Hope & Change (not a political post) part 1 of 3

Mon, 07/30/2012 - 11:54pm -- Pastor Ben

Think about how hard change really is.  How many go to a restaurant and order the same thing every time?  Some don't drive anything but Ford or 

Toyota.  I read a list on a sign one time: "Great things about being a guy: one lifetime, one hairstyle." Then there is that pair of shoes that are so comfortable, but need to be thrown away because your toe is sticking through.  I've heard wives talk about throwing their husband's well-worn underwear away--and the husband was mad, it was his favorite pair. 

Change is tough.  Most don't like it.  Most don't want it.  Yet we're faced with it every day of life.

One of my favorite motivational speakers is a man named Danny Cox.  Mr. Cox was an air force test pilot turned sales manager turned motivational speaker.  Since being in the 8th grade, I've never forgotten one of the stories he told about change:  He was working at a manager of at  company where his office was top producer out of 36 offices.  One of the workers on his sales force was a man who every month, managed to earn the company $3,000.  Mr. Cox said it was eerie how close to 3,000 this guy would get--but would never exceed it.  So one month, Mr. Cox worked sided by side with the employee.  In his own words, "I did everything but move in with him.  When he went to the bathroom, I stood guard at the door."  And through that big-brother mentoring, the man made $6,000. 

Guess what the man made next month without Cox's help? 

Nothing!  Zero.  Nada.  He didn't make a dime.  And then in month three, he was back to his comfort level: $3,000.

Cox says that was when he brought the guy in for a talk in his office.  And through their conversation the man realized that he was a victim of his fear of change.  His father had never made more than $3,000.  He had never made more than $3,000.  And Cox said to the man, "So is this the pattern you're teaching your children, so they'll never be able to make more than $3,000."

The employee came up out of his chair toward the desk and said, "That's what I'm doing!  I'm teaching my children that it doesn't get any better than this..."  And from that "ah-ha" moment, the man was able to work to change the pattern of his life--not only at work, but also at home.

Danny Cox and his team call this phenomena, "repeating yesterday."  It goes something like this: "What are you going to do today?"

"I'm going to repeat yesterday."

"How did that go?"

"Not so good."

"Then why do it?"

"It's my habit."

Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  The man in Cox's story is not unique.  We do what we do because we like it that way.  So why change?

Portia Nelson writes this short, poetic autobiography that captures the essence of far to many people with regard to change:

 

I
I walk, down the street. 
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in
I am lost.... I am helpless
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

II
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again
I can't believe I am in the same place but, it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

III
I walk down the same street
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.
I still fall in.... it's a habit, my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

IV
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

V
I walk down another street.[1]

The poem points out several factors that make change so difficult:  First, the person was helpless.  This is the belief (often firmly ingrained) that I can'd do anything to change my circumstances.  I'm where I am, and there's nothing I or anyone else can do about it.  And since I can't do anything about it, there's nothing to change.

Then there's the "it's not my fault" syndrome.  I'm here because of circumstances beyond my control.  I am a victim.  And as long as it's not my fault, my behavior doesn't have to change.

The third factor in the poem was habit.  We see the hole.  We know it's there.  But guess what, I'm going to fall in anyway because it's my habit. 

These three responses are the product of our background, history, upbringing, etc.  How we were raised and taught to deal with things plays a huge role in who we become and how we cope.  The things that we learned at the earliest stages of life are always the hardest things to change and unlearn, and our early conceptions continue to be a part of life and influence us, even if we aren't actively aware of it. 

The next part in this series will identify the hole up ahead, and prepare us to make a change in planning for it.  Part 3 in this series will deal with the active practice of change.  Winston Churchill said, "There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction."

 

--
[1] Poem by Portia Nelson in an article by Barry Greenwald entitled "What Makes Change so Difficult", found on the web at: http://www.uic.edu/orgs/convening/resistan.htm