The book outlines how conventional strategies of preparing and planning for major career changes are counterproductive to the change process. I’m only half way through the book, but I’ve already had multiple ‘ah-has’ and would recommend it to anyone who is thinking about changing their career.
As I was reading, I stumbled on the following passage. The author described:
…a parable about a woman swimming across a lake with a rock in her hand. As the woman neared the center of the lake, she started to sink from the weight of the stone. People watching from the shore urged her to drop the rock, but she kept swimming, sinking more and more. To the gathering crow, the solution was obvious. Their “drop the rock” chorus grew louder and louder with her increasing difficulty staying afloat. But all their yelling did little good. As she sank, they heard her say, “I can’t. It’s mine.”
Have you ever watched someone close to you struggle with something, and at the same time watch them repeat the same, self-destructive patterns of behaviors over and over again? Even more humbling is when you get called out on a similar situation, or you experience your own ah-ha moment as you realize that your own actions (or in-actions) get in your way of what's possible.
I had a rather humbling experience recently, where someone challenged me to look at a story I had been telling myself. Over and over again I would reaffirm that story, placing blame on that other situation so that I wouldn't have to examine my actions. Was that what I went around telling myself? Of course not! I was so fixedly caught up in my story of pain and heartache. I never even paused to consider what I was really telling myself – that this situation was totally outside my control, that I had every right to feel slighted and wronged, and that the only way I was going to feel better was that something or someone else was going to have to change.
Ever had a similar experience? It’s a little embarrassing, yes – but the moment you have it is the moment you can start changing that story. And truly, once you feel like you’re back in the driver’s seat, the more empowered you feel – even if the first step you have to take is apologizing to someone.
Exercise of Reflection:
Think about a story that you tell yourself regularly. It may be about someone you know, about yourself, or a situation you're experiencing. You may be blaming someone or something or simply feeling powerless to change the situation.
What is central to your story? What do you tell yourself that are “absolute truths” (truths that may have little to do with the real situation or have been generalized from one situation to an entire set of circumstances)?
What are some other ways to think about the situation? Could there be another explanation? Can you make room for feeling empathy or compassion? What do you have to change about yourself in order to create a new story?
Are those thoughts pulling you down, getting in the way of the growth and changes you desire? Are you prepared to let go of that rock?