Tuesday, September 25, 2012
If Wishes Were Changes
We'd all live in roses
And there wouldn't be children
Who cried in their sleep"
"If Wishes Were Changes", Nanci Griffith, Storms
I caught myself wishing the other day and immediately started to chastise myself for such a fruitless exercise. Wishing is for children's birthday candles, pennies tossed into the fountain, and shooting stars. Right?
Yes. And yet even as we leave behind our make-believe worlds, wishing is still a part of our vocabulary and our innermost thoughts.
As adults, we know not to count on wishing alone to see change. "I wish my boss would give me a raise." "I wish my team member would stop stealing my ideas." "I wish this employee would just quit so I didn't have to fire her." These changes will take effort on our part. So why the wishing?
Because we don't want to make those efforts. They're difficult and uncomfortable and risky. "I don't like self promotion, so I don't want to talk salary with my boss. What if she gets mad?" "I don't like confrontation, so I don't want to talk with my team member about what they're doing. What if he laughs at me?" "I don't like to upset people, so I don't want to tell her she's not a fit for the job. What if she starts crying?"
If you hear wishing in your vocabulary, it's a good sign that you have something that's unresolved and needs to be added to your to-do list. It may be one action to drive one change, or it may be a series of actions that kick off an entire change initiative.
And what about the wishes that we don't even say aloud, that we quickly dismiss and send back to whatever realm of the heart/soul/mind that they came from?
Those wishes are more than a to-do item. They are powerful messages that bubble to the surface when we least expect it, deserving of a closer review. Meaningful and sustainable changes happen when we make time to listen to that wish and all that it represents.
I read an article written by an executive coach describing a meeting with one of his CEO clients who was wishing for higher profits. After a series of questions about what higher profits would do for him, they arrived at a surprising answer: higher profits would allow his company to give back to the community and make a difference. That realization became the focus for all the actions and changes that followed.
Wishes are not changes, but if we give them our attention, they can point us to the path for change.