Four months in, almost 100 blogs, and SO MUCH learning. Phew. What a ride. I’ve loved every minute of it. Every minute. What have I been up to lately? Hm.
Well, like most of you, writing, creating new ways to engage, and learning a lot about myself along the way. A lot.
I’ve finally made the decision to merge my two sites into one. It will take some time, yet it is time. My oldest son, Justin, will be assisting. Fun. So funny. When I started blogging in April, I created 5 websites. Phew. That was a lot.
Since that time, I have whittled them down to two. And, now there has been a natural confluence of the two sites. I am really excited about merging them in the coming weeks. It will help me focus, and I think it will be much more efficient.
The series will cover, change agents versus the status quo, integrity, vulnerability, communication, and a couple of other topics. I am also working on a new series on sociology called the social constructionism series.
Super excited about both of these series. I think they are very pertinent right now, and I hope you all get something from them. I know I will get many things from reflecting upon them and writing them. 🙂
And, here are a couple other blog topics I am currently working on.
The illusion of control
Confusion to clarity: order, disorder, reorder, order
Why letting go is so hard
Work? Busy. I’ve been working more on my social media presence, especially on LinkedIn. If you’ve not connected with me, and would like to, please do. You can find me here.
We are almost ready to launch fall classes. We will have over 120 remote community education classes on offer. Pretty amazing. If you’ve never taken a remote community education class, and would like to, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration opens on 8/31.
Personal? Spending time working on me. Like many of you, I would like desperately to be with other people right now, yet know that is not helpful, or necessary. So, I am spending my time writing, reading, watching a show here and there, meditating, and going for walks and hikes while the weather is so nice.
Because the theme of the next couple of weeks is about transformation and the social construction of life, here are a couple quotes on these two topics.
“Yes, your transformation will be hard. Yes, you will feel frightened, messed up and knocked down. Yes, you’ll want to stop. Yes, it’s the best work you’ll ever do.” -Robin Sharma
“Transformation isn’t sweet and bright. It’s a dark and murky, painful pushing. An unraveling of the untruths you’ve carried in your body. A practice in facing your own created demons. A complete uprooting, before becoming.” -Victoria Erickson
“Human existence is, ab initio, an ongoing externalization. As man externalizes himself, he constructs the world into which he externalizes himself. In the process of externalization, he projects his own meanings into reality. Symbolic universes, which proclaim that all reality is humanly meaningful and call upon the entire cosmos to signify the validity of human existence, constitute the farthest reaches of this projection.80 b.” ― Peter L. Berger, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge
Forgive the highly gendered language in the last quote. It was written a long time ago. Actually, let’s write it again, with more appropriate language. Here we go.
“Human existence is, ab initio, an ongoing externalization. As [humans] externalize [themselves], [they] construct the world into which [they] externalize [themselves]. In the process of externalization, [they] project [their] own meanings into reality. Symbolic universes, which proclaim that all reality is humanly meaningful and call upon the entire cosmos to signify the validity of human existence, constitute the farthest reaches of this projection.” (Berger, 1966.)
Alright, that’s it for this entry. I hope that you are all doing well, living well, loving well, creating well, and developing well.
Berger, Peter L, and Thomas Luckmann. The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge. , 1967. Print.
Thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.‘its landscape has undergone a radical transformation’
A metamorphosis during the life cycle of an animal.‘Both the molting process and the metamorphic transformation from larva to pupa are coordinated and regulated by hormones.’
Ah, do you see the dinsticiton? Either way, let’s work it through.
When you are interested in development, meaning available to it, you occupy a space that welcome’s learning. You stand outside of what you believe to be true about the world, and how you occupy it, and welcome new knowledge, new types of understanding, and new ways of being. Simple. Or is it?
Well, because we have an ego, or, wait, do we? Well, for the purposes of this post, let’s assume we do. Because we have an ego, we don’t like being wrong.
We are constantly seeking validation of what we know. Why?
Because it fits into our worldview. It is what we know. When information comes in, we assemble it into the the narrative of our worldview and who we believe we are. We confirm our ego.
If the information doesn’t fit into our current worldview, we really only have two choices.
Deny the existence of this new information, or become open to it.
Denying this new information is called denial. We are actively denying that another way to look at a situation or event is possible. Egocentric.
However, when we are open to the possibility that there are other ways to think about a situation or event, we have now entered into the developmental arena.
Meaning, that we can now take this new information in, make sense of it, and do something with it.
