Simple Goals

imagesWe’ve been talking about GOALS this month. The purpose is to help you understand the importance of creating goals in your life and in your work.

I’ve received some comments from people who are just overwhelmed by the work involved in creating SMART GOALS, which we highly recommend.  We’ve also talked about the fact that often we don’t create goals because we’re just afraid of failure.

Today I want to take a step back, and remind you that setting goals doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be really simple.

Here are 3 thoughts on SIMPLE GOALS:

#1) WRITE IT DOWN

For many of us, one of the hardest steps is taking a goal from our mind and putting it on paper. I want to encourage you to just “write it down”. Don’t worry about defining it at this point. Don’t worry about validating it at this point. Just write it down someplace and let it sit. The goal will begin to work itself out as you study it, think about it, put practical steps to it, but the first thing is to write it down.

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#2) CREATE SOME ACTION STEPS

For many of us, we may take the step of writing the goal down, then we do nothing with it. We may lose the paper, we may ignore it, we may fight it. The second thing we need to do is to create some simply action steps. What can we do that will help us achieve this goal. An example would be: I want to lose 10 pounds.  Action steps might be:  weigh myself today, determine where and when I will exercise, develop a menu plan, etc…    What are the first steps you need to take to even begin moving towards the goal.

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#3) KEEP IT IN FRONT OF YOU

For many of us, we need to be constantly reminded of what it is we’re trying to accomplish. I’m going to let John W. Richardson speak to this in a post on his blog, Personal Success Today. He’s got some great suggestions and a simple tool that will help you keep your goals in front of you. Read his post HERE.

 

Don’t make it too complicated. This tips can be used by kids, young people, new leaders and any professional.

If you haven’t taken that first step of creating some practical goals, try it today!

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The Goal

imagesYears ago, someone gave me the book, “The Goal”, by Eliyahu M. Goldratt & Jeff Cox.

I remember picking it up years ago, and thinking that it was a book about “Goal Setting”, only to be disappointed at first that it was a book that basically told the story of a crisis in manufacturing, and it worked through the process that Alex, the plant manager is facing, as he also faces a crisis in his marriage. I read the book, enjoyed it, and pulled some things out of it that have challenged me in my  leadership over the years.

I pulled the book out again a couple of weeks ago as I began thinking about some posts on Goal Setting and some Tip Sheets to help people create and set real goals.

In this book, one of the things they work through is the idea of the “Theory of Constraints”. The Theory of Constraints basically tells us that everything is vulnerable in leadership because there is always a “weak link” or a “bottleneck” in any process that keeps us from accomplishing what it is we set out to do.

The book works through this process and explains how this works.

Now, I want to come to the point of this post.

We’re talking about GOALS this month, and those of you that know me know that I speak often of the importance of  GOOD GOALS, of SMART GOALS, of ANY KIND OF GOALS. I simply believe that if we are able to create, manage and tackle goals, it will help us grow our organizations, it will help us grow as individual leaders, and it will increase our effectiveness and our impact.

I believe this. I’ve seen it work. I’ve experienced this, both in times of effective goal setting and in times of a complete lack of clear and practical goals.  I know that we’re better leaders when we have something to work towards.

For some of us, the reason we don’t accomplish our goals comes back to this “Theory of Constraint”. We have great intentions, we have great ideas, we even have great goals, but something keeps us from accomplishing them, and we’re just tired of failing at our goals, so we stop creating them.

Here are 5 things that might be keeping you from experiencing the effect of great goals in your life and work:

#1) SMART GOALS

Our goals aren’t good ones. The idea of SMART GOALS basically tells us that goals have to be: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.  More on SMART GOALS…

#2) PRIORITIES

We have great intentions, but we let other things get in the way. We fight the “Tyranny of the Urgent”. We let good things crowd our lives and it keeps us from accomplishing GREAT things.

#3) FOCUS

We live in a world that is full of noise, opportunity, need and crisis. We haven’t learned how to focus on the most important things. This sounds like priorities, but it’s deeper than that… it’s the ability to stick with something when there are so many other things fighting for our attention.

