The first step is always the hardest, isn't it. We all know this is true. Heard it a million times before. Stuff like first things first. Put one foot in front of the other. If there are 12 steps, you've got to start at Step One, it's the biggest step in the whole process. It's pretty clear and pretty simple. And yet, when we are standing there, staring into the abyss of the unknown future, our lives hanging out over the precipice, do we really get it? I mean, do we really believe that that first step will change everything?
Probably not. My guess is that the only thing we're thinking about when faced with Step One into a new frontier is how we can avoid taking it. How we can put out the roadblocks and the obstacles and the excuses and the reasons why none of it is going to work. Am I right?
In most cases, the main obstacle to taking the first step is plainly and simply RESISTANCE, or what I like to call my 'Lizard Brain' (Liz for short). Yes, my Liz is very crafty and does her utmost to remain as immobile as possible, at all times and at all costs. We all have some version of Liz in our heads. Telling us to put off till tomorrow what ought to be done today. Convincing us to sleep for just 15 minutes longer, because sleep is certainly more important than working out. Persuading us that it's really no big deal if we eat that second helping of pasta, we had an active day, after all (I guess it's pretty clear what my Liz has been working on lately, lol). Resisting all change, all the time, both good and bad.
Both good and bad?? Oh yes. Because change comes in all shapes and sizes, appearances and disguises.
Bad change goes something like this: You lost your job and you have to deal with the situation, but Liz puts you straight into some form of denial or anger in order to protect your ego and emotions.
Good change is when you are offered a huge promotion at work but the conditions include moving your entire family to a foreign country for three years where you don't know a single soul, don't speak the language, your kids have to attend a new school and your spouse has no job prospects. Liz puts you straight into some form of denial or anger to protect your ego and emotions.
Funny how similar that sounds, right?
Everyone resists change to some degree or another. It's totally natural and the reasons are numerous:
- Surprises are really only fun when they involve the song, 'Happy Birthday' or the phrase, "You've just won a million dollars!" - Losing control is really only fun when you're on an actual a rollercoaster. - Losing face is never fun. - Change that involves more work? Not fun. - And for less money?? DEFINITELY not fun. - Facing the unknown is also not a big favorite of most people I know. This is why we visit fortune tellers! =) - Negative self-talk Nellie (you KNOW who I'm talking about) will side with Liz every time. EVERY time. They are BFFs.
So how do we deal with all of this resistance? How do we overcome Liz's powerful influence over our resolve??
One way to get started is to remember what taking that first step actually feels like. Not that original first step when we learned how to walk as toddlers (I can't remember mine, can you??)! But think back to a recent situation in which you had to take a leap of faith and make that first move. It's kind of like changing the lightbulb in a ceiling lamp. The bulb blows and we feel the loss of light for a few minutes.
Scene One goes like this: We get annoyed about the sudden darkness in the room. Think about getting out the step ladder to change it. Rummage around in the closet for a spare bulb. Nothing. *Sigh* Berate ourselves for not buying bulbs on the last grocery run (that's Nellie for you). Liz steps in and says, "No worries, we can always change that tomorrow." Nellie smirks annoyingly. And the lamp remains dark for, oh, maybe a week. Maybe two. Am I right?? You know I'm right.
Scene Two goes like this: We realize the darkness will only hold us back (from reading, studying, cooking, etc.). Improvise on the lack of new bulb by pulling one out of a lamp that isn't as centrally located. Get out the step ladder. Change the bulb already. Done.
Taking that first step is the key! Check this: What's the first step in Scene One? Getting annoyed about the current situation. In Scene Two? Realizing the current situation will hold us back. Wow! What a difference a simple shift in attitude can make.
I am here to tell you that Scene Two is the Situation of Champions. Why? Because Scene Two demonstrates RESILIENCE. Resilient people demonstrate five basic traits:
1) Positivity - Life is a bowl of cherries, failure is opportunity. Fake it till you make it. 2) Focus - Have goals, aims, a vision of what you want to achieve. Never lose sight. 3) Flexibility - When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. Improvise! 4) Organization - List makers unite! Make a plan. Stick to it. 5) Initiative - Face your fears head on before they bite you in the a$$.
Resilience is similar to ELASTICITY. Both have to do with the ability to cope.
Admittedly, I don't always demonstrate these myself (I told you I'm not perfect) but I certainly aspire to do so. And I definitely take inspiration from the people who put those traits out there whenever change comes knocking. Think about the people you admire in your workplace, in your industry, in your family, in your circle of friends. Chances are, those people have resilience. They exercise their elasticity. They don't let change knock them down.
I am here to tell you that you can absolutely be one of those people.