Even if the information doesn’t fit into our current worldview, if we are open, we can incorporate it into our worldview rather easily. It is all about being open to new information, new ways of understanding, and new ways of being.
The simplest example is to consider development at school and work. When we are confronted with new information, we have a choice. Assimilate and incorporate that new information into our existing worldview, creating new knowledge, or reject it.
I am always in conversation with the team about our goals, objectives, and priorities. Recently, I was asked about hiring someone to run Zoom technology for the upcoming professional development trainings.
I, however, was unsure about the need. Didn’t know. I needed to think about it.
Well, the next week, I ran a Zoom meeting with the team. The meeting was 90-minutes and was about creating our next 30-day priorities. Part of the meeting was creating breakout rooms, which you can do in Zoom. The meeting was a complete disaster. Really, it was. What did I learn?
That you absolutely need someone to run technology while the person running the meeting does just that, runs the meeting. I learned through doing the meeting that hiring someone for a Zoom tech position was absolutely necessary. We are hiring someone right now.
I moved from questioning the need, reflecting upon it, to learning that we definitely needed the new position. I developed.
Alright, that’s development. Opportunities for development are available every day. If you don’t see them, it might be that you are avoiding them or in denial about them. It’s not a demerit. I didn’t develop for a long time. Really. I wasn’t interested. Not a judgement. Just a fact. Let’s now look at transformation.
Now, transformation implies a complete change to the object, thing, or person. Yep, that’s right. How then does transformation differ from development?
While development requires an active openness, as we’ve discussed, transformation requires openness and a complete and total letting go of what was, in favor of what will be. It requires a shift from a focus on the external to the internal.
Transformation is about questioning all you know. Every ounce of what you know, or beleive you know, must be questioned.
Further, you must be willing to let go of how you previously viewed the world. Open to a continual process of creating new information, new ways of understanding, and new ways of being.
The distinction is that with transformation you actively seek out opportunities to question the ways you think, act, and occur. Internally focused.
You are continuously interested in disrupting your old habits and ways of thinking while creating new habits and ways of thinking.
Let me give you an example to help with the distinction.
Let us say you want to develop leadership skills. You can develop leadership skills in lots of ways. You can take classes, read books, even put leadership principles into practice in your life. That is development.
You incorporate new information into the preexisting way you already think about leadership. Simple. How then to create transformation? Mm. Different.
You must be willing to let go of all of your preconceived ideas about what leaders are supposed to do, how they are supposed to act, and how they are supposed to be. All of them. Then what?
You leave your ego at the door.
And, everything you think you know about leadership. Start over. Really. Let it all go. And, create from there.
Transformation can only occur when we let go. Know also that the letting go will need to happen again, and again, and again. Over and over. Why? Because you are disrupting what you held to be true, and creating something new. Key. You are not adding, you are creating.
Let’s see. Okay. Here we go.
When the pandemic began here locally, we were approaching the last week of the term at the community college where I work. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I work in community and continuing education. It is all experiential. All of it. Which means that it is in-person. All of it is, or was.
Within one month of the pandemic beginning here, we let go of all the concepts we held to be true about our business model. All of them. What happened?
We created an entirely new business model. A model that is transformational, as all aspects of it are completely different than the previous model. All of them.
We created all new processes and systems for how we do business. New ways we market and engage with the local community, new ways that instructors teach their classes, even the content that is delivered, while similar, is still completely new. Why?
Because a completely new context has been created. And it was created intentionally by believing something else was possible. Which then replaced our current belief system of how we all viewed our work.
All of us. now our actions follow that new belief system. That is transformation.
When you intentionally create new ways to be, new ways to think, new ways to believe, new ways to be a human, you are creating contexts that are transformational. Never seen or experienced before. Transformation.
How are development and transformation similar?
One key way. When you develop, whether you want to or not, you give out your development to others. If those around you are open, they will learn from you and also develop. And, it is the exact same for you. If those around you are developing, and you are open you will also develop.
It is the same with transformation. If you are creating transformational contexts that change the nature of what’s possible, those around you, if they are open, will also transform. If they are open. If not, then they won’t. Same for development.
Can development lead to transformation?
Oh, yes, absolutely. In some ways, they sort of go together, which is why I wanted to write about the distinction. Whereas they are different, they both are about being open to and participating in creating change.
Here is a distinction on the difference between change and transformation.
“Change is about using external influences to modify actions to achieve desired results. Transformation is about modifying beliefs so that natural actions achieve the desired results.”
