Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Transformation: From Breakdown to Breakthrough – Part II

We’ve all been there, working on a project or toward a goal that seems to elude us, or, at the very least, is not happening as quickly as we would like it to happen. Our very human tendency at this point is to work harder, faster and longer. This approach usually winds up in the dynamic of what I refer to as “hamster wheel syndrome,” where much energy is expended in service of the illusion of forward movement. At this point, many people experience mental and physical exhaustion, simply give up and interpret their lack of results as a failure or breakdown. I ask that you consider for a moment that it might also be a sign of progress. Let me explain…..

Arthur Young speaks to our breakdown experiences in his Process Theory. According to Young, in the early stages of change, our intense efforts to make something happen initially result in the experience of increased restraints and a lack of results. Ultimately, we reach a point of maximum restraint (imagine the bottom of the letter V) where most people tend to quit or mentally give up. Unfortunately, those who give up at or before the point of maximum restraint miss out on what ultimately follows this point. Beyond the point of maximum restraint resides the dynamic of accelerating velocity – the point where energy optimally shifts and results organically flow from minimal efforts.

It’s highly challenging for most of us to stay engaged in a goal or project when in the dynamic of increasing restraint, painfully and slowly moving toward the point of maximum restraint. It’s critical at this point to intentionally and strategically reexamine both your commitment to your project, as well as your approach. This is the precise time when slowing down is ultimately in service of speeding up. Focus on identifying and working with leverage points, rather than on the familiar fallback of working, harder, faster and longer. Working with leverage points during times of increasing restraint will serve to conserve your energy, optimize your efforts and keep your momentum moving forward. Ultimately, this slow and steady forward momentum will move you beyond the point of maximum restraint and into the energy and gifts inherent in the accelerating velocity aspect of the change process. Try it!


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