After the wicked winter we all endured, spring is especially welcomed this year. And with spring comes new growth. I was having lunch with my friend, Debbie, and we were discussing the DiSC work style assessment. I provide training on this popular, 4-quadrant work style assessment which helps people understand their style and behavior. On one axis, people identify with being either fast-paced or more moderate and thoughtful in their decision-making style. On the other axis, people are either task-focused or people-focused. Now Debbie is the typical “D” Dominant style — she’s all about execution, getting as much done as possible and taking on big projects. I tend toward the “S” Steadiness style — more moderate-paced, loyal, good listener and resistant to change. As we were talking, it struck me as so ironic that even though I resist change, I am in the business of change. As a coach, I am always supporting people as they move closer to their ideal job, their ideal career path, their ideal life. In other words, as they change. During a recent coaching call with my new client, Ann, she was telling me about her dream to be an artist. She had studied art, had read about how other artists got their start and was yearning to get started with her own creations. But she was paralyzed with fear. When she described her fear, she was really stuck, “What if my work (i.e. me) is rejected? What if people think it’s terrible?” On the other hand, when she described her future vision when she had “made it” as an artist, she was strong, confident and joyful. During our coaching call, she clearly vacillated between these two ends of the spectrum. I told Ann I was seeing a bridge. She loved this visual. It acknowledged both parts of her journey — the initial fear and trepidation as well as the joy and fulfillment on the other side of the bridge. Robert Fritz in his book, The Path of Least Resistance For Managers, has another name for this “bridge.” He calls it structural tension, the distance between our current reality and our desired state. Optimally, we want to move toward our desired state and thereby eliminate or reduce our structural tension. For Ann, taking steps across the bridge to her desired outcome meant daily actions. She began to take at least 15 minutes every day toward creating her art. This time was not about creating the “perfect” art, it was about creating the habit of dedicated time to practice. Without the judgment of “is it good enough?” she was able to work on her craft and develop a rhythm. As we enjoy this time of seasonal new growth, think about your own growth opportunities. Where can you create the bridge from where you are now to where you want to be? What small steps can you take toward reducing the structural tension of a goal? Let spring be a time of new growth and thank goodness, warmth and sunshine!
Susan Combs, MBA and Professional Certified Coach, works with coaching clients to create fresh starts, enhance their leadership skills and increase their confidence. She is an authorized licensee of the Fit Leader's Program. Susan provides one-on-one coaching, DiSC team-building training and manages corporate mentor programs. She lives in Lansing with her son, Max, and their golden retriever puppy. Visit SusanCombsCoaching.com or MentorRoadmap.com for more information.