Small steps along the journey of change

Yesterday I chatted to a delightful person, Carolyn, about some copywriting work she was doing for me. She asked me a series of questions about my business, what I stood for, my purpose etc.

It was a terrific conversation and she asked me some very good questions. I told her that my purpose in life was to grow. We talked about my passion for helping individuals and teams to make progress on change that truly matters to them.
As we were about to conclude the interview I asked her whether she was open to a question from me. Given our conversation about my work she was curious. I asked her what her growth challenge was. It was fair to say that she initially played around the outside in terms of her response. Eventually we were able to highlight a limiting belief about the discomfort of putting herself out there. Her aspiration or change that truly matters to her is to feel comfortable about ‘selling’ her services, ideas and content but felt that she wasn’t, in her mind, an ‘expert’ and besides who would listen to her. There was real vulnerability and self awareness in her response.

This is common for many of us who want to make progress on change that matters. We are held back by what Robert Kegan refers to as the big assumption or limiting belief. I want to make progress on A but underneath I am more committed to B.

In Carolyn’s case she was committed to increasing her public profile and ’selling’ her ideas and content but deep down she was committed to making herself small and low profile. This is her way of playing safe.

We chatted about the role of experimentation to make progress on her aspirations. What could be a small, safe to learn experiment that would nudge her in the right direction. That was the conclusion of our conversation and I didn’t think of it anymore.

Last night as I scanned my LinkedIn feed I noticed that Carolyn had posted an authentic and vulnerable post about her profession and how learning can take many guises. I felt a sense of delight and here’s why. Carolyn experimented by writing an article that put herself out there. It was safe to learn from, doable (she did it within hours of our conversation) and it moved her forward on her direction towards feeling comfortable about selling herself. She has made an initial step and that’s what change is. Making continuous steps that build on each other towards a desired direction.

On a side note, what impacted my decision to engage Carolyn was that her writing style conveyed vulnerability and authenticity. To me this was all the ‘expertise’ I needed. Don’t get me wrong, Carolyn is very much the expert but the challenge is for many of us, including myself, is owning it.

So what is change that truly matters to you and are you skilfully avoiding it. Think about running an small experiment that nudges you in the right direction. Don’t be too attached to the outcome just simply focus on the learning.

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