#4) DECISION MAKING

Sometimes we’re afraid to make decisions because they might be wrong. We are paralyzed by fear that keeps us from doing anything. We would rather be “stuck” than make a wrong decision.

#5) INDEPENDENCE

We don’t accomplish our goals because we don’t ask for help when we need it. We think that good goals are ones that we can do on our own. We forget that we need other people sometimes. We forget that sometimes we CAN’T do it ourselves.

Are any of these things creating a bottleneck between you and the goals you have created and are hoping to accomplish? Figure out what’s keeping you from your goals, and fix it! Don’t allow one or all of these things keep you from greater success, greater accomplishment and greater impact.

Don’t give up on your GOALS!

Posted in Leadership Coaching, Organizational Development, Personal Leadership, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

Get In The Ring: Embracing Healthy Conflict In Your Team

imgresAs Patrick Lencioni said in his book The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, “Fear of Conflict” is one of the things that can cripple a team.

I used to avoid conflict because it made me feel uncomfortable, over the last few years I have chosen to embrace it and have seen how it could be one the biggest blessings for a team.

An example from the early church. Acts 15:1-5. After Paul’s first missionary journey, while he stayed in Antioch for a while – some men came and preached a contrary message to the one he was preaching. He was shocked and it resulted in a “sharp dispute”. When the issue could not be resolved, he travelled ALL the way to Jerusalem to tackle the root of the problem. The issue was resolved and it ended in many other issues being addressed.

The main point is that conflict is good, normal and necessary for a team to grow.

We need to learn how to fight fair, but the reality is that some of us always avoid the fighting ring…or sit in the stands and pretend there is no ring at all…

So for all our leaders out there….

  • We need to be READY to get in the ring.

Paul did not ignore, bypass or ran away from it. He took it head on. But did not insist on being right with the men in Antioch. Rather went to attack the source tackle the issue, and not the people. Conflict is inevitable and will occur in any relationship or team. We need to expect it, anticipate it. If there is no conflict, one of you is not being honest. We are all different, so there will be differences

  • We need to be WILLING to get into the ring.

Paul called for time out. He left what he was doing, travelled long distances to resolve this issue. Handling conflict needs to be a high priority – it takes time and effort. We need to be quick and not let it linger…bitterness, division can easily creep in.

Paul said to the Ephesians: “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are angry. Do not give the devil a foothold” Eph.4:26,27

As a side note, their issue was significant. We need to sweat the small stuff and major on the majors!

  • We need to be HAPPY to get into the ring.

Paul knew the value getting in the ring: growth, increased effectiveness and peace it could bring. Also knew what lack of conflict could do: bring division, compromise the true message of the Gospel etc. For a team to thrive, conflict needs to be welcomed. Many of us, myself included, just need to change our perspective on it. If we consider the benefits of healthy conflict for our team we will embrace it; strengthening unity, revealing blind spots, clearing the air of assumptions/hard feelings. Doing self-evaluation, working on our communication and realising we are different will help a lot.

So go on, get in the RING!

 

Posted in Leadership Coaching, Personal Leadership Tagged with: , , , , , ,

What Does A Healthy Team Look Like?

imagesHave you ever been a part of a “Healthy Team”?

Think of all the teams you’ve been a part of over the course of your life: sports teams, academic teams, work teams, leadership teams, families, service teams, study teams, travel teams.  The list goes on.

When you think back, what was the “healthiest team” you were ever a part of? Can you articulate what it was about the team that made it so exceptional?

I’ve been a part of a couple of teams over the course of my life that have been incredible. I’ve also been on a number of teams that have been a real struggle and not a lot of fun.

If I were to try to pinpoint what made a team better than another one, it all comes down to “TRUST“.

Teams that engage in trust as a foundational aspect of their function, enjoy greater success and greater team member engagement.

Patrick Lencioni, in his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, talks about 5 key aspects of any team:  Results, Accountability, Commitment, Conflict and a foundation of Trust.

His book dives deeper into each of these categories, but he basically summarizes his thoughts with this quote:

“The key ingredient to building trust in not time. It is courage.”

