confident, however, that should I renew my interest in stand-up and focus on “funny,” the information would again be there for the taking.

Can you think of a time when you have been fully devoted to solving something only to have the information you needed show up unexpectedly?  Maybe you received an email that held the answer. Maybe you “stumbled across” a magazine article or television show. In the Bible it says, “Seek and ye shall find.”  Truer words have yet to be written.

When my daughters were in school, I used to tell them that one of the secrets to getting good grades is to do your homework. Not only will you learn the subject, teachers will bend over backwards for students who are sincerely trying. Doing homework is evidence of your efforts.

The same is true at work. When you focus your full attention on learning what you need to, your supervisor is on your side.  If, on the other hand, you spend your energy fighting change, you are making your supervisor’s job difficult and in the long run that’s not good for you or your career.

What’s the bottom line?  Looking back over your shoulder while dancing only leads to accidents. The longer we cling to what was, the more time we lose in learning the new.  Mourn the old as quickly as you can in order to let go, and then place your focus on learning what’s in front of you.

Cha-Cha anyone?          

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