Monthly Archives: March 2013

Barriers & Enablers To Effectiveness: No3: Getting Started

One of the biggest carriers to effectiveness that I encounter in my coaching and leadership development discussions with people is an unwillingness to get started in an effective manner.

It is a well established principle of effectiveness that in order to generate new results, then new action must be taken, as testified to by the famous Albert Einstein quotation:
“Doing the same thing and expecting a different result is one definition of insanity”

Another similarly well established principle is to “dream big but start small”, as attested to by the famous Lao-tzu quotation: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”

So, most people know this and yet fail to put it into practice. Why is that ?
People that I work with tend to fall into one of two camps:

“Some people resist starting small and some resist starting at all”
1. Some people simply resist starting at all !
These people are generally concerned about “losing face” if they make a mistake and/or are preoccupied with “doing the right thing”, as assessed by other people. Their concern with playing safe, fitting in and not offending others paralyses them, and they become masterful at finding reasons not to get started:
“Id like to start, but I am still planning the best course of action”
“Id like to start, but I dont know how to do it right/optimally”
“Id like to start, but my mother/father/husband/wife/boss etc wont like it”

With these people it is important to ensure that they feel safe and that they have support from people around them. When this is in place, getting started becomes much less of an issue for them

2. Some people resist starting small !
These people have a different conversation and it tends to revolve around either a negative assessment of small actions – “Whats the point in doing that, when it still leaves me a million miles from the goal ?” or a perceived lack of challenge in the small action – “Well, I could do that, but its so easy, that Im not going to bother”

The key to working with these kinds of conversations is to emphasise speed, the need to get through these foothills before the mountain can be scaled as well as the prospect of having some fun along the way.

As a coach and leadership development consultant, it is important to know how to deal with these barriers in an effective way. In reality, these type of barriers are the product of human beings’ general desire to be RIGHT about the way that they are currently doing things, and a general unwillingness to change, often referred to as homeostasis.

The key is to remember the old adage that people people dont resist change, as much as they resist being changed. With this in mind, reminding people about why they want to change/achieve this new goal and then acknowledging all progress (however small) is very effective with both groups of people.

Marcus Marsden

TWP Partner

Senior Trainer & PCC Executive Coach