It's hard to see progress when you're right there in the middle

No pain, no change

As you might remember, I broke my left leg and right arm last November in a collision with one of Bambi’s errant relations. (More of that mournful tale). I’m recovering quite well, but I’ve been attending physical therapy for the last few weeks to rebuild strength and flexibility.

Naturally, I’ve started thinking about what else I can learn from the experience as I huff and strain and my mind wanders…

1) Change is always painful

I went from very little activity to targeted stretching and workouts twice a day. Putting up with the aches and pains is relatively easy as long as I keep the long-term goal in mind: I’d like to walk like a human again, not lurch around like a zombie.

Same with doing anything different professionally — it’s always uncomfortable, but you have to expect and even embrace the feeling. When you feel that burn, you know it’s working. Trying to change your internal culture? Everyone is going to get a little cranky as they push in new directions (and if they don’t, they might not be trying hard enough). Or maybe you’re just taking some classes to learn more about finance — you’ll feel that cerebrum stretch as frustration and puzzlement.

2) There’s good pain and bad pain

As my PT and OT therapists tell me over and over, you have to listen to your body. and know the difference between the ache of a deep stretch and the sharp, hot pain of overworking a tender tendon.

With any organizational change, you’ll have grumbling, frustration, and plenty of backsliding. But if your revolutionary new marketing campaign sparks widespread squabbling, mass confusion, open rebellion, or even spills over into service problems, perhaps you’ve pushed too hard, too fast. Or perhaps not everyone shares your shining vision. You might have to stop or slow down and fix the problem.

3) It’s hard to see progress when you’re right there in the middle

When you’re in the middle of fixing a big problem or making a big change, it’s hard to feel progress and it’s easy to get discouraged. The physical therapists measure my increasing strength and flexibility so we can track my progress. Same with making organizational changes — you have to decide carefully what to measure, and make realistic goals and milestones.


Brian Wringer

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