Tag Archive | change

Firing the inner editor

Ok, I confess. I need to walk the talk. I listen to the inner editor.

As a former teacher, I would tell my writing students to get all of their ideas down on paper first. Tell the story and then go back, re-read and revise as necessary. I would tell them to keep going, and then edit, but I failed to warn them about the inner editor.

He’s the one inside your head who makes you go back and read the sentence you just wrote. He says, “Something’s not right. Try again.” Once you follow his counsel, however, it sets other words in motion and the whole paragraph requires change in order to realign your thoughts. This rewriting takes time and prevents you from completing your article, chapter or whatever piece you’re working on. It can become a vicious cycle.

I’d like to fire the inner editor and send him packing. In fact, I’ve done that several times, but he must sneak in the back door because before I realize it, he’s returned and set up housekeeping … again. My head knows that polished sentences will come during the editing process and can be readjusted as necessary, but the inner editor too often drowns out that logic.

One thing that helps is having some accountability. When length of the piece is an issue or a nebulous deadline exists, reporting to a trusted friend (especially one who has known the inner editor) makes a difference.

If you’ve done battle with the inner editor, tell me how you won the war.

Spring for change

Do you get excited about making a change in your life only to become discouraged because the results don’t come fast enough? Whether you’re starting a new business, ramping up an old one, writing a first-time novel or trying to lose weight, it can be easy to get discouraged when the transformation to success seems negligible or slow in coming. (Feel free to add your own desired changes. I know I’m not alone in this.) 

If you live in an area where you experience the cold of winter, you know how excited you get about the tiny changes that bring spring. Even a blade of grass that turns from its brown winter coat to brilliant green shouts to all who notice that spring is definitely on the way. One sign provokes a search for additional ones like buds popping up on trees, perennials poking their way through the hard earth, and of course, birds singing from high branches. Each day is part of the transition, whether we see something happening or not, yet you relish the fact spring is coming. 

Why is it then that we humans become so discouraged when we don’t see what we want overnight? If we are consistent in following the right paths, won’t we see results? Perhaps I should take heart in the lesson God teaches from nature. If it takes Him days, weeks or months to complete the process, who am I to give up so early when I don’t see the finished product? 

The next time I get down about my slower-than-desired progress, I’m going to remember the time element involved in spring. Then I’m going to spring for change … in me.

What’s the use?

If you’ve had the opportunity to visit a botanical garden like Longwood Gardens in the outskirts of Philadelphia, you know firsthand about the fantastic displays both indoors and out. It is an awesome experience. You make your way through the various buildings and flora-lined walkways, but as hard as you try, you just can’t take it all in on one visit. 

Can you imagine how many people and how much effort goes into making each garden bloom on cue according to the seasons? (You don’t grow poinsettias in April or daffodils in October.)  They do all of this while maintaining the grounds and facility in readiness for a vast number of tourists seven days a week. Think, too, about the challenges these horticultural wizards face between the elements of time and weather alone. It goes without saying they tackle other obstacles on a daily basis. Yet they achieve outstanding results because they continually focus on the plan. To the outside world, it looks easy. 

As we go through various seasons in our lives, we, like Longwood Gardens, must adjust to new expectations. At times, this requires a total makeover. All of this reinvention requires prayer, organization, time and action in order for a successful change to take place while life goes on and business continues as usual. Some days you can remain on task and schedule, while on others it seems you meet obstacles at every turn. When this happens, return to the plan (or make one if you started off without one), refocus, make adjustments as necessary and move forward.    

Doing this may be difficult. You could find a host of people and situations to blame or throw your hands in the air crying, “What’s the use,” but that won’t get you Longwood results.

Continuous Improvement Required

The only thing that does not change is God.  He’s the same yesterday, today and forever. Everything else – seasons, time, people, cultures, clothes, etc. – require change and that’s a good thing, but does it ever stop?

I get it. The business world must continually improve, reinvent and adjust itself because the marketplace and technology are changing so fast they have to keep up to compete. Employers expect their staff to do the same or lose their jobs. Even if you’re one who’s on the unemployment role, you understand these principles and start your reinvention process in order to find a new way to add value and land a job. The truth is, you never reach a point where the improvement process is no longer necessary. 

Few would argue that keeping up with technology, communication and industry trends enhances your capabilities, yet the reason for doing it all is often lacking. The fact is many workers travel focused career paths only to provide the pay and perks they desire. Although climbing the corporate ladder presents its own challenges and rewards, some reach the top and wonder what it was all about. There is a higher purpose for it all, but you could miss it if you’re not looking. 