Lencioni states that when a team has the courage to build trust and make themselves vulnerable, it lays a foundation for a team, and it changes everything else that comes from that team.

As I think back to the teams that I was a part of, trust played a huge part in them. We were a team that did some important things together:

• We spent time together, outside of our work environment

• We shared our lives: the good, the bad, the tough. We were vulnerable and that helped us develop genuine care for each other.

• We engaged in conflict. Because we had a solid foundation of trust, conflict was a positive thing and it made our team and organization better because we weren’t afraid to speak the truth and even disagree.

• We had each others backs. While we didn’t always agree, we were committed to each other and we supported and stood up for each other, especially when others weren’t around.

• We liked each other. We actually enjoyed the time we had together and made it a priority.

• We weren’t afraid to fail and we took risks, together. We knew we had the support of each other, so this gave us extra confidence.

Here’s the reality:

You can make any team you’re a part of better! Here are 4 simple steps:

#1) Make the team a PRIORITY. Let them know that they are important and that you value each of them.

#2) Define the GOALS and PURPOSE of the team. Let them know why they are on this team and what you expect from them and what you hope to accomplish.

#3) MODEL VULNERABILITY. If you want to build trust, you as the leader need to start. Show them how it’s done.

#4) INVEST the TIME into the team. Nurture relationships, in and out of the workplace. The more time you spend with people, the deeper the trust is developed.

Don’t settle to be a part of team that isn’t functioning to its capacity. Make the changes.

If you’re not the one in charge, approach the leader and offer to help.

Being a part of healthy team makes all the difference!

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Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto

IMG_0916As a kid, I grew up watching old reruns of the “Lone Ranger”. And recently I came across this joke…

One day, the Lone Ranger and Tonto were out on patrol when they came to a mountain pass. As they rode through the pass, the Lone Ranger noticed a large number of Indians looking down at them from the ridge above. He looked to the opposite ridge, and found it similarly populated. Glancing ahead and behind, he discovered the pass completely blocked by more Indians.

 “Well, Tonto, it looks like we’re headed for some trouble,” the Lone Ranger said to his faithful companion.

 “What you mean WE, white man?” came the reply.

Now the Tonto I know would never really do that. He was a faithful companion who knew there was no “I” in team! No organization has any room for “Lone Rangers”. It takes a TEAM!

May I suggest 4 qualities of a healthy team…

#1)   Trust

Here’s a Lone Ranger trivia question… Tonto called the Lone Ranger “Kemosabe”. What does this word mean? It’s a Native American term meaning “trusted (or faithful) companion”. Would your team see you as a trusted companion? Trust is built by leading with character, being consistent, and genuinely caring for your team. Are you… Kemosabe?

#2)  Encouragement AND Exhortation

Encouragement is an “arm around the shoulders” and exhortation is a “kick in the pants”. Your team needs an environment where affirmation is a normal part of the culture. The leader helps create this culture by his example. Are you a cheerleader for your team? The team also needs accountability. There must be a commitment that everyone “pulls their weight”. It demoralizes a team when others have to compensate for team members not doing their job well because the leader doesn’t have the relational character or courage to hold people accountable. Perhaps that seems harsh, but consider it the “kick in the pants” part of this blog. 🙂

#3) Authenticity

Your organization needs an environment of openness and honesty. When trust is built and people feel the freedom to be real, people will trust you when you offer encouragement and will receive exhortation because they trust your heart as a leader.

#4) Mission

“Warm fuzzy” feelings are great as everyone sings “Kumbaya” around the campfire, but at the end of the day, the team must be tenaciously committed to accomplishing the mission that links them together. The Lone Ranger and Tonto made a great team because they knew the mission… protect and serve the people by getting the bad guys. How about your team? Is the mission clear?

So Kemosabe, go build that team and accomplish your “God-sized” mission. And one more thing… “Hi-Yo Silver”!

For more on Team Building, CLICK HERE

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Who Moved My Cheese – Making Change Work For You

draft_lens5303372module44423312photo_1246865297swiss_cheese1Change is something that we go through often. I just had a child graduate from College. Her life has changed and will change. I have a son graduating from High School in a month. If he only knew the change that he will have to live! All 4 of our kids were just born yesterday (it seems like) and changed our lives completely. In our organizations there is constant change as well.