See the difference? One is externally driven, and one is internally driven. Very similar to the distinction between development and transformation. Important.
How do you begin to develop or transform?
Really it’s pretty simple, yet not easy. A paradox, yep. My suggestion?
Be open to everything around you. Being open is probably the key to both development and transformation. Both become possible when we are open to new information and new experiences.
When we are open, the world opens up. It really does. There is so much to learn and to experience. Being open creates an immediate possibility. The possibility that you will learn to be more. More of either how you already occur, or more by occurring in a completely new way in a completely new context.
Have you ever heard of community and continuing education, or noncredit education? Yes, no? Either way, that’s okay. Most people know very little about the breadth, accessibility, and availability of community and continuing education.
Before taking my current position, as the Director of Extended Learning at Linn-Benton Community College, I knew very little about community and continuing education. Sure, I’d heard of community classes, yet they were not something I had access to growing up.
Learning, then, that community and continuing education, of which corporate training, professional development, and small business development are also a part, are far more accessible and available than I knew, and many people know was enlightening. And, right now, access to these classes is needed more than ever.
Community and Continuing Education
Now more than ever people need a place to connect with other people. Humans are social beings. Regardless of whether you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert, people need to be with other people. And, right now, that’s hard. Really hard.
Community and continuing education provides such a space. Yep, even right now. Though, for sure, COVID-19 has presented unprecedented challenges for educators all across the country, some organizations have found ways to continue to serve. How?
Creating new ways to deliver education that is typically considered and associated with an in-person experience. Prior to COVID-19 becoming a local reality, the Extended Learning Department at Linn-Benton Community College had only a handful of remote classes and training. Starting this fall?
The Department will have over 120 Community Education classes, 4 cohorts (all full with a winter term waitlist) of Professional Development training, at least one Driver Education class, and over 10 Small Business Development Center classes and workshops. And, yep, they are all remote. Phew. Unprecedented change. Why does it matter?
Though taking a class or a training during a massive pandemic may seem like the wrong time, it is exactly the right time. There has never been a more “right” time to be connected with other human beings. Never been a more right time to continue to learn, to grow, to move ourselves and everyone around us forward. It is just so. The right time.
Easy. You sign up for a class or training you want to take, and take it. Simple. Now, we’ve experienced lots of technological challenges in delivering these new remote classes. A wonderful learning experience. And, like anything, there is really only one way to learn something, and that is to do it. Simple.
“Fill your life with experiences. Not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.” -Anonymous
If you are unsure where to look, take a look at the local community college, University, or Parks and Recreation department where you live. Will they have remote classes? Don’t know. However, many have been offering remote classes, and I think more will follow. And, if you don’t have access? Well, you can always reach out to Extended Learning at Linn-Benton Community College. Yep.
It is most important to know that there are classes and training happening right now. Whether it is in the community you live in, or in another community miles away. Because these classes and training are remote, the miles matter less, than knowing that they are available and accessible.
For more information on how to access Linn-Benton Community College Extended Learning classes and training you can email Jeff Flesch at email@example.com.
Once your vision is created, then what? Regardless of whether it is a 10-year, 5-year, or 3-year vision, you will need to put plans in place that will connect the daily work to that vision. That is how your 10-year vision will become a reality.
What, then, are the first steps to ensure that your weekly, monthly, and quarterly work connects to the long-term vision?
In this article we will walk through the process we went through to connect the 10-year vision to our 90-day priorities. First, another question.
Where does a leader start when they want to ensure that everyone’s daily work on the team, or in the business or organization they belong to is contributing to the long-term goals?
Let’s take a look.
Start with the 10-year Vision and ask yourself a couple of questions.
What are the goals of the 10-year vision?
What are the metrics of the 5-year plan?
What will the current year look like?
Let’s look at each question, one at a time.
What are the goals of the 10-year vision?
Once the vision is created, it’s time to create the goals that will drive all of the work. However, before you move on to creating those goals, which will drive the objectives and priorities, ask yourself what your vision will look like in reality.
What will the revenue and service look like, what will the staffing model look like, will you add positions between now and then?
Once you’ve asked yourself these questions, or ones that are more important to your particular vision, start to build out what that vision will look like in reality. Here is an example, vision first, then what it will look like in reality.
