When I taught first grade, my students loved “show & tell”.

This was their time to stand in front of their peers and share something that they had that was special or great and had meaning for them.  But as much as the presenting student loved the item they brought to share, no one else could touch it, experience it for themselves or interact with it.  They were relegated to onlookers, observers and bystanders.  As much as they wanted to touch it and feel it for themselves so they could know first hand why the presenting student loved it so much–they couldn’t.  The audience just had to trust the presenter that it was special.

The same is true when it comes to change.

When people keep hearing about how great change is, how impactful it will be/is or how “everyone” says it’s amazing – but they never actually experience it for themselves, they end up with the same feelings of disappointment and disillusionment that happens in show & tell. No one wants to feel as if they’re on the outside looking in; waiting to experience the thrill that others talk about.  We want to be a part of the action, not sitting on the sidelines. That’s why change – any change – has to be engaging and inclusive if we want it to be long lasting. To accomplish this, we have to look at change from a different perspective in order to truly experience the fullness of it.

Change is a process that begins with an event.

The one thing that we forget is that change is a process that begins with an event.  The event that caused the change was just the catalyst.  It started us down the path that we have to travel next.  But so often we focus our attention so much on the event, that we miss the process of learning, growth and development that comes next. You can’t put a genie back in the bottle.  Once the process begins, it continues; no matter how much we want to go back to the way things were before.

Resisting the process and focusing solely on the event creates a “show & tell” scenario.  The change is happening all around you, but instead of joining in and riding the wave, you’d prefer to listen to others tell you how great it is/will be and end up living vicariously through their experience instead of creating your own.   You cannot learn new lessons if you’re only going to listen to someone else describe what to do but never actually try it yourself.  Learning and growth happen through action and application, not observation.

Learning how to adapt and adopt new ways of thinking, being and doing is critical to survival and success.

When we look at the world around us, we see so many things that are shifting and changing right before our eyes.  Learning how to adapt and adopt new ways of thinking, being and doing is critical to survival and success.  But how many people do you see resisting the change that is before them? How many times have YOU resisted something new and different?  When we resist what’s new, we forego the opportunity to escape our comfort zones and learn new things about ourselves and the way in which we interact with the world around us.  Stubbornly holding fast to what was only slows our growth and development.  We cannot create something new as long as we hold onto the old.

So what does this all mean?  How do we embrace and experience the process so that we can experience REAL change instead of falling victim to “show & tell”?

  1. Lean into the change. The event is just the catalyst.  The real change happens in the process. So instead of holding back and digging in; lean forward into the change.  Embrace the process and let go of your fears, anxiety and attachment to the familiarity of what was so that you can experience what can be.
  2. Connect with others. Embarking on any new journey is scary stuff.  Traveling with others who can reassure you, uplift you, encourage you and guide you is key.  No one navigates the journey of change perfectly at all times.  There will be starts and stops, ups and downs. You need others around whom you can trust to support you along your journey and to hold you accountable.
  3. Show up fully and authentically. We cannot adjust what we refuse to admit.  The process of change is a truth journey.  In order to experience it at its best, you have to be honest and fully committed to showing up and being authentically you.  We talk a lot about walking in “our” truth, but we should be more concerned with walking in “the” truth.  Truth isn’t fluid.  It is what it is. We can have different perspectives, experiences and ways that we interact with the truth, but the truth remains.  Being authentic means that you are willing to be honest with yourself and about yourself.

Life has too much to offer for us to sit on the sidelines and be satisfied with other people’s “show & tell”.  Life is meant to be lived and experienced fully.  It is up to us to create our own success.  To do that, we have to be willing to go through the process of change.  Nothing stays the same.  Growth only happens when we let go of what was to reach for the possibility of what can be.