If you have never seen the 15 minute blurb on “Who moved my cheese” it is very interesting. It comes from a book by Spenser Johnson. The movie can be seen HERE.  The audio book can be found HERE. To purchase the book, CLICK HERE.

The principles have to do with the fact that we are in constant change. We need to be able to adapt and change to our circumstances around us. God has created a world where things constantly change, evolve, transition and grow. That is part of the beauty of this life.

Most of us would rather find a comfort zone, get used to it, not have to move and never change. However, God has set us up in an environment where change is constant and will help us grow.

This morning I read a quote from George Bernard Shaw in the book, The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch. “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man” (page 19).

The world, our organizations and our families need leaders who are not only ready and willing to confront change, but ready and willing to change the world. The progress the world needs can be found as we persistently adapt things around us to ourselves. Yes, we have to adapt in transition and change, but we can also be proactive to make change work for us.

Instead of worrying about change and how this will affect you think about how you can make change be beneficial to you and your life.

Richard Koch in The 80/20 Principle, pg. 20, quotes Joseph Ford, “God plays dice with the universe. But they´re loaded dice. And the main objective is to find out by what rules they were loaded and how we can use them for our own ends.” As a Christian leader I would add – to find out what rules they are loaded with and how we can use them for the Kingdom of God.

Our main objective is to navigate through change, and see the rules that God has put into place to see how we can use them to benefit His kingdom, our lives and the world.

In a little over a month our family is packing up everything we own, storing it for at least a year, and moving to another country. We will then have to buy things, figure out what to do about transportation, visiting family, and set up shop for one year in the new country. Talk about change – this is going to be a crazy summer. One of my kids is getting married, one of my kids just finished her first year of college, and one of our kids will be home schooled. This plus the graduations, weddings I am performing, speaking engagements, major moves and travel that we will experience.

As I look forward to this change I am nervous yet excited. Nervous because it´s going to be a crazy summer. Excited because we can proactively make this change have a greater impact for God, the world and ourselves.

What change do you have in your life this summer?

How can you make it produce fruit in you, others and the world?

 

 

 

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Three Things I Realized About Change

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I realized recently that there is something constant about change. That change happens constantly.

Let me explain. Exactly five years ago, I was in a situation that I had to make critical life decisions, very similar to where I am right now. I remember wishing for that magical dagger I can use to bring me back to certain points in my life especially during those times that I had to make a difficult decision – most especially when I made a wrong decision. Let’s just say this was my almost comical, yet fantasy-filled wishful response after watching “The Prince of Persia”, the movie me and my wife watched just before the start of the new school year five years ago. The truth is, as I was then, I am still really wishing for that dagger, simply because, after five years, nothing has changed. Due to many changes in our lives, we have to make difficult decisions right now.

In 2010, big or small, whether we wanted it or not, many changes affected us in so many ways. Like my father’s passing away unexpectedly; team members returning to their own country for good; my sister’s plan to get married and live in the US for good which will mean that my mom will live on her own; Lois, my eldest becoming a teen-ager and a high school neophyte; our rented apartment contract expiring in a couple of months.

Questions hounded me all day long and even when it is time to rest at night. Should we transfer to a new house? Where will my daughter get his secondary education? Can we still handle the ministry that we have lesser workers than before? Who should I put in-charge of our major ministries?

Honestly, I am just afraid – afraid to make a bad decision. The “what ifs” clog my mind.

What if the owner did not renew contract with us and we couldn’t find a new house to rent, where will we live? What if the person I tapped as the new ministry leader was not really capable? What if the new project we just started was not part of God’s direction for our team?

I just want to do it perfectly.

I was reminded then of God’s call for Abraham in Genesis 12 (he was still known as Abram that time). Abraham was called to leave his country and go to a land that God will show him. How difficult that change and decision must be for Abraham. It wasn’t easy to leave his hometown and go to a new place he has no knowledge of yet because God will only show him where as he goes. But the Bible didn’t mention of any dagger in Abraham’s possession. Actually he had one (the one he wanted to use when God asked Abraham to offer Isaac to Him), but he never got to use it because he had something way better than any daggers. That is his faith in His God.