Here is the vision
Here is what it will look like
Once you’ve created the 10-year vision, and also know what it will look like, you are ready to work backward. When I went through this exercise last year, I started this part of the planning session with year 5. I looked at the previously designated metrics and asked myself what they would look like in reality. For instance, what would revenue look like, and how many people would we serve.
What are the metrics of the 5-year plan?
Here is what that looked like
It is a wonderful exercise to start with the larger 10-year vision and to work backward to the 5-year plan, creating more clarity as you go. It is how you begin to connect the 10-year vision with the work you need to do today.
Once you’ve worked backward to year 5, you are ready to work backward once again to year 3, or whatever the current year is for your team, business, or organization. It is important to continue to get clearer on what the future reality will look like.
What will the current year look like?
Year 3 Department Objectives
As you continue to work backward from the 10-year vision to year 5, to the current year you are planning for, in this example, year 3, the objectives that will lead the team to that 10-year vision do become more clear. Important.
And, as these objectives become more clear, so will the priorities that will drive each person’s work. For instance, in our year 3, we had 1-year objectives, which we executed on in 90-day chunks. Meaning that we focused on moving forward our yearly objectives with 90-day priorities that would shift as needed, yet the objectives would remain the same.
Year 3 Staff Objectives
Once you get to 90-day priorities, it is time to create a coaching model that will mirror all of the aforementioned. Fully discussing this coaching model is for another article, yet I would like to share with you the simple template we created, so you can see how a 10-year vision can connect to a staff member’s daily work.
Coaching Model Template
Though you can only see a portion of the form, you can see the overall process, where the yearly objectives (on the left) are connected to the department objectives (on the left in bold), while the specific priorities and actions to move that work forward are on the right. Fun.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote the following article, One BHAG, Two BHAG, and Creating a Disruption Vision, in which we discussed the possibility of creating a disruption vision or BHAG inside of a 10-year vision. And now, the planning process we’ve walked through in this article is being recreated. The difference?
Because there is so much change right now, we have a 1-year BHAG, which lives inside of the 10-year vision, and 30-day priorities, instead of 90. I am in the process right now of re-instituting one-with-ones so that we can discuss, plan, and create our next actions one month at a time. Allowing us the pivotability, and flexibility needed.
Very well. There you have an example, with tools, on how you can connect your team, business, or organizations’ 10-year vision to the work that needs to be done daily to ensure that the 10-year vision will live in reality.
Be well, and lead well.
You can reach Jeff Flesch at firstname.lastname@example.org
A couple of weeks ago I watched the movie, On the Basis of Sex. The movie is about the early career of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG). There were several insights and inspirations that came from watching this movie, which I am sharing with you now.
There is a moment late in the movie where RBG has a choice. Choose to stand, embrace vulnerability, walk through it, and give the District Court Justices all she had. Wow. Was a pivotal point.
It reminds me that we all have choices. When we are confronted with difficulty, people telling us we can’t, we’re not good enough, not pretty enough, not thin enough, not insert here whatever you’ve been told. We have a choice.
We can allow these people to have power over us by accepting and holding onto the reality they are creating; or, we can create a different reality. One that gives us the space to love ourselves for exactly who we are. Right now, in this moment.
We must first accept ourselves, both our “weaknesses” and our “strengths.” Every aspect of who we are. Why? Because when we resist aspects of ourselves, they actually grow and become more present.
Choose love over fear.
RBG. Period. Did you know that when at Harvard Law School, her husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer. What did RBG do? Hm. Only attend both of their classes, and assist her husband with his school work, while, yep, also completing all of her work. Impressive and inspirational.
RBG was also told repeatedly by many different people that her driving force to create gender equity was not possible. RBG was given every reason in the world to quit. Give up. And? Mm. Persistence.
RBG is responsible for massive change in the nature of gender equity in this country. Insightful and inspirational.
I had a hard time choosing my favorite RBG quote, so am including all of the ones I found.
“Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.”
“So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune.”
“Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.”
“When a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best tune out.”
“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
“You can’t have it all, all at once.”
“I’m a very strong believer in listening and learning from others.”
“In the course of a marriage, one accommodates the other”
“In every good marriage, it helps sometimes to be a little deaf.”
“A gender line…helps to keep women not on a pedestal, but in a cage.”
“If you want to be a true professional, do something outside yourself.”
“Reading is the key that opens doors to many good things in life. Reading shaped my dreams, and more reading helped me make my dreams come true.”
“Don’t be distracted by emotions like anger, envy, resentment. These just zap energy and waste time.”
“You can disagree without being disagreeable.”
