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365 Ways to Get Results: Day #53: Get Back the Fire in the Belly

With life comes change. It’s a fact. You either sink, swim with the tide, or worse yet take a really long time to sink so that you get the prolonged benefit of having lost even more time, money, respect, freedom, self-esteem an open heart, and results.

Every business will go through a transition at some point in order to thrive. That transition may be a new CEO, a merger, a reduction in force, a new manager, a new operational excellence model, an acquisition, a new bank, new board members, new policies, change in benefits, short term losses for long term gains and more. All of these affect the culture of your organization. It is human nature to repel change because with it comes risk. If the talent in your organization is in “fear mode” they are not in “productive mode.” And pretty soon, the change you made for the long term good of the organization has now become a ticking time bomb of personal agendas, bureaucracy, politics, long hours, and short term focus.

Liken this to your personal life. Think about the transitions that you have experienced – a new job, loss of a loved one, divorce, a move, new school, new spouse, health challenges, losing a job, etc.. What was your biggest fear in that transition? I suspect it had something to do with fear of the unknown and expecting the worst – failure, abandonment, rejection, pain. The devil we know is far better than the devil we don’t – a really toxic way of directing yourself through a transition. But avoidance is human nature when we hold fear as a primary consideration. So how do you move fear aside before it grabs the wheel?

Get Back the Fire in the Belly

You’ll need a pencil and small piece of paper for this exercise. Answers should be short and to the point. This drill is for individuals going through a transition as well as leaders who are coaching teams though change. If you are a leader of an organization do the exercise for yourself first. Then coach your team through it by asking them open ended question around these themes.

1.) First you have to know what you fear. Do you fear that you will fail? Lose the confidence of your team? Be rejected by a loved one? Become poor? Suffer abandonment? Define the fear and be specific about it. Whatever you fear – know that your fear is a part of YOU that is trying to protect you from great pain. So if left untamed fear will unleash anxiety (which is not fear but a perceived fear) to take up space in your head playing the broken record of “You will fail,” “You will be poor,” “You’ll be alone,” or “You’ll never hit your goals,” thus paralyzing you from moving forward. Lethal. Know specifically what you fear. Write it down.

2.) Mourn precisely what you are letting go of. Very important. People guilt about the past and worry about the future – both useless emotions. During a period of change, that translates to people wishing they could have: been more supportive, worked harder, been more sensitive, and planned better which stifles them from now reaching to: be open to new opportunities, network with new people, learn new skills, keep an open heart, and set new goals. Allow yourself to mourn the steadiness and people of the past or you will start to mourn the change coming in the future which will surely bring your progress to a screeching halt. Mourn the people you will lose touch with as a result of this change. Mourn the loss of familiarity with predictable routines. Mourn the temporary loss of financial security. Mourn the absence of the wonderful times you had with the person you loved. It was good. Remember how good that felt. Get angry about it. Be sad. Question it. Feel the pain and rejection. Write down 1) specifically what you are mourning and 2) how it makes you feel.

3.) Who would you or your team be without the sadness, guilt, remorse, fear, anger, denial, rejection and other negative anxieties? Even if you have not already let go of the intolerable sentiments of the situation and totally processed through your anguish over an imposing change, imagine what you would be doing if a magic carpet just swept into your life and lifted you out of that gutter to your business or personal paradise. What would it smell like there? What would you hear there? What would you touch there? Who would be there with you? What would be going on there? What new things would you be realizing there? Write down your answers.

4.) Finally, what one thing will you do to remind yourself or your team of who you are in number 3? Does that mean you create a vision board for yourself or your team? (There are instructions on how to do this on the “Articles” page of my web site at http://www.startingovernow.com.) What icon or memento can you place in a highly visible place to remind your team of your vision – a stuffed giraffe to signify sticking your neck out or a picture of a leader you admire? What can you resurrect that inspired you in the past? Is there something that you need to retire, take down or eliminate to clear the air for a fresh perspective? Can your team create that one unique, knock-em-dead logo or slogan that sums up the new energy of this opportunity?

The “fire in the belly” that you or your organization craves to be fulfilled and productive will come from knowing specifically what you fear, accepting it and letting it go, envisioning who you are without it, and taking steps to get there. Start now!

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Mary Lee Gannon is the president of StartingOverNow.com – Leading Productivity Solutions for People and Organizations. With more than 16 years of experience as a CEO of organizations with up to $26 million in assets, Mary Lee consults with businesses on strategy. She is a graduate of The Duquesne University Professional Coaching Program and an alumnus of the 2010 Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital Coaching in Medicine & Leadership Conference. Her personal urnaround came as a stay-at-home mother with four children under seven-years-old who endured a divorce that took she and the children from the country club life to public assistance from where she earned success to support her family. Services include: Workshops, Meeting Facilitation, Coaching, Webinars, Speaking and Management Consulting. Areas of Specialty: Strategic Planning / Board Development / Healthcare / Public Relations / Goal Setting / Meeting Facilitation / Training / Leadership / Time Management / Life/Career Transition. Her book “Starting Over – 25 Rules for When You’ve Bottomed Out” is available in bookstores or at Amazon. Get her FREE ebook – “Grow Productivity – A Leader’s Toolbox” on her web site at www.StartingOverNow.com.