During the course of his life, filled with many changes and challenges, Abraham made many mistakes. What made him succeed is that kept on moving forward, not letting the setbacks and challenges hinder him from reaching his goals.

I realized that I don’t have to go back to the past to change my mistakes.

I just have to keep moving forward. Yes, I will make mistakes (and I need to learn from them), but God assures me that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28 NIV). He will also show me His direction as I seek Him and follow Him in faith, just like when Abraham obeyed Him and left his country – He showed Abraham where to go as he went.

I realized that since change is constant, I will never be able to do it perfectly.

I will make mistakes along the way. Many times I will fall flat on my face just like what I have experienced many times in the past. The good news is God will always be there. He promised to be with us until the end of the age. He will never leave us nor forsake us. God corrects and rebukes us, but He also encourages and strengthens us so we can continue with the journey He has called us to undertake.

Changes and decisions will always be a part of our lives, but with God leading the way what else do we need. What are we afraid of? Truly, the Apostle Paul was perfectly right when he said, “If God is for us, who can be against us? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:31, 37 NIV)

For More On Change: CLICK HERE

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Change: A Thrill Ride or Deep Waters?

Take a moment and look at the following picture:

right-turn-road-sign-lake

Now, what do you think would happen if someone didn’t heed to the warning of slowing down around the turn? Yep, you got it… they could end up in “deep water”!

Have you ever ended up in deep water because you didn’t slow down when you were making an organizational change or shift? A humbling lesson I’ve been learning as a leader is that some (or perhaps most) of the people are not nearly as excited as we are when we are leading the organization toward some type of change. Because we are so excited about the change, we tend to move quickly on it. Like the kid who can’t wait for Christmas to come, we rush in “with guns blazing”. And we’re shocked when others we lead don’t share the same excitement and energy.

The problem is that we forget that a lot of people don’t like change! The other problem is that people haven’t been thinking about the change 24/7 like we have. They haven’t had the time to really process it.

I’ve spent the last year in a new ministry and have been blessed by the growth that has occurred over the course of the year. But it’s had its share of “bumpy roads” along the way. I’m a “change junkie” and find myself energized by change.  Change is good for an organization BUT… it needs to be a good change in a good way. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned about transitioning organizations (and people) toward healthy change:

#1)  Make sure you have your “DUCKS IN A ROW”

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”. If we attempt to bring changes and haven’t really thought it through, people may give some grace… the first time. If we lose credibility, we will lose the “mojo” for future change initiatives. Anticipate the questions people will have, and have the answers before they are asked.

#2)  Make sure you have RELATIONAL “BUY IN”

Have you built the necessary relational equity to move forward? As the old saying goes “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. Trust is a huge component if people are going to step out of their comfort zone and embrace change. Also, anticipate those who will resist and connect with them privately before you take it public.

#3)  Make sure they see the VISION behind the change

Helping people see the bigger picture will make the sacrifice and discomfort that change can bring worth embracing. It can be done in various ways. Be creative. Don’t just tell them. Share some stories from other people. Use metaphors and visuals that keeps the vision for change a motivating factor for them as the initial excitement wears off.

#4)  Make sure it’s the RIGHT SEASON for change

Good ideas may come at a bad time. The motto is true, “timing is everything”. Also, too many changes too quickly together may not be wise. We need to learn to pace ourselves and give people a chance to “come up for air” and breathe a bit.

Change is good. Every organization will experience change if it is to grow and thrive. Every leader needs to be an agent of change. BUT, let’s make sure we are slowing down around those turns. It can be a thrill ride or it can end up in deep waters. Which will it be for you?

For More On Change, CLICK HERE

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Excitement in Change

images-1Russ talked about “The Fear of Change” the other day.

There is also an excitement in change, because those updates will allow me to do something I couldn’t do before.

