Sunday, February 16, 2014
My recent blog post about "Second Chances" spurred some interesting conversations with friends (some of whom I did not know even read my blog) about the notion of "can people change?". Some agreed that people can start fresh and put the negatives behind them, while others disagreed. A few had been burned by giving second chances. Others had themselves gone through a metamorphosis. I enjoy such discussions, but admit that I am very optimistic about people. I am sad when I encounter those who cannot put preconceived notions (about me or others) behind them.
"Reinvention of Self" seems to be a hot topic. To improve and grow we cannot stay in the same spot, and thus I believe that ambitious people are always looking for ways to be new. This may involve slight tweaks and adjustments, or it could mean a complete change in the way of being.
A few months I read a post on TechCrunch by James Altucher called "The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Reinventing Yourself". It was a great article, and I suggest you take a moment to read it if you are interested in this topic. The key point Altucher makes is that it takes time (he says 5 years), and you should not expect your friends to be supportive (what friends?, he adds). I agree that it takes time, not only to implement your new ways, but also to unseat the impressions that linger in the heads of people in your life.
One person shared an article by Seth Godin in Success Magazine from a few years ago, called "Ways to Reinvent Yourself". Godin talks about more than polishing or improving, but undergoing a full restart. It is not easy to do, and he is quick to point out that there is the risk of failure when you try to reinvent. Fear of failing is crippling, and too many people never try new things because they know they could flop.
My experience, and tying back to the discussion of "Second Chances", is that many people in your life do not want to see you climb out of the box and achieve something new. Their own identity is tied to how they judge others, and if you change then they could be wrong in their opinion (and that is not acceptable). Additionally There is an old analogy to humans changing and growing that relates to storing lobsters in an open topped box. When one lobster begins to crawl out (and escape to a fresh start), another will grab it with its claws and pull it back into the enclosure. Having never kept live shellfish in a box, I am not sure of the truth in this observation about lobsters,... but I have seen enough people try to stifle others that I get the point.
Reinventing yourself is possible, but you have to have a thick skin. People may accuse you of being phony or question your motivation. They may choose not to notice the improvements you make, and far too often they will gossip about you with others. It is the rare soul who will stand up for you and praise you to those who knew you in the past. Oh well, so sad. Move on and keep doing what you know you need to be doing to be true to your best self.
Working on improving and reinventing is not a one time deal. To be effective it has to be part of your lifestyle. One has to be open to coaching, and not grimace at the negatives that others might find in you. I am always seeking to discover my own weak areas and find paths to do better. While it is no fun to know you come up short, ignoring your missteps will hold you back.
A friend recently pointed out a failing of mine that was mentioned by others. She was nervous of being the "messenger" (remember, some people kill the messenger!) and almost did not have this important conversation. However, I am glad she did, as her words have lingered in my soul daily, and with each conversation I have had since I have altered my behavior. No bad habit or trait can be changed overnight, but without an effort, they will never be corrected.
There is no way to get others to give you the benefit of the doubt, or open their mind to the "New You".... but you can change how you look at people who are working to improve themselves or start fresh. Be open minded and support those who are trying to reinvent. Do not expect support from the people around you (although allow some to surprise you), but lead by example in how you behave toward those who are beginning anew.
If you have reinvented, or want to reinvent.... let me know. These stories are always fascinating, and we can all learn from the actions taken by others. I promise to support you with positive thoughts!!!
Have A Great Day