Every step towards success requires a tiny revolution. Evolution is too subtle. Revolution is too drastic. In between, let’s add “tiny revolutions.” Here’s what I mean.
By “revolution,” let’s consider these your moments of break away. You decide one day that you loathe being a cubicle farmer. You decide one day that you need more money. You decide one day that you’re sick of feeling fat and lazy. You pick whatever the “cause” is. What happens next is that you move from thinking into action-taking.
That step is huge, by the way. The difference between thinking about something, deciding something, and DOING something is like the difference between firing a gun and just throwing the bullet. (I think I stole the bullet analogy from Chris Rock.)
When you decide to take action, the hope is that you’re moving towards something that matters more, and away from something that wasn’t quite working for you.
Before you launch your revolutions, realize these details:
No King Ever Ordered a Revolution
When you make your choice to do something that wasn’t what came before, you won’t find a great deal of support. Institutions exist to preserve themselves. People, by their very nature, cling to “how things are,” even when they don’t really like the way they’re going. We have a natural tendency inside of ourselves to want things to stay the same (again, even when “the same” is synonymous with “not really what I want”).
In this same way, the people you count on for love and support might not always support your revolution, either. They see you as what you were, not what you’re dreaming you can be. Your family, your loved ones, people in the system that you think are on your side might not always see your vision as clearly as you do. (One way to help is to explain things clearly, in simple terms, with a sense of the goal you’re seeking to accomplish, but that’s sometimes easier said than done, and other times, it doesn’t help.)
Revolutions Require Daily Action
Planning for “someday” is ineffective. You have to decide what your revolution looks like on the day-to-day scale. Have a vision and keep it far out in front of you, but give yourself daily tasks that will accomplish it. For instance, over the coming year, I’m planning to do much more with improving how human business works. One of the tasks I do daily is seek out new articles, books, blogs, and other content to help me better frame my ideas.
Revolutions are Made Up of Many Events
The American Revolution had several events that brought everything forward. It didn’t just start with the “shot heard round the world” and then we all sat down and wrote the Constitution. The same is true of your own tiny revolutions.
You decide one day that you don’t like how your company handles customer service or marketing or whatever. You decide that you don’t feel treated well at home. You decide that you’re living the wrong life. Whatever the moment is that starts things, you will also experience and participate in several other events along the way.
The KEY difference between your revolution and letting life live you is that YOU start making these events happen, instead of just letting them happen to you.
When I decided to leave my wireless services company, one of the events I made happen was that I took my enthusiasm from a BarCamp I attended to the senior team. I pushed for them to see the value in starting invigorated micro-conferences within the organization to help grow our capabilities. They wanted to stay the course (which is what business people do when given options). That event gave me information I needed to further make my decisions.
Tools of the Revolution
With this new change, you need new tools. You need new ways to see, new ways to think, new ways to evaluate, new methods of support. You need to try new skills, learn more about different ways of doing, you need to build new habits and forge new alignments.
Tools of the revolution are iterative. We use the tools we take from our surroundings first, but as we develop and evolve, new methods, new systems, new structures form and solidify. Pay close attention to this. Without a shift into new tools, you risk falling back into the status quo.
Revolutions Need Not Be Bloody, But They WILL Hurt
Moving from one state to another involves pain. It might be emotional. It might be physical. But pain is part of revolution. In some cases, it might be the pain of admitting that something doesn’t work well for you. In others, it might be the physical pain of improving your body, or dealing with that medical issue that you’ve put off. Pain can take many forms. The most important thing to realize about most pain is that it’s temporary and that you can work through it.
You can’t dip your toe in a revolution. And at some point, there’s a line that you cross. No matter what happens next, the revolution has started. It doesn’t always end in your favor, and hey, you can retreat (I have). But taking action means that you’ll feel some kind of pain along the way. Accept that. Expect that. And don’t let it get in the way of your goals.
Not All of Us Want a Revolution
You’re not a bad person if you don’t want to start tiny revolutions. You’re not wrong. People aren’t all into the revolution game. Also, if you ARE starting revolutions, remember that not everyone wants in. You might be going this alone. There’s nothing more annoying than the righteous trying to convert those of us who aren’t down with the cause. Understand this dynamic, as it matters a lot to the relationships around you.
Revolutions can be silent for a while. Realize that when you decloak, there will be some turmoil. Never presume the “people” support your cause. It just hasn’t been that way throughout history.
Where Do You Stand?
Have you started a revolution? Do you feel the stirrings of such in you now? Have you been witness to someone else’s revolution?
What else do we need to discuss here?
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