“If you have a caring life partner, you help the other person when that person needs it. I had a life partner who thought my work was as important as his, and I think that made all the difference for me.”
“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.”
“I would like to be remembered as someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability.”
I’ve written about leadership on this site a few times, so I’m doing something new over the next few days. I’ll be posting some articles I’ve written on leadership. New content on this site, and a conversation that is relevant and important right now. Enjoy. 🙂
Leadership in Practice Series Part 1
What do leaders do when everything they’ve prepared themselves and their teams for is suddenly, within hours, less relevant than ever before? Less relevant as a massive health pandemic, COVID-19, crosses the Atlantic Ocean and shows up in the United States. Not sure? Though I’ve lived it for these past three months, I’m not sure either. So, let’s take a look at what happened, and some of what I’ve learned these past three months.
COVID-19 Takes Root Locally
In early March I received an ominous email from by boss, which read something like this: if the College suddenly needs to close with little to no notice, what is your plan to continue service? Wait, what? At the time, I was admittedly ignorant about the scope of the COVID-19 health crisis in the United States, and the speed at which the virus was making its way towards the West Coast. What to do?
Well, I acted as I would have under any other circumstance. I sent the team the query, gave them a due date for feedback, which was extremely short, and gathered the information. I then rolled the information up into a document to share with my boss. We did this all within 48 hours.
I’ll be the first to admit that the plan was extremely basic, as our business model is one that requires, at least I thought so then, an in-person experience. Within two weeks of creating that plan, we found out that the College was going completely online to finish the Winter Term. Because, at the time, we did not have online or remote classes or training, we cancelled the last week of Winter Term to ensure the safety of our students and clients.
Get this. You are in your third term of the academic year, you just cancelled the last week of the term, and you are actively registering for spring, which is typically the strongest term of the year. And, your sales volume is up about 30% over the previous year. Now what do you do?
Get Into Action and Start Creating
In the next two weeks, it became very clear that the College would also be completely online and remote for Spring Term. What did we do? We started creating.
Here are some of the things we did.
We emailed all 200 instructors and asked if they would teach their in-person class remotely – note, at the time we had no systems or processes in place to offer these classes.
We moved all of our Professional Development on-campus training to Fall Term.
We communicated with all of our instructors, clients, partners, and students, letting them know about the College’s direction. We also inquired with other Colleges as to their plans, which was a very helpful decision. It gave us sight that other Colleges were also going remote, if they had the capability and financing.
We created an operations plan out of thin air. Here are a few examples of that plan.
Daily remote operations check-in’s.
Remote one-with-one’s as needed.
Twice-a-week remote registration staff meetings.
Weekly remote all-staff department meetings.
Bi-weekly program meetings.
Each staff member identified their top three remote work priorities.
We created many new processes, which included new ways to:
Register students and clients
Interact with all of our instructors, and clients
Track student enrollment
Engage and market our products and services to the community
The point is, we did not sit back and wait for someone to explain the “how to” of the COVID-19 health crisis. There is no such thing. There never was, and never will be. You create on the fly, you do the best you can, and you serve.
You create possibilities where none ever existed before. You listen to your team, and to every idea they have. And, you take action on the best ones – the ones with the most impact.
You also continue to foster, and grow the team, which ensures you are continuing to grow the relationships with your instructors, students, and clients – those relationships are everything.
Keeping Relationships Strong
I’ve always said that relationships are everything. Really, they are. Nothing happens without high-quality relationships. Nothing. Everything is predicated on the strength of the relationships you have with those around you. However, working and living inside of the COVID-19 health crisis has taken my thinking and belief that relationships are everything to another level entirely.
Let’s take a look at a couple of the things we did to ensure that our relationships stayed strong during this most uncertain time.
Continue Creating Safety
Your team must feel safe to pursue the unknown with you. I believe this is true all the time, yet when your entire business model gets thrown out the window by a pandemic, and everyone is also concerned about their own physical safety, it is even more true. Having and continuing to create safety for your team is of utmost importance.
Create Even More Consistency and Structure
Another thing that was/is important, is the ability to create structure and consistency. When you are living in a highly unstable time, where change happens sometimes on a daily basis (hourly even), creating a consistent operations communication plan is critical. People must be able to depend on regularity, especially with so much uncertainty.
Create New Ways to Engage With Your Clients and Students
When we learned that the print schedule, which lists all of our experiential classes, was irrelevant, as all the in-person classes advertised were now in the process of being converted to remote classes, or were being cancelled, we pivoted and created a new digital schedule format. We then created processes to ensure we were collecting information needed, to digitally communicate with our students.
