A few years ago, as president of a national association, I found myself repeatedly attempting to convince a couple of naysayers that the direction the Board had chosen was one of value and the ‘right’ way to go. The options had been debated, the decision had been made, and the train had left the station. However, I was still stuck at the rear urging a couple of reluctant individuals to jump on board.
I was fortunate enough to be counseled by a colleague experienced in the ways of change, who advised, “Pat, move on and move forward. We don’t need everybody. We just need enough.”
Those words rang true at the time, and I often call them to mind. Just last week, in a professional development session I delivered on Building An Appreciative Culture, an attendee asked, “How can we convince the lone wolf naysayers and grumps that it’s better to strike a more positive tone?” I found myself echoing my colleague’s advice, “Move on and move forward. We don’t need everybody. We just need enough!”
Now, sometimes there are legitimate concerns. And, sometimes there are other issues to work on or other directions to consider. And, sometimes, people are, at heart, all right with heading in the same direction; they just want to take a different route to get there. Things aren’t always black and white.
That said, there does come a point where it is simply time to get on with things. As the old saying goes, those who are convinced it can’t be done will often be proven wrong by those who are busy doing it. Once the majority moves confidently ahead, those lagging and dragging will eventually be forced to make a choice – to jump on board, to break another trail to the same destination, to quiet their naysaying, or perhaps to move to a different arena where their point of view is a better fit.
Action: If you’ve ever invested a whole pile of energy trying to convince one or two people to change their behavior or their opinions when they really don’t care to change (or they enjoy the extra attention that comes with being the odd souls out), you know it can be downright exhausting and a colossal drain on energy.
Look for other ways forward. Recognize when you’ve achieved critical mass – when you’ve engaged enough members of the group that you can sidestep the skirmishes and concentrate instead on stepping forward with confidence.
Quote Of The Week: “You can help ten people who want to be helped in the same time it takes to realize you can’t help the one person who doesn’t want to be helped.” – Alan Weiss
Resource Of The Week: HBR blogger, Peter Bregman, offers several insights on How To Counter Resistance To Change.
Readers Write: In response to last week’s message, Crossing The Line Can Be A Very Good Thing, Pause reader, KW, writes: Your mention of ‘one step at a time’ reminded me of our heli-hiking, mountain climbing trip. As I moved along the mountain, I had to focus on making the next step so I wouldn’t freak out! But the absolute exhilaration at the top was well worth the effort. I will savor the feeling for a very long time!
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