Breaking Through Obstacles

One of the greatest impediments I’ve observed to human change and growth is holding onto outdated beliefs, thinking, and behaviors.

Consider a time when you seriously wanted to address a personal challenge.  Perhaps you set your sites on the outcome you wanted to achieve, you put a new plan in place, and you worked feverishly on all the steps in the new plan.  Yet, in the end, the results were disappointing, and the results didn’t last.  You may have even taken this one step further and chastised yourself by saying things like “I’m a failure,” “I knew this wouldn’t work,” “This is futile” – further eroding your self-esteem and personal motivation.

Human change –the kind that’s transformational and allows us to adapt at the moment – requires a systemic approach just like we do in organizational change.  It’s not enough to merely address what we know; we need to address how we know something.  Because we know things on multiple levels (conscious and unconscious), a systemic approach takes us into those deeper layers of how we know.

I have found the process of addressing how we know something to be challenging and not for the faint of heart.  This deeper level of self-awareness often needs to be reflected in us through our actions.  We need to be held accountable for the relationship between our beliefs and our behavior.  And in this powerful reflection, a new perspective can be gained.

This process of confronting our illusions – the experience of realizing something we thought to be true or competency that we thought was our most valued skill – takes courage.

At this intersection of moving into the unknown, I have seen clients make the most significant breakthroughs, particularly when a coach or mentor supports them.  The lure of the comfort zone is compelling, and without support (and sometimes even with), we can retreat to the comfort zone, determined to work harder than ever on the thing that just isn’t working.

I go back to the quote by Anatole France “All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.

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