When you’re dealt a tough card in life or in business, what are you better known for? Dealing with it and moving on, or hanging on?
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Guiding so many clients all over the world through personal and business change, I’ve seen how very differently these two approaches can play out. Depending on the choices made. Whether for instance in a personal relationship challenge or in a business transformation situation.
What I’ve found is that there are vast differences in how well and how quickly we actually make and stick to those personal transitions. Depending on whether we choose (consciously or unconsciously) between either moving on or hanging on.
Most of us are not very good at accepting or managing change, are we?
Moving on or Hanging on?
Let’s take the example of a marriage separation. I’ve accompanied a few people though some of these personally over the years. And found remarkable differences not only in approach that each of the partners took. But also where they find themselves today.
Albeit over a period of time, of course, those that chose moving on, worked through everything steadfastly to come out the other side as much better people.
Their respective partners, regrettably, often didn’t. And many are still really no further in their life outlook and their ability to live in joy and with purpose.
Those Moving on
I know how much tenacious determination and effort the former were willing to invest in themselves. Also investing good money in finding and leveraging appropriate professional help.
And they listened to and implemented their advice. That which resonated with them. And what didn’t, they flushed. And where challenged, they were strong enough to engage and be convinced.
Over years I observed how they grew. How, in all cases, after the initial shock of being confronted with the severity of this change, they made a decision. To see this as an opportunity rather than as a threat. And then to own the process and the outcome.
In German we say: “besser ein schmerzhaftes Ende als ein Schmerz ohne Ende”, suggesting: “it’s better to have a painful end than a pain without end“. And so, as best and as quickly as they could, they accepted that it was over. And that they were moving on. Of course occasionally regressively sliding into “oh woe is me” thinking. But never for long.
Digging deep to find out what their internal narrative was masking. What it takes to craft the right personal breakthroughs. And as a result, I can say for each one, they are streets ahead of where they started. But they had to be willing to pay that price. And they did.
It was as if they knew this was a necessary life experience. One their journey needed to confront in order to learn the lessons embedded in all the challenge. So that they could “move on” after a period of time. So much the better for having done so.
Those Hanging on
Conversely, what I found in the personal cases I experienced, was that the partners that chose not to move on, are actually still hanging on today.
Stuck in the very paradigms that were holding them up all long. Whether or not they contributed to the separation or not.
Not grieving what was that they felt they had lost. But often analyzing and over-analyzing.
But still blaming the other party for their situation. Past and current. It was always the other person’s fault. Another choice. One that still has them entrenched in unresourceful thinking and behaviour. Often still bitter. Often still believing they are the victim. Quite often in depression. Regrettably often with little real hope for the future. Very sad.
Unfortunately these choices are everyone’s own to make. As I describe in Whose Journey is it?
Moving on or Hanging on in Business
While these have been examples of personal change, I’ve learned that business change is actually no different. In fact any change. I’ve come to understand that all change is “personal”. In the sense that we all react personally to change. From the perspective of “what’s in it for me?“. As in how is this going to affect me and my current situation? The threats we initially see often prevail over the opportunities that might be created by the change.
There are many useful models that help appreciate how “normal” the steps are most people need to successfully work through for any change. And of course one of the greatest such changes is the grief we face at the loss of a loved one.
One of the best known models is:
- the Kubler Ross change curve which works through the stages of: shock – denial – frustration – depression – experiment – decision – integration.
- and the Grief curve which rather similarly works through the stages of shock & denial – pain & guilt – anger & bargaining – depression, reflection & loneliness – upward turn – reconstruction – acceptance – hope.
All of which are designed not only to have the sufferer gain a better understanding of why they feel the way they do. But also how best to plot a way through the (often emotional) fog. So that they can find a way towards moving on, rather than remaining stuck hanging on.
Using Third Parties to help
This is where mentors and unemotionally attached third parties such as coaches can often be such a supportive crutch. Listening. Encouraging. Referring. But also to challenge and hold accountable to the breakthrough path chosen.
And in a business context this is where consultants often bring that externally unbiased form of guidance, support and encouragement to complex business transformation. This is where my peers in the The Network of Consulting Professionals can provide so much trusted advisor support. To help the executives or owners “keep flying their plane“, while they help support and drive the ongoing change management to keep everyone and everything on track. To guide those in the business to own the new, not undermine it.
I hope this is resonating with you? Why? Because in our current pandemic many, if not most of us are facing outwardly imposed change of an unprecedented magnitude.
Survival thinking is all around us. Backed up against the wall it’s hard to think clearly about thriving.
But this is where innovation is one of the most valuable tools, if I can call it that, to help break us out of staid old processes within our “old” comfort zones. Ones that, no matter how successful in the past, are now often simply no longer relevant. To dig deep to find ways that will enable “moving on”. Just like those aforementioned “movers on” had to do in their personal lives. And did. Successfully.
The alternative is to give up and drown within all the “trying to hang on” to the old. Often in overwhelm. Even depression.
Maybe inconceivably right now to be investing in professional help, those in The 5% that know Why are in fact doing just that. Seeing this current pandemic driven situation as temporary. Knowing that a new chapter will have to follow. And investing in themselves to be ready for a “new me” in that new chapter.
Irrespective of the severity of your current circumstances, which choice will you make: moving on or hanging on?