Now, let’s take a look at a couple of things you can do when your current business model, which was functioning well, is no longer relevant.
Recreating and Iterating Your Business Model
As was aforementioned, when COVID-19 began locally, our business model was functioning well, yet would become irrelevant if we did not act quickly. Here are a couple of the things we did to stay relevant.
Let Go of What Worked in the Past
One of the things we recognized very early on, was that we would have to create several entirely new business models – and, that work continues today. It can be hard to let go of a business model that is profitable. You must, however, when you are faced with a situation where that business model is no longer relevant or sustainable. If you don’t, your competition will pass right by you, and you will be out of business.
Create New Business Models that Fit the Current Reality
When we began to pivot our business models, we created on the fly, and, as was aforementioned, got all of our instructors into the conversation very early. Having strong relationships with our more than 200 instructors created the possibility that we could begin to deliver remote classes, something we had never done before.
Continue to Iterate the Business Models as Needed
We continued to iterate the business models as needed, and have continued to add new components, and take out others, as we’ve learned what has worked best. As humans, we have a desire to want to implement something that will be effective, and then stand back and watch it work. However, it’s not always that simple. Often it is not, in fact. Especially during such an uncertain time. So, when something is not working, get rid of it, and try something new. We’ve done that, are doing it now, and will continue to do it as often as needed.
All of the aforementioned sounds simple, and it was not. There was also a ton of uncertainty, fear, and anxiety that went with the plans and actions we’ve created and taken these past three months. Within myself, and within the team. However, we did not let that fear and anxiety stop the work that needed to get done.
Additionally, we have wonderful instructors. They are the main reason why we were able to offer 43 remote classes in Community Education spring term, and 73 for summer. The College was also extremely supportive, allowing us the space we needed to innovate.
The lessons I’ve learned in leadership these past three months are just now starting to surface. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to learn more about myself, and our team these past three months. I knew they were a resilient bunch, yet their level of resilience surpassed even my expectations.
Now as businesses start to reopen, we are continuing to consider what our next steps will be. No one can ever know the future, and, sometimes, as the COVID-19 health crisis proved, the best laid plans can go asunder. However, if you are up to the task, you can thrive in an environment that is completely unknown to you. You take one step at a time. You continue to foster your relationships, be who you are, and create anew over and over again; and, you watch and learn from all of the wonderful people around you.
Questions for you
What have you done to stay in action in your business (or life) during the past 6 months?
How have you kept relationships strong through all of the recent changes?
How have you iterated your business (or life) model to stay relevant and grow during COVID-19?
For most of my life I associated breakdowns with something to be avoided. An issue? Not necessarily. However, consider that breakdowns always lead to breakthroughs. And, without breakthroughs there is no movement. Movement, you ask?
I mean you cannot move your life into new realms of understanding and experience when you avoid breakdowns. Not possible. However, when you are open to an understanding that includes breakdowns and the associated breakthroughs as part of the human experience, you can move your life into new realms. Really.
Before we go further, let’s take a look at the definition of breakdown.
A mechanical failure.‘breakdowns could totally disrupt production’
A failure of a relationship or system.‘a breakdown in military discipline’
2. A sudden collapse in someone’s mental health.‘Heather had a breakdown following the death of her sister’
The chemical or physical decomposition of something.‘the breakdown of ammonia to nitrites’
3. An explanatory analysis, especially of statistics.‘a detailed cost breakdown’
A lively, energetic American country dance.
Alright, let’s use 1.2 for the purposes of this conversation.
You may then ask, well, how do I become open to breakdowns as part of my regular daily experience? Ah, good. Let’s take a look at three things you can do every day that will ensure that you fully experience your breakdowns and the associated breakthroughs.
1. Welcome the Breakdowns
Often human beings avoid doing something new because we believe we need to look good and be right. Seriously. Take a moment right now, and really sit inside of this concept for a minute. And? Yep.
If you are really open to this conversation, you will agree that you too often avoid new experiences, because to be vulnerable and admit we don’t know is hard. Really hard.
Let me write that again. Being vulnerable and admitting we don’t know about something is hard. Really hard.
It is okay to acknowledge that; to admit this truth. It is. Admitting this truth simply means you are now aware that new experiences frighten people. With this new awareness you can now work from a space that allows for more openness. A paradox. Yep.
