Challenge Your Thinking

Embrace Change .Go Bowling!

During the recent school vacation week my granddaughter and I decided to go bowling. It would be her first time and for me, it had been years since I had stepped through the doors of a duck pin bowling alley. In fact, I'm sure it predated the days when smoking was allowed in public buildings. But, like so many things that you spend a lot of time learning at an early age, the familiarity of returning to the bowling alley should, as they say, be like riding a bicycle.

While I was excited about spending time with Olivia, I found myself feeling a little apprehensive about just walking into a place I hadn't been before without knowing the lay of the land. I guess I could have made a dry run to ensure there wouldn't be any surprises, but after all this is just bowling and at six years old, most of what I do in her eyes is considered cool. Perhaps that was it! Was I feeling this way because of a fear of looking foolish in front of my granddaughter? Enough of this

We parked the car and walked through the amusement center to the bowling alley counter. The place was packed with families and kids with the noise of the pins crashing together providing the background music. So far, it was just as I remembered. While I stood waiting to get the guy's attention behind the counter, Olivia was already taking off her shoes to step into the foot imprints designed into the rug that help provide the right child shoe sizes to ask for. Even the guy behind the counter was impressed. He then handed me some shoes, a lane number and asked us for our first names. Before I could ask for a score sheet and why he wanted our first names he was typing our names into the computer. When he finished and saw me still standing at the counter he yelled out, the scoring is computerized, just punch it in. I thought to myself, punch what in? At the same moment Olivia was off to locate the lane we'd been assigned.

Arriving at number 12 we got busy exchanging our street shoes for those hard working multi colored soles that were about to experience their 5th pair of feet for the day. As we finished tying our shoes I looked up at the scoreboard. As the man behind the counter predicted, our names were there but I couldn't help thinking that not having an actual score sheet and pencil seemed to take some of the fun out of the game. I remember saying it out loud to Olivia and receiving an acknowledgment from an adult on the next alley. We then quickly figured out there was nothing to push or do to activate the scoring, it was all done electronically.

From the first ball to the last that Olivia and I bowled, our scores were automatically represented on the lighted scoreboard above our heads. And, it didn't take me too long to realize that the scoring thing I thought I missed was actually a habit that was improved by a change that allowed us to laugh and talk to each other rather than being distracted by keeping track of the score. So! What does all this have to do with embracing change?

It has to do with a metaphor for mental paralysis that is often learned in the halls of business where people engage in problem solving, i.e. "We've got to think outside the box." Nick Souter in his book, breakthrough thinking describes the walls of the box as six common barriers to creative thinking. They're behaviors that impact our ability deal with change and free our thinking to move forward without being anchored by the assurances of what has been tried and proven in the past. These walls are Fear, Assumption, Habit, Rules, Knowledge, and Complacency.

If you enjoy a challenge, read this a second time and think about your own behavior when it comes to a change you are dealing with or the behavior of a person you are attempting to influence to get a new idea of yours accepted. Ask yourself how the behaviors you exhibit help or hinder you.

We are always interested in your comments and feedback. And, if you find that you could use help overcoming the behaviors that are getting in the way of your performance, give us a call for a free consult.

I was referred to Norman Gauthier in 1997 by my manager who was also a client of his. I had recently taken a challenging new position within a rapidly growing financial services company. In our first meeting I was amazed at how quickly Norm was able to identify certain behaviors and habits that were impeding success in my new role. We met on several occasions afterwards, following up on and tuning my professional development plan. I began to see results almost immediately, and today look back on this as a soul searching experience that helped charge my career for the next decade. I thoroughly enjoyed these meetings as well, and I know that many of my colleagues in the organization were also benefiting from Norm’s coaching.

I highly recommend Norm to organizations and professionals looking to maximize their potential and who are open to change and having an honest look at themselves. Over the last decade I have kept in touch with Norm. Over time I have observed how he is particularly in tune with how The Organization has evolved amid technological and other changes. He is also genuinely interested in my progress and seeing that I’m maintaining my edge. Whenever we get together, I always learn something new that helps me.

Dan Doherty,
Technical Director Software Development

Executive Coaching & Consulting - Boston, MA

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