The point of last week’s LifeTrek Provision, Mind your Body, was simply this: if you’re going to make a change, make sure it’s good for you. Minding your body is one way to discern your inner wisdom in order to move in the right direction. The point of this week’s LifeTrek Provision, Muster your Reserves, is to recognize that all the discernment in the world may be for naught if we don’t build up and identify sufficient reserves to carry us through the change process itself.
Change is difficult. Some would even argue that real change is impossible. We are destined to be who we are, they say, through some curious combination of nature, nurture, and nationality. Coaches take exception to such determinism. We’ve simply experienced and witnessed too many real changes, sometimes in the twinkling of an eye, to accept such a stagnant view of human potentiality.
But for all the changes we’ve seen, we’ve seen even more people who do not change, who do not manage to climb out of their old familiar ruts. It’s the old saw: “Better the devil we know, than the devil we don’t know.” Without adequate reserves to give them a sense of security, people remain stuck in unhealthy situations, patterns, and addictions. People operate out of fear rather than courage, because they do not have the reserves to develop a tolerable, worst-case contingency plan.
That is a tragic situation leading nowhere. Other animals may be creatures of circumstance but human beings can be creatures of confidence, courage, and control. It has been said that what makes humans unique is our ability to learn from the mistakes of others. Both aspects are important. The ability to learn, to change, to grow, as well as the ability assimilate knowledge which goes beyond the limits of our own experience. How do you know that the earth goes around the sun? Everything about your experience contradicts that statement. And yet we believe it to be true.
People who’ve experienced dramatic life changes report on the importance of reserves. Reserves of money, energy, resources, and people who give them the freedom and the confidence to try new things • to boldly go where they’ve never gone before. Without reserves, the pressure of the next car or mortgage payment interferes with our ability to change. Instead of proactively setting a course, we reactively take the first thing that comes along.
Minding your body is a way to discern the direction your life should go. Mustering your reserves is a way to develop the courage to go there. Reserves can take many forms, and they are all important. Consider the following:
- Money. Do you have enough money to get through 3, 6, or 12 months without any income? If you haven’t structured your life to include regular savings, the answer is probably no and your tolerance for change will probably be low. In that case, become creative in your identification of financial resources. Money is not always sitting in your bank account. It can also be sitting in the bank accounts of family, friends, and foundations, in home equity, in pension funds, or in other unlikely places. Many people go to school in order to make a change on the basis of grants and loans. Others find a safety net among family and friends. Still others convert fixed or future assets into liquid assets. Whatever the technique, mustering your financial reserves can be easier than you think.
- Energy. Do you have enough energy to contemplate making a change? The conservation of energy requires self-discipline in our busy-busy, hurry-hurry world. The world will not conserve energy for you. It is something you have to do for yourself. Energy flows in many directions. Identify the things that give you energy, rather than take energy, and start making time for the energy-givers on a regular basis.
- People. Do you have enough people to consult and carry you through a change? Most people need a few special friends or family members who can walk with them along the journey. Coaches can be a source of professional assistance. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and someone to go along. Danger loves company, and change can be a dangerous proposition indeed. Find the people who will support you in the change you want to make, then recruit them to stand by you no matter what.
If you want make a change that truly fits who you are, muster your reserves. Have something to fall back on. Then jump, like a trapeze artist, confidently into the air!
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May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
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