(A Change Management Article)
Before injuries, surgery, and to be truthful, before bad habits, I ran pretty fast. One weekend I had the opportunity on the coast of Florida to go running during a hurricane. Looking back, it might not have been the smartest thing I ever did, but those days, I was very dedicated to my running, hence my story.
I had been running for about ten miles and quite literally flying. It had to be the absolute fastest I had ever run in my life. I had a hurricane force wind at my back and the sheer freedom of the run was truly exhilarating. The world had ceased to exist; the volume of the wind had tuned everything out, leaving just the road, my shoes, and me. I could have run forever.
Those of you who are runners, recognize the “but” coming. But, my course was an out and back course. Meaning my destination was ten miles behind me into a hurricane force headwind. When the wind was at my back, I had not given much thought to what would happen with a need to change direction.
No sooner had I turned around to retrace my steps, than did I realize the difficult task in front of me. Not wanting to lose time, I kept to my normal pace, knowing the wind would take a toll on the way back just as it had given me an advantage on the way out.
For the first several miles my plan worked well. Though substantially slower than before, I was still making great time. Then the wind strengthened again, and every time both of my feet came off the pavement, I would literally be blown backwards. Now, not only did I have to retrace the miles of my journey out, but now I also had to retrace steps I had just taken moments before. And to make matters even worse, it started snowing; in Florida!
I had a choice. I could pursue my miracle training time and fail, I could give up, or I could modify my plan. As it turned out, the hurricane ruled out the first choice, I wasn’t going to give up, and not going forward was not an option. So the best alternative was to slow my pace to allow me to ensure my front foot was meeting the pavement just as my rear foot was lifting off. In this way, I always had contact with the ground and the wind in my face had less control over me. By slowing down, I actually sped up.
Sometimes in our personal, professional, and organizational transformations the right pace of change is slower than the desired pace of change. We push so hard to accomplish the desired goal only to get blown backwards by a hurricane force wind of resistance. When a little more self-awareness and a gentle acknowledgement of the forces we are facing may be significantly more effective in making forward progress, than continually trying to force our way through a hurricane.
I was reminded of this memory as I watched Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma ravage the States of Texas and Florida. And as family secured anything that could become flying missiles and later hunkered down without power, worried about which part of the house was the safest from a tree fall.
To those convoys of National Guard, electrical line men and women, tree surgeons, EMTs, first responders, and relief agencies who left their families and ran into the hurricane winds to be there for those in need, my inadequate thank you. For those who remained behind during the evacuations, thank you. And finally, thank you to those faith volunteers who set up feeding stations in the Georgia rest stops to feed the hurricane evacuees and offer everyone a smile.
© 2018 Barry Robbins, Silver Bear Solutions
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Barry Robbins is an IT Executive with a strong record of success in transforming IT organizations by envisioning, developing, and implementing IT business solutions.