Sometimes it feels like I’m riding through life on a two-speed bike.
To promote real change in an organization, small or large, a leader needs to project a sense of urgency. John Kotter, a Harvard business guru, stuck that belief in my head many years ago. As a founder and CEO of a tiny company, it was necessary for me to view complacency and relaxed tranquility as the enemy. To fight it, I projected a sense of action, using this high-speed excitement to propel the organization forward. I wanted every person to exhibit an unbelievable amount of what my mother used to call “gumption.” Of course, this frenetic work ethic seeped over to my family and social life as well.
But high speed is not the only gear I have on my bike today. At times, I feel serene, and the word “lazy” may even creep into a discussion of my behavior. In these quiet moments, I tell myself that life is too short to run around as if my underwear is on fire. I close my eyes and dream of a warm campfire where I am slowly roasting marshmallows, leading a verse of Kumbaya and having all those around me join in, singing in harmony just like those old Coke commercials.
I have a hunch most people have 15 gears on their bikes and can adjust their intensity of engagement appropriately to match each situation. For most, I’m sure it’s a rarity to be operating in the highest or lowest gear.
Me, not so much. I tend to ride at one extreme or the other. I can write and talk all I want about the importance and value of keeping balance in one’s life, but to practice what I preach is another matter. Maybe it’s a personality defect. Maybe I need to adjust how I pedal.
But, hey, soon it will be springtime and I can go in search of a new lifestyle bike, one with all kinds of levels of emotions and behaviors attached to the gears. Then, if I could only teach myself how to ride the darn thing.
About the author
Since founding The Change Companies® in 1988, Don has worked with approximately 150 agencies and corporations, tailoring Interactive Journals to serve those working and participating in the caring professions. His collaborative efforts in substance use, justice services, impaired driving, healthcare and education have consistently focused on helping individuals explore the process of positive personal change.
Earlier in his career, Don worked in many industries, including hotel management, publishing, higher education administration and healthcare business development. Along the way, he created numerous companies, experiencing both successes and failures. Many of these life lessons and joyous observations found their way into Don’s recent book, The Adventures of Binder-Man.
Don is most proud and appreciative of the outstanding employees who have shaped The Change Companies® for over two decades.
Word of the Week
Today, something might seem “frenetic” when it starts to feel wild, crazy or out of control. Originally, this description extended well past an overall feeling, to the point of a clinical definition. The Greek root phren, for “mind,” became the diagnosis phrenitis, describing inflammation of the brain. This term was used throughout the Middle Ages for those exhibiting symptoms of frenzy or delirium. Eventually, this frantic nature was applied to anything that kept a hectic pace.