Quotes that May Change Your Life – week two

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“Don’t sell the solution until you’ve sold the problem.” G. K. Chesterton

One of the major obstacles to successfully managing change in an organization is presenting a change without explaining why it is necessary. William Bridges in his book Managing Transitions, uses the example of a marathon race to illustrate what frequently happens in corporations.

In a major marathon, as many of 20,000 runners are lined up, not in a straight line as they might be for a 100 meter sprint at the Olympics, but rather as seeded according to best times. At the front of the line you have the folks who might be called “professional marathoners”. They are frequently sponsored by an athletics company and they spend most of their time training for or running in marathons. They are in the race to win and hopefully set a new record.

Following close on their heels are the very good club runners who spend weekends (and weekdays for that matter) running around the countryside, and hope to both better their time and possibly be good enough to earn a spot on their country’s Olympic squad. And so on – runners are allotted a spot and number according to their ability, until finally, half a kilometer back, you have the folks who are in it for a T-shirt.

The gun goes, and the skinny little folks at the front of the race take off like a bat out of hell, (so that they don’t get run over by the 19.800 people coming behind them) and pound their way over the course, finishing up some two and a bit hours later, scarcely out of breath, and ask their buddies which marathon they are going to next.

Twelve hours later, just before they close the course down, the last weary participants stagger over the finish line into the arms of families and friends, amazed they are still alive, and vow that they will never attempt anything again that is so foolish.

Bridges suggest that this is reflective of what goes on in companies. The senior managers are the “professionals” – they discuss the changes that have to be made, do the research, spend hours in discussion, arguments, and finally come up with a plan. They present the plan to everyone else, and then wonder why no one is keeping up to them? As soon as they have finalized their plan, they are ready to go, but when they look behind, they can’t see any of the amateurs in the race. Where the hell are they? Actually, they’re a kilometer or so back.

“If you don’t know ‘why’, then there isn’t a ‘how’ that will make sense”. Dr. Pat

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“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will”. Suzy Kassem

How often have we started something only to begin to think that the task is beyond us, that we could never do it well enough, that others will think it trite or useless or foolish? Doubt often keeps us from even beginning while at least failure implies that we finished even if the final product was found wanting in some aspect. That is why, I believe, that one of the greatest gifts we can give to another is to believe in them, mentor them, develop their skills and help them develop a strong sense that they can accomplish what they set out to do.

How many of you took music lessons when you were a kid? And how many of you still play today? Did you ever wonder how good you might be if you had kept on practicing over the past 20 or 30 years? The practice stopped and the dream died.

Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, (and others, notably Daniel Levine -“The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert—in anything”) have suggested that in order to become a recognized expert, an elite anything, a phenom, requires about 10,000 hours of practice. But read that carefully – they are describing someone who is world class. Unfortunately many of us have fallen prey to an insidious belief that if we can’t be the best then we aren’t going to do it at all.

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“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Be sufficiently brave to change your mental approach. Instead of offering the excuse, “I don’t have time”, think to yourself, “I don’t choose to do this. It is not a priority”. It’s a question of whom or what you want to control your life – you or fate.

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