Lights, Camera, Action!

2012 by Garza

A friend who I was talking with about leadership coaching practice remarked, “When you get right down to it, people don’t really change.” On behalf of coaches and proponents of human potential everywhere, I begged to differ with my friend. But his statement invites us to think about just what is it that brings about positive change.

Lots of things have to happen for positive, long-lasting change to occur. Today, though, I’m thinking about one, and perhaps the most important: Action.

We all know the power of inertia. It’s a powerful force. But we can break it, by taking even the smallest of steps. And when we do, good things can happen. 

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Germany’s Shakespeare) is often credited with the following, but it was actually the 20th century writer and mountain climber, W.H. Murray, who wrote these words:

Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would not otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man would have dreamed would come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Begin it now.” [The Scottish Himalayan Expedition (1951)]

Whether you take to heart Murray’s invocation of providence, or you attribute to other forces the “whole stream of events” that follow a commitment to action, that first step is crucial. It doesn’t have to be a big step. A little one will do, if it’s followed by another, and then another. You may find in these steps momentum that will carry you through the door to what’s next.

Maybe the door you wish to open requires a conversation with a colleague who stands between you and positive change. What small step could you could take that might lead to another small step, and then another, until the momentum of your actions propels you into that conversation? What if you took 15 minutes to outline what you would like to accomplish in that conversation? You’ll begin to sense the shift in momentum. Then get yourself on your colleague’s calendar. You’ll feel the breakdown in the inertia that has kept you from moving forward. Just a couple of small steps, and you will find yourself past the point of no return. Of course, you will spend more time and take other actions preparing for that conversation, but often it is the small steps that break the force of inertia and create momentum for positive change.

Try taking a few small small steps, use the momentum they supply, and see what happens!

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