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2 min readThe Best Time to Change

by Guy Gage | December 5, 2009 | Uncategorized

Early on when I had a clinical counseling practice, one of my clients would call me after he broke up with his latest girlfriend. We would review his experience to learn what he should do differently next time. Then we would part ways until months later, when he would call me following his latest break up.  

 After three of these episodes, it became obvious this wasn’t working. It was like Bill Murray’s movie, Groundhog Day. My client was repeating the same relationship, only with different women. What was the disconnect between the lessons he learned and his inability to sustain a relationship?

 So I asked him if he would call me the next time he was IN a relationship, rather after the fact. I wanted to see what was happening “in the moment.” It was only then that we were able to address the real issues adversely affecting him. BTW, he is now happily married and has a beautiful family.

 I say this because, as a professional, you are susceptible to the same thing. You have improvements to make, and you’re committed to making them as soon as (some relief of time, pressure, stress, etc). The problem is that (some relief of time, pressure, stress, etc) never gets here, so you experience Groundhog Day over and over again. At what point will you finally say “This isn’t working?”

 One of my clients was frustrated because no matter what effort he gave, he could no longer satisfy his clients or managing partner the way he used to. He had a new role in the firm and it bothered him because he wasn’t doing well. You see, he had a reputation for delivering high quality work on time and his clients loved him. Now, he was jeopardizing all his past efforts and success. What was the problem?

 Rather than waiting for some relief from suffering a daily hell, he decided to do something about it IMMEDIATELY. The short of it is we examined work style, habits and disciplines, determining why those ways weren’t working now.  

 It became clear that his new role required that he do things differently. We reordered his approach, priorities and practices and now he’s becoming like his old self again—confident, productive and successful. He still has to re-earn the full confidence of a couple of people, but he’ll get there because they see his progress as well.

 The lesson? As you live into a new role or your current role changes, what you used to do to be effective is no longer sufficient. How you work with and communicate with others changes. Your planning and preparation must change. How you track and monitor progress takes on a different discipline. If you don’t identify and make the necessary adjustments, you’re bound to be less effective than what you could be. And the best time is “in the moment,” when you’re in it up to your elbows.

 My client resisted the characteristic of most professionals, which is to do it themselves. As a result, he’s not stuck in Punxsutawney, but back in the fast lane.

 Question: where have you been spending your days?

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