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What You Need To Know About The Change Cycle: Stage 3 (Emerging)

{In previous posts I provided an overview of the cycle of change and looked at the first stage and the second stage. Today we are diving into the THIRD STAGE of the change cycle.}

When your dreams become clear enough that you can see an outcome you wish to create – it’s time to take action. Stage three is all about moving the dreams and schemes you nurtured through stage two into the real world.

And so, off you go!

As you take action, you advance easily and effortlessly to achieve the results you dreamed of. Cue the triumphant music and roll credits as you bask in the life of your dreams!

Um. Not exactly.

Stage three is also known as the hero’s journey. This is the plot of countless movies, books and reality TV shows. It looks something like this:

  • Hero sets out on a quest

  • Hero runs into unimaginable obstacles

  • Hero struggles

  • Hero triumphs

See the parts about obstacles and struggles? The hero’s journey is what stage three is really like. You take your ideas into the real world and something goes wrong. Probably a lot of somethings go wrong. It feels very much like the old saying, “just one damn thing after another”.

No matter how much you plan, you never know what will happen when you begin taking steps forward.

No matter how optimistic and enthusiastic you are, you don’t know what you don’t know.

You might, for example, plan a vacation to another country. When you land at the airport on the outskirts of the city and pick up your rental car, you enter the address for your hotel into the car’s GPS for the short drive… and six hours later find yourself in a city on the other side of the country. (True story – happened to an American tourist in Iceland. He then became a local celebrity after his story hit the news.)

Or, after devoting your waking life to launching a start-up online music streaming service, you implement a desperate advertising campaign to bring in listeners by putting fake parking tickets on people’s cars around your city. Not only does this annoy people, but the tickets have a misprint. Where it was supposed to say that your service offers 7.2 million songs, the word “million” is left out so you are offering potential listeners 7.2 songs. (True story – happened to Grooveshark.)

These obstacles can be demoralizing – killing your confidence and sinking your dreams. But just because an idea doesn’t work out the first time (or the third or the thirtieth) doesn’t mean it’s forever doomed or wasn’t meant to be. It’s important to remember that stage three is all about trial and error.

Here are some strategies to help you navigate the rocky territory of stage 3:

  • Expect things to go wrong. Persistence is what counts here. Failure is a step toward success.

  • Do things imperfectly. You are most likely going to find yourself in unfamiliar situations – drop any ideas about perfection and embrace experimenting.

  • Martha Beck created a mantra for stage 3: This is harder than I expected and that’s OK. Say it out loud. Repeat it often.

  • Learn from your mistakes. Let every ‘oops’ become a learning opportunity. You may need to briefly revisit stages one and two to adapt and develop new plans. Then keep going.

The metamorphosis of a caterpillar inside its chrysalis takes about two weeks. When the full-grown butterfly is ready to emerge, it forces the chrysalis open and pushes itself out. The struggle is necessary for the butterfly’s survival – the effort needed to escape the chrysalis pushes fluid into its wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly would not fly.

And so it goes in stage three: the challenges you overcome will be the key to your success, as you become stronger along the way. Just don’t give up.

"When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills." – Chinese Proverb

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