I like Russ’ quote from Lao Tzu, a philosopher and poet of ancient China (about 600 years before Christ) who was said to be a contemporary of Confucius and the founder of Taoism. Tzu said, Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”  

There are advantages to embracing change, not resisting it, facing it head on and learning to work with it.

The excitement of New Challenges.  Life is a series of changes, physically, emotionally and spiritually. That is a fact.  We all change and the situations around us change. Just think back to where you were a year ago.  You have changed because that is the natural course of things.  The Apostle Paul said, “The old is passed away, behold, all things become new”.  Even as you grow older and change, you enter and pass through different seasons, each one with its own excitement.  Focus on that and look expectantly for the next change. Anticipate and accept change.  Let it be something ‘new’ to you.

The excitement of Obvious Growth.  As changes come, as you pass from one situation to another, realize that growth and learning are taking place.  You are not the same as you were before.  You know more and are smarter. If fact, you can do more. Embrace the challenge of learning new things, of adjusting to new situations, of facing new problems.  That means you are alive.  It will make you a better person, a better influence, with broader experience.

The excitement of Understanding Reality.  To live is to change.  We get taller, then we get shorter.  We have hair and then we lose hair. We become leaders, then we become helpers. We parent children, then we parent adults. We are doers, then we are watchers. Each stage has its advantages and disadvantages.  Each stage has its sweet memories and its regrets. And, each stage gives you an opportunity to say, ‘been there, done that!’

The excitement of Progress.  Nothing is worse than the same old thing. We like variety in our food, in our clothing and in our lives. If things don’t change we get bored, or we get distracted by something that looks like more fun. Change allows newness in our everyday living. Expect it, look for it and welcome it.  It means you are alive.

Here’s my secret:  I have discovered that there is seldom anything you can do to stop change.  It will catch you if you run, it will roll over you is you resist.  So, spend what energy you have figuring out how to live with it.  Maybe you can delay it a bit or compromise in some way, but change always wins.  

So, let change be your friend, not your enemy.  Figure out ways to work with it and allow it to help you be a better person, a better leader.

Posted in Leadership Coaching, Personal Leadership Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

The Fear of Change

The iPhone 4I don’t know about you, but when I see the notification on my phone or computer that says “New Update Available” I panic a little bit.

It seems that these updates are coming more often now, and just about the time I get used to the way things are, there’s an update that causes things to change.

Sometimes I put it off and ignore it.

Sometimes I embrace it and do it immediately.

Sometimes I ask someone else about it to see how it went for them.

I respond differently every time.

In fact, we all respond to change in different ways, because it affects us all differently.

Some of us ignore it and hope that it will go away.

Some of us embrace it and are actually excited about what the change will bring.

Some of us want to get consensus to see if others will be happy with the change, than we step into it.

Here’s the truth about change:  It’s Coming. It’s ALWAYS Coming. I hate to tell you this, but you can’t ignore it and you can’t avoid it. It’s coming.

This is what happens when you allow fear to keep you from embracing the change:

FEAR will Paralyze you.

You’ll be stopped in your tracks, you won’t be able to breath. The fear of change, of something new, might upset you, it might cause you to freak out.

FEAR will Isolate you.

Some people have learned to adjust with the continual change that is coming. If you can’t learn to adjust, you will be left behind, you will be isolated.

FEAR will Embarrass you.

You will be asked about something that is constantly changing, and you need to be able to be informed and able to communicate how you have addressed this particular area of change.

FEAR will Discourage you.

We don’t like to be stuck. When we see things changing around us, it’s easy to get discouraged, to lose hope, to feel overwhelmed.

Here’s a little secret:  While I am sometimes very quick to embrace change, there are other times that I resist it. There are times that I don’t want anything to do with it, in fact, there are times that I fight it.  Sometimes change just comes too quickly. Sometimes the change makes things worse. Sometimes the change is really inconvenient. Sometimes I just don’t want to change!

How are you doing with the fear of change?

Think of a recent change you’ve embraced or ignored:  How did you feel through that process? How did it work out? What could you have done differently?

Don’t let the fear of change keep you from identifying and addressing the change. Figure out what your comfort level is, and don’t get stuck!

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” Lao Tzu

*For more on CHANGE

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