Actually becoming aware of this truth immediately opens you up. Right away. How? Because when we are no longer avoiding something about ourselves that we don’t like, and we embrace reality as it is, we create a new space within ourselves to know ourselves better, and to learn.
What to do?
The next time you are invited to take on something new that you don’t know much about, or have tried in the past and failed, try it again. Why?
Because inside of your new awareness about breakdowns, you have a new understanding; that breakdowns are normal. We need them to move ourselves forward. We need them to get to breakthroughs. Welcome the breakdowns. It simply means you are on the right track.
2.Ask for Help
Another thing hard for many humans to do is ask for help. Why? Because like trying new things, admitting that we need help, makes us fearful. When we act with a need to look good and be right, there is no space to ask for help. We see it as a weakness. Again a paradox. Why?
Because as I’ve written about in other posts, the idea that we know everything there is to know about any topic is silly. No matter how many degrees you have, or how much practical experience you have, there is always something to learn. Always.
Within this context, asking for help is normal. And, it is. Very normal. Does that mean asking for help is easy? No. Admitting we don’t know, need help, no matter what it is we are doing is hard. Very hard.
However, like understanding that breakdowns are normal, having this new understanding about asking for help, immediately opens you up. Opens you up to understanding the true nature of your humanity. And, in this space, you have the opportunity to learn more, be more, and know more. Awesome.
What to do?
When you are in breakdown, stay there. Yep, that’s right. Stay inside of that breakdown, and really feel it. Then, if you get a breakthrough, great. If not, ask for help. There is everything right about asking for help. Think about it like this. If you don’t ever ask for help, you are not expanding that which you know.
And, when we stop expanding what we know, we are limiting ourselves, and our human potential. Your potential is vast. It already is. If you experience that vastness, wonderful. If you’ve yet to experience it, don’t worry. Follow the steps in this post, and you will begin to experience it. Really.
3. Capture the Breakthroughs
You will never know when a breakthrough will come. Sometimes you will get a breakthrough right on the other side of a breakdown. Sometimes it will be later. It’s okay. Normal.
What’s important is to capture your breakthroughs. In the moment you have a breakthrough, you may not even be sure what it is related to; and, that’s okay. Write it down anyway. Hold onto it. You will see where it belongs eventually.
Once you know where your breakthrough insight belongs, you can make plans to implement it into that area of your life. Sometimes you will choose to do this right away; and, sometimes you will wait. Both are fine. It matters less when you implement your breakthrough, than it is that you stay open to adopting it in some way. Why?
Because that breakthrough is a direct result of a breakdown you had. Whether you can trace the breakthrough back to a breakdown, it is related. Important. And, why it is so important to track and capture your breakthrough in some way.
Let’s now take a look at the definition of breakthrough.
A sudden, dramatic, and important discovery or development.‘a major breakthrough in DNA research’
1. An instance of achieving success in a particular sphere or activity.as modifier‘the band’s breakthrough album’
Alright, we’ve now discussed a journey from breakdown to breakthrough. Though there is much more to discuss about breakdowns and breakthroughs, we covered enough to keep you moving.
When I started seeing my lifecoach 3 years ago, she once asked me this question:
Can you limp along a little while longer?
At that time in my life, a concept like a journey from breakdown to breakthrough was not available to me. Well, it was, however, I was not paying attention, nor was I in touch with myself. When we are out of touch with our own humanity the conversation we just had is harder to put into action.
However, what I’ve come to realize in the past three years, is that with guidance and persistence, the journey from breakdown to breakthrough can become a reality for everyone.
A reality that includes welcoming our breakdowns, a willingness to ask for help, and a system we can use to capture our breakthroughs so we can learn, and move ourselves forward.
I’ve been reflecting a lot about developing and managing my own resilience this week; and, just how important both are right now. So important. What is resilience you ask? Good question. Here is the definition.
(also resiliency) Pronunciation /rəˈzilyəns/ /rəˈzɪljəns/ Translate resilience into Spanish
NOUN 1. The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.‘the often remarkable resilience of so many British institutions’
2. The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.‘nylon is excellent in wearability and resilience’
Essentially resilience is our ability to face adversity, walk through it, learn, and repeat. Again, and again.
I’ve also been thinking about a video I’m going to do soon on resilience for my Developing Servant Leaders site. The idea looks something like this.
What we are facing right now is a huge gap between that which we once knew to be our reality, and the current COVID-19 reality. A large gap. Inside of this gap, we are all being asked to face ourselves and each other in new ways, with new tools, in entirely new contexts. Hard.
