A few days ago, I received a note from a family member. He was anxious about changes at work and the challenges it would likely create. As I listened with compassion and empathy, his fears were relatable. Perhaps, change isn’t nearly as easy for some as it may be for others? It got me thinking to the time I attended the StandOut Strengths Coaching Certification conducted by TMBC with the incomparable Tracy Hutton.
In one of our sessions, Tracy spoke to the power of language and how it shapes our world. She said: “…We draw to us what we put our attention on. If your brain is saying it’s “hard”, it’s going to seek evidence that it is hard. If you can replace that with a word like “different”, for example, you will see that it can be different and without value judgment.”
Today, I wish to explore that vital aspect of language and how it influences our mindset by exploring a 3-Fold Path to make friends with change.
“…We live in language as fish live in water: it is transparent to us. It’s not that we don’t know that we speak and listen, but rather that we are unaware that language is shaping the world as we see it…” – Julio Olalla’s Foreword in Language and the Pursuit of Happiness by Chalmers Brothers.
Path 1: Anxiety to Curiosity [Work Example]
Language is continuously shaping your world. So how can you become more intentional about changing your language and creating a new mindset? Here are a few examples:
I don’t know what’s in store for me this year.
|I wonder what the new supervisor is like…|
|Everything seems so uncertain. Who knows what will happen.||I’m looking forward to learning 3, new things this year.|
|My boss is very young. She has no idea what it is to juggle work and home.||I wonder if I have fact-based evidence to believe that.|
|A couple years from now, my life could change drastically. I’m anxious just thinking about it.||
One thing I can do to view this differently is…
Additional points to consider as you move from anxiety to curiosity:
- What does my new team love and loathe?
- Where does their joy come from?
- What causes do they care deeply about and what moves them?
- Set expectations and draw boundaries in new, professional relationships.
- How can I build trust? What are their value systems?
- How important is work-home-community-inner-self integration to the new leader of my team?
Write down at least 3 things you can do to become more curious about the person or situation that is causing the change in your life.
Path 2: Scarcity to Abundance [Personal Example]
When you feel like the little you have will be taken away from you, it’s not just terrifying. It is very stressful. What potential shifts can you create by moving away from scarcity to abundance?
|I can’t afford this.||I’m so lucky for everything I have!|
|My neighbor competes with everything I do. I can’t keep up to this game.||There’s enough to go around. No amount of competition can truly deplete the goodness in the world.|
|That family seems to have it all so easy.||What I can control and influence is right here in front of me in the abundance of my beautiful life.|
|It’s not fair that I struggle all the time and the rest seem to have all the luck.||I’m genuinely happy to see others succeed, even if they’re not my favorite people.|
Additional points to consider as you move from scarcity to abundance.
Express Gratitude – I am grateful! (To be alive, to have love (not limited to romantic love), to have family, to have good health, to have the ability to think, to feel joy and sorrow etc.)
Appreciate – “What you appreciate, appreciates”- Tal Ben-Shahar. Being grateful for everything you have is a great, first step. Taking that to the next step includes appreciating – the gifts, the people, your family, your professional network. The incredible power of generous, genuine, appreciation cannot be emphasized enough.
Give – abundantly of what you seek! Tal Ben-Shahar tweeted: “…It is not success but kindness that leads to happiness, it is not achieving but giving that infuses life with meaning…” Even though it seems counter intuitive, I’m learning that the more I give, the more I receive.
Write down at least 3 things you can do to change your language from scarcity to abundance.
Path 3: Loss to Gain
In 2008, I was in a Leading for Change class with an incredible facilitator and executive coach: Dr. Brian Buford. And I never forgot what he said: “People don’t resist change, they resist loss”. Many years later, I learned from Brian himself that this was from the book: “The Practice of Adaptive Leadership…” The quote and the incredible insights he shared in our session that day, have stayed with me all these years.
With loss comes sadness. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In Language and the Pursuit of Happiness by Chalmers Brothers, the author reiterates that sadness is a “…totally healthy, normal, natural emotional space, even to the degree that people who never visit sadness can be said to be missing out on quite a lot…” Because sadness, like the author says, reveals a lot about what we care and why it’s important to us.
What you see here is in the context of persistent or a ‘recurrent mood of sadness’. In this case, it’s an opportunity to explore potential, psychological shifts you can create by moving away from loss to gain statements.
|I miss the safety of what I knew.||The new person in my network could provide new perspectives.|
|I’m afraid to be vulnerable in this situation.||I could learn something new about myself here.|
|I have a new boss and I need to build a new partnership again.||Through this change, I could gain a new coach and sponsor.|
|I don’t have the energy to get through this.||This could actually be fun!|
Write down at least 3 things you can do to change your language from loss to gain statements.
If you wish to use the 3-Fold Path as worksheets in your change journey, please click on the following links for free download:
Change is inevitable. But suffering is optional, as they say. It takes work to make the psychological shifts. But embracing change may shine the light on the true grit you’re already made of.
- The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics
- John C Maxwell: 6 Tips to Develop and Model an Abundance Mindset
Anitha Aswath is an HR Consultant and Strengths Coach of Leader Success in the Leadership and Team Intelligence Practice Area at Cisco. She has the unique privilege of meeting Cisco clients from all over the world to serve, teach, and enable the success of their teams.
THIS IS A PERSONAL BLOG AND VIEWS DON’T REPRESENT CISCO’S STRATEGIES OR OPINIONS.