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Change is Good…You Go First

“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far to go.” ~ T.S. Elliot
Last month, as I turned the page on last year’s calendar and began to hear all the talk about resolutions and goals; I felt a sense of anticipation as to what 2008 would bring. I wanted to just hibernate and reflect. What was next for me? I have long been a person who doesn’t make New Year’s resolutions and rarely sets goals. I begin each year wanting to be the best person I can be and asking the universe and God to send me those I am intended to work with. I am also a person who's dedicated to life-long learning and growing. So why then, as I began to close out 07 and move into 08, did I have an odd assortment of feelings - both anticipation and doubt.

I look back over my career and feel so blessed for the opportunities I’ve had and how far I’ve come. And yet, this strange sense of “ jitters” about what’s next always seems to show up again and again. I realize this is natural. If we aren’t afraid we aren’t growing. Comfortable is a word that can be toxic to both us and our businesses. When we are comfortable, we stop moving forward, we stop changing, we stop growing. We must keep looking forward. That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy today.

The word change seems to be the buzz word in the Democratic political race and I'll be the first to admit we certainly need a change, but what does that mean? I am really surprised at how focused I have been on politics in the past few months. I watch the debates, I read the papers, I listen to the polls and the television commentators. Nobody really seems to know what either candidate means by change, but all seem to agree that its about a brighter tomorrow.

If we are always focused on today’s problems, we are blind to tomorrow's opportunities. We must focus on solutions, which will lay the foundation for tomorrow's opportunities. I believe that is what coaching is all about. It is about embracing change today, doing the best we can today, and always remaining in growing mode. This is what prepares us to face whatever tomorrow may bring. The end result being that our vision of tomorrow becomes reality.

Most entrepreneurs and leaders I know get bored without new challenges and opportunities to grow into something stronger. Growth, however, often means change and that’s where it can get scary. We all agree change is good, but we want someone else to go first. Keeping change alive is what fosters innovation, creativity and risk-taking. Anyone on a growth track stares down this fear on a regular basis; others, become immobilized. Which are you?

Nell Merlino, Co-founder and CEO of Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, also has a passion for empowering women in business. Through her work, she has encountered many entrepreneurs who feel stuck when their enterprise reaches a certain point. Merlino believes that rather than seeing themselves as “stuck,” it is more helpful to look upon this temporary state as being stalled. It’s easier to accelerate out of that state of mind.

A great way to get “un-stalled” this year is to create a vision that involves taking risks and embracing change. Here are six tips for how to make this an extraordinary year:

  1. Look beyond maintenance and see growth.

  2. Tackle something new, even if it’s daunting (especially if it’s daunting).

  3. Devise a sequence of small steps…you don’t have to move a mountain.

  4. Schedule time to invest in development by delegating tasks to others.

  5. Write your vision statement and post it prominently as a reminder when your engine begins to idle*

  6. Share this email with others; others who will support your growth and will perhaps embrace change as well - once they see you going first.

“In the end it is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be by remaining who we are”. ~ Max Depree

*Last paragraph and 5 steps adapted from the January publication of

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