The news is thick with non-news about starlets who get arrested for DUI right after leaving rehab or check in an out of rehab as often as we go to our local grocery store. I don't want to weigh in on specific examples or people, but this - and something occurring in my own life - reminds me of how hard it is to change.
We are so resilient and strong and this makes the challenge of change more difficult. Dissonance is a powerful tool for change but many of us can handle a lot of dissonance without batting an eyelash. It takes a big metaphorical slap upside the head to make any difference at all.
What if the slap does not come and we do not change?
That's when we start doing stupid stuff, I think. Our mind and body is reaching out in ways that are not logical and often not effective.
Yesterday, a guy called in a fake bomb scare at the Seattle airport because he was late to his plane and wanted it to turn around. The result was a big mess at the airport and he is facing possible felony charges. There was an honest moment where his brain told him this was a logical thing to do. Amazing, isn't it?
For many of us, the damage is done a little bit each day - it accumulates and strengthens with time. This is the butterfly effect going the wrong way.
Breakthroughs occur out there - in conversation. So while the vicious cycle might originate inside, I think the answer lies outside. To overcome our negative patterns and deliver the slap upside the head we need, we must engage others.
As I am a strong introvert - this is not always a welcome notion. I would love to sit here and just think harder. Think harder and make changes occur. Think harder and solve my challenges. Think harder and dream up great new ideas. But thinking harder - trying harder - is rarely the answer. And what was I doing just before I decided to compose this post? Thinking harder - it's just so natural for me. Here is a story called The Fly that is a wonderful reminder (relayed to me by Ralph Stayer, friend and CEO of Johnsonville Foods).
I’m sitting in a quiet room at the Millcroft Inn, a peaceful little place hidden back among the pine trees about an hour out of Toronto. It’s just past noon, late July, and I’m listening to the desperate sounds of a life or death struggle going on a few feet away. There’s a small fly burning out the last of its short life’s energies in a futile attempt to fly through the glass of the windowpane. The whining wings tell the poignant story of the fly’s strategy—try harder.
But it’s not working.
The frenzied effort offers no hope for survival. Ironically, the struggle is part of the trap. It is impossible for the fly to try hard enough to succeed at breaking through the glass. Nevertheless, this little insect has staked its life on reaching its goal through raw effort and determination.
The fly is doomed. It will die there on the windowsill.
Across the room, ten steps away, the door is open. Ten seconds of flying time and this small creature could reach the outside world it seeks. With only a fraction of the effort now being wasted, it could be free of this self-imposed trap. The breakthrough possibility is there. It would be so easy.
Why doesn’t the fly try another approach, something dramatically different? How did it get so locked in on the idea that this particular route and determined effort, offer the most promise for success? What logic is there in continuing until death, to seek a breakthrough with “more of the same?