Six Workout Secrets for Leading Through Change

Any change, whether self-selected, imposed, or out-of-the-blue, requires energy to move through. Energy management is the building block of resiliency. It stands to reason then that we might find lessons from the very place that gives us energy: the gym!

I admit to being an exercise fanatic and, in doing so, I have come to understand some parallel lessons on leading yourself and others through change.

These might sound small but remember the might of a single mosquito. Small can make a big difference.  Consider these:

Hydrate. The body demands water when it is being physically taxed. So too does the brain. Notice I didn’t say “coffee." Just plain old clear water. Water might not be our favorite beverage but hydration actually helps our endurance.  No wonder we want pitchers of water in our training rooms and by our desks!

Cross train.  It’s essential for continual improvement. We all get into our ruts, doing the same routines over and over again and wondering why we don’t see any improvement. The same thing happens when confronted with change. Somehow, we think that if we try doing MORE of the same thing, we can make it.

Not so. One organization, having been sold to a very different company, was paralyzed with fear. However, a smart leader brought in outsiders who had gone through a similar situation and triumphed. Learning new ways of behaving from these outsiders was akin to cross training.

Push beyond your barriers.  There are two kinds of barriers: those imposed by others and those imposed by ourselves. The latter are the most restrictive. I finally took a spin class where I found myself on a stationary bike. One minute I was pedaling up Mt. Everest and the next, racing at breakneck speed down the mountain. I thought I would die. But I went back to another class to prove to myself that my MIND can triumph over my body.

The work by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, as outlined in her best-selling book Mindset, offers compelling evidence regarding the power of a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset.

A fixed mindset sees failure, assumes negativity, and envisions disaster. A growth mindset encounters change and looks for ways to learn and grow. The former sees barriers. The latter breaks down walls. Caveat: Dweck insists that to break down the wall, one must have a compelling WHY in order to proceed.

Talk is cheating.  At my gym, there are members who spend most of their time swapping war stories and giving updates on current sports matches. Instead of working out, they talk.  And then, they’ll ALSO talk about how hard they worked out. I think that’s cheating

Stick to the task at hand. Don’t just talk: DO! Action is always louder than words

Get a trainer.  I always thought I could exercise alone until the day I was given a few sessions with a trainer. He saw what I could not: my posture with free weights; how one exercise was not going to get the results I wanted. He taught me how to use machines I had stayed away from and kept up the encouragement. And, I also knew he’d hold me accountable for results.

Call it a consultant, coach, an advisor, a mentor—whatever. But all of us can benefit from the advice and new eyes of someone outside of ourselves. An outsider offers a different perspective, hopefully with no political agenda or secondary motive other than to help you succeed.

Celebrate. I admit: I despised exercise when I started. But I KNEW that I had to begin. I set a goal of 3 exercise sessions per week—30 minutes to start.  Every time I exercised, I put a sticker in my appointment book. Sounds silly but at least I could count the smiley faces at the end of a week.

In going through change, what could you do to recognize effort—not perfection? What small steps deserve recognition, praise, and perhaps—even a sticker? Or an ice cream cone?  It is the encouragement of effort that can keep you and those around you moving through with resiliency.


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