I recently dined at a 'West Coast fish house' in San Francisco called Anchor & Hope. It's in a renovated turn-of-the-century artist's warehouse. The food and ambiance were terrific, but the name of the place is what keeps me remembering it.
The name, Anchor & Hope, seems to be a really good metaphor for what we often spotlight in this blog -- the challenge of breaking free from the weight of the past in order to pursue the possibility of a more valuable future.
If we were truly honest with ourselves, many of us would admit that we're bogged down by the security of the past. It's no one's fault, really. Human nature relies on a cyclical, continuous system to stay alive. It's called Life. We survive on patterns, repetitions, and consistency. As the saying goes we are creatures of habit. Is it surprising, then, that some organizations are stuck in their ways?
We take comfort in the way things are -- even the way things have been. The past and present are familiar on multiple dimensions. You know what was involved. You know how you felt. You even know the impact of your actions. Anything beyond that, by definition, is unknown.
Most people don't do well with the unknown. Nor do they jump into situations that are ambiguous and fuzzy. That's why it's so difficult to enroll people in change platforms. We are innately opposed to doing something different.
Then why do some people and certain organizations risk the comfort and reward of the past and present for the possibility of a better tomorrow?
- Darwin said only the fittest survive. Put another way, someone will always step up to do whatever it takes to win. That's drive.
- Some people simply desire more. And they are willing to risk everything to take them to a place they believe is better. That's ambition.
- Whether by intent or accident someone will disrupt what's known with an innovative solution to a big problem. That's curiosity.
To break the grip of inertia, we need leaders who are unafraid of the dark. We need leaders who are comfortable with ambiguity. We need leaders who can paint a powerful picture of what's possible. We need leaders who can articulate a compelling case for the journey there. We need clear, tangible tools to guide us forward. And we need constant reminders of our progress.
Sustainable change will not happen without proper leadership and fortitude. Give people a compelling reason to believe. Show them where you're going and how you're going to get there. Make it emotional, not just rational. Reinforce the message every chance you can. And transparently highlight your progress.
Do this, and you will release the anchor that's holding you back. Give people hope and they will move mountains.
What is your anchor? What is holding you or your organization back?
What is your hope? What do you really wish for?
The sooner you focus on shedding what's holding you back, the sooner you can start realizing the potential of what you hope for. Otherwise, your hope will remain anchored in the past.