I don’t know about you, but there’s a lot that’s making me feel uncomfortable at the moment.
Some of that is what is happening in the world; growing forces that seem intent on bringing people into conflict, weird weather, a teenage girl called Greta naming simple truths in stark terms, walking past homeless people thinking ‘There but for the grace of God…’.
And all that matched by discomfort on the inside; am I doing enough (or too much)? How do I decide when to stand up and speak, and when to sit down and let things unfold? How do I align what I care about and the work I do and how I live? Will my words and actions trigger concern, defensiveness, anger that will be thrown back at me? A lot of the changes facing us will require us to acknowledge that we’ve stood by for too long, and as well as spurring us to action, that can trigger guilt and shame within us. We can each have different ways of handling that. Dealing with emotional pain by wanting others to hurt as we are hurting is common. Hurt people hurt others. Change is easily seen as a criticism of ‘what is’, whether it is meant to or not.
I’m tending towards action. But it’s not straightforward. I notice I’m asking others to be with me, with support, advice or sometimes simply patience as I adapt.
I don’t think I am alone. I’m noticing more and more people in top teams speaking more openly about what they care about, what matters to them and how they want their work and organisation to shift to being an active force for good. It has to. By definition our current unsustainable practices are, well, unsustainable. Change is inevitable. It’s just a question of what, when and who. Being the one to catalyse change carries risks. But whilst doing nothing often seems safer in the short term, it’s far riskier in the long term. Indeed we may be reaching a tipping point very soon; that if you are not seen to be speaking out you may be seen to be left out.
We all need to face the uncomfortable. It’s where change happens. It’s where the growth is. It can be the edge where you know you’re really alive. It’s where you shift direction from what may have served you well so far, to what’s needed to get you ‘there’.
We wrote The Little Book of Making Big Change Happen for people who often only have a few moments to spare. It helps them and their team get things done by sharing simple, powerful ideas and asking questions that generate really useful thoughts and action.
Here’s the page on Facing the Uncomfortable. I hope you find it useful…
Facing the Uncomfortable
Do you have a culture in your team and organisation where you face the uncomfortable?
All organisations that sustain success or make big change happen are able to do this.
This is often where opportunities lie. It is certainly where you can avert risks.
In a world of rapid change and complexity, few organisations can stay comfortable for long.
Sooner or later, you will have to face some uncomfortable questions.
What are the questions that won’t go away, that keep you awake, but that you may not be facing?
How could you start to face the uncomfortable? And then hold people’s attention there until together, you find a way forward?
If you like this passage, The Little Book of Making Big Change Happen is available in all the usual places.