For those that are less resilient, even harder. Resiliency, like all developmental traits, lives upon a continuum. It is not that someone has resilience or does not. Everyone has some, some have more. Alright, next.
When you connect the four points of the above whiteboard, you can see the space that we are being asked to navigate and step into. A distinction. Stepping into reality is different from hiding, and running from reality.
It means taking the action you know is there to take, even, maybe especially, when it is hard.
Now, you can see the above box, yes? Alright, then within that, let’s call it the COVID-19 developmental box, there are lots of other little boxes, which represent each of us and our comfort zones.
Yep. Meaning that as we interact with, and bump into each other, we are continuously floating in the COVID-19 developmental box. Then how, you may ask, do we develop our resiliency?
We step outside of our box and into the reality that is in front of us. What is stepping outside of your box? It is doing. Again, and again.
Learning, practicing, falling down, failing – AND, getting back up again. Every time.
Know that we don’t have to continuously live outside of our box, or comfort zone. We can, what a friend of mine calls it, blip out, and blip back. Here you go.
And, guess what? Everytime we go outside of our box, represented above by arrows, and do something that we consider uncomfortable, we grow. Yep, our box or container gets bigger. Here is one more illustration.
As you can see from the above illustration, some people will grow, boxes labeled with a G are now larger, some will not. It’s not a demerit, or a problem if there is no growth. It is, however, a missed opportunity to learn more about yourself and being human. Alright, last section.
Also know, especially when you are feeling overwhelmed, that all there is to know and to be experienced in this world, is much larger than this present moment. The COVID-19 moment. Last illustration.
Let us say that the entire whiteboard is what is knowable. Got it. Okay. Then consider that the super small box you see is what we’ve been calling the COVID-19 developmental box or gap. Yep. Pretty small in the proper scale.
Remember this distinction when you are confronted with uncomfortableness; and, remember it when you are feeling overwhelmed.
Though today COVID-19 feels like everything there ever was to know, on a universal and historical scale, there is far more to know and experience. Seriously remember that.
There are countless opportunities to develop your resilience today. More opportunities than most people would care to have. Really. And, believe me when I tell you that there are days when I feel the same way. Really. It’s hard.
Yet, like all of life, it is a paradox. Because the opportunity to develop and to learn how to manage our resilience is also a wondrous process. Yep. Hard and wonderful. A paradox.
This past week, as you can tell from three of my most recent posts, I’ve been thinking a lot about resilience, breakdowns and breakthroughs, and getting unstuck. I’m unsure if I actually connected the three concepts in the posts, so I am going to do so here real quick, promise. 🙂
In the post, A Journey from Breakdown to Breakthrough, I write about how breakdowns are normal. Though there is a stigma attached to breakdowns, especially in the U.S., they are perfectly normal. More, they are needed. When we welcome our breakdowns, we get to breakthroughs, which then opens us up to more insight.
How are they connected?
Being more aware of how we feel, when we feel frustrated, anxious, angry, or nervous means that we are not addressing something. As possible, we are not welcoming a breakdown. Maybe we are resisting it, because we think it’s a problem to have a breakdown. If that’s so, it’s okay. I lived that way for a long time.
However, what I’ve come to realize is that welcoming breakdowns when they are there, will move us to breakthrough, and guess what? When we move from breakdown to breakthrough, we are now unstuck. Consider that when we avoid breakdowns, we remain stuck.
And, when we move from stuck to unstuck by addressing something we’ve been avoiding, or are in denial about, we increase our resilience. Yep. It’s so. Resiliency increases as we face difficult situations. Sometimes those situations are external, sometimes internal. Consider also, at some level they are always internal.
Lastly, continuing to live through COVID-19 reminds me that being aware of the following is needed now more than ever.
The importance of
Being sensitive to how we feel.
Welcoming our breakdowns.
Using our breakthroughs; and,
Moving from stuck to unstuck again and again, which
Expands our containers, and increases our overall level of resilience.
We are all going to have to face, whether we want to acknowledge it or not, many, many, more unknowns in the months to come. And, living inside of the unknown is a very uncomfortable place for most people. However, there are actions we can all take to increase our resiliency, which will make the unknown less scary.
There are actions here, and in each of the aforementioned posts, which walk you through strategies you can utilize, if you choose, to increase your awareness and resilience, which you may find beneficial in the long run.