I figure why wait until you get to the end to ask the hard questions, so I’m asking them of myself now.  To add emphasis, I’m putting them in the present progressive tense.   

  • How am I adding value today?
  • How am I making a positive difference today?
  • How am I making my work count today? 

If I can answer these questions truthfully each day, I should begin to see the direction of my life.  If I discover gaps or inconsistencies, I know I’ve got some work to do. The good news is as long as we have breath, we can change. The best part is if I choose the road of continuous improvement, I might actually change the world or at least the part where I live.

Want to join me?

4 S’s Tell It All

What do you do?

This question offers the perfect opening for you to provide a 30 second response that could open or close the doors of your future. Are you looking for a new job, a business supporter, a product sale or a change? Believe it or not, your answer is not all about you. Zig Ziglar says it best: “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”  

Often referred to as the elevator speech, the term evolved because you really have only a short time – similar to the time it takes to travel between floors – to engage the person with your message. Within 15 to 30 seconds, your questioner will determine whether or not they want to hear more. Your response will, of course, be truthful and deal with your background, experience and goals, but the key is to determine how your chance to share can be of benefit or add value to either the listener or someone in their network. 

Practice in front of the mirror so you’ll be comfortable enough with your message to be able to customize it on the fly. Try these 4 S’ to tell it all: 

  • Start with the benefit you provide
  • Sandwich your capabilities and background around this benefit
  • Show how your strengths and goals add value
  • Stop talking and begin listening 

Although you may be nervous to share your information, don’t strive for perfection. (More on technique and content later.) Keep in mind it’s more about matching your desires with theirs. Smile and do the best you can, but more importantly, pay attention to what they’re saying with their eyes and body language as well as with their words. 

Even if you’re not trying to land a new job, etc., it’s good to have an elevator speech ready. Who knows, you might just make a new friend. 

So tell me, what do you do?

Is once begun really half done?

As a child, I loved Aesop’s fable about the tortoise and the hare.  Being athletically challenged, I could rarely identify with the hare but delighted in the knowledge of the slow and steady turtle winning the event. Although Aesop did not include it in the text, some illustrators depict a crowd of onlookers cheering the tortoise on as he painstakingly took each step. Though the moral encourages us to get into the race and persevere to the end, it begs the question is once begun really half done? (It certainly did not work out that way for the hare.) 

Many may attribute the turtle’s success to his commitment, focus and determination alone. I think the affirmation of the crowd also played a major role to spur him on when he became discouraged by his opponent’s quick start, when his racing form was lacking or harmful or when weariness may have precipitated thoughts to quit. 

The tortoise and the hare appear to be participating in a one-time event. Yet throughout our lives, we humans are called upon to make minor adjustments as well as drastic changes as circumstances and relationships fluctuate. Studies show that such changes don’t occur over night. It takes time to develop new habits and create new patterns in the brain.

As one traveling the road of reinvention, I am greatly encouraged when others share their experience and insights with me.  I appreciate their challenges and support.  Having a mentor, accountability partner or good friend moves you forward more quickly than if you were going it alone. I find that spending time in the Bible and prayer provides continuous inspiration from my Creator and empowers me to go in the right direction. In addition, I seek out people who will ask me the hard questions about my progress and encourage me to get up again when I struggle or fall. 

If you don’t yet have someone like that who can encourage you as you begin your newest challenge, count me in as your head cheerleader, and go for it!

Does anyone like change?

I think the only people who really enjoy change are those impacted purely by the results of it.  

For example, think about all of the effort that goes into preparing for a new addition to the family. Before Junior even arrives, you’ve made a huge financial investment. Excluding any medical considerations, a new baby requires a massive amount of equipment, bedding and clothes.  We’re not even talking diapers yet. In addition, adjustments need to be made for meals, sleeping (or the lack thereof) and yes, now we’re talking diapers.  At this point however, the new arrival could care less. He arrives on the scene and waits for his needs to be met.  He’s not the least concerned about the changes made on his behalf.  He’s only interested in the results. 

If we’re honest, we understand that change is not only good, but also necessary. If Junior remained in diapers until age 21, well you get my drift. The problem with change is that it makes demands on your life and moves you out of your comfort zone. For instance: 

  • The weight I want to lose will not come off without serious attention to diet and exercise.
  • The skills I need to move forward won’t come without time applied to reading, practice and some self-reinvention.
  • The entrepreneurial ideas I’d like to see succeed will not materialize without some risk and a lot of hard work.  

I may not always enjoy the process of change, yet perseverance will, more often than not, obtain the results I desire. Does this also mean the sooner I start, the closer I am to enjoying the final product and hence, learning to like change?