Community//

The most risky thing to do is…

...stay the same

Updating your well-worn paths of behaviour is like updating your software. It may be a painful process you want to put off, but by staying agile, nimble and flexible in your thinking and behaviour, you are protecting yourself from becoming obsolete.

A few weeks ago I was mentoring a very experienced coach, let’s call him Frank. He was trying to help a team adapt to new ways of working but struggling to help them move forward. He reported that several of the team members were rigidly holding onto the belief that ‘same as usual’ was the best approach for their practice. Frank saw that if the rigid team members held on too tight to the status quo, they would put themselves at risk of being rejected as obsolete by those more flexible.

What Frank didn’t see so easily, was the inflexibility in his own beliefs, and his strong habits of behaviour. For example, he tightly held the belief that (a) adoption of his preferred approach (Agile practice) was the only way the team would progress and (b) that each of his team colleagues had to be converted to his planned approach before he could start to help them move forward. This led to all sorts of battles of words and wills and a whole heap of frustration. If he wasn’t careful, people could start to see him as irrelevant and he would become obsolete.

As Kahneman wrote in his book Think, Fast and Slow, sometimes we are not only ‘blind to the obvious’ but we are also ‘blind to our blindness’.

  • What well-worn paths don’t you even see?
  • Are you agile in your thinking?
  • What updates are pending for your behaviours?
  • And perhaps more importantly, what checks do you have on yourself so you can spot your rigidity?

We can protect ourselves from becoming obsolete by not holding too tightly to our beliefs about being ‘right’, and making sure our behaviour stays agile. For me, I intentionally update myself by choosing the sometimes painful option of being with people or tasks that challenge my thinking and my behaviours, I keep trying to stretch my listening powers and of course, I welcome and try (!) very hard to stay open to feedback. I’d love to hear your intentional updates.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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