The Story of Walter and the Pain of Change
There’s an old story about a traveller visiting the countryside and stopping his car at a farm entrance to ask a local for directions. As he wound down his window to talk to the farmer, the busy executive suddenly became aware of a soul-wrenching loud howling appearing to emanate from a nearby field.
He chose to ignore it and politely asked for directions. The farmer, a gnarled and wizened old man, sporting a flanelette shirt, jeans and work boots, paused chewing on his straw and looked out from under the brim of his straw hat. As he began to answer the executive’s questions, his voice was drowned out by another burst of the same deafening howling noise.
“Excuse me sir,” said the traveller, “but what is that awful noise?”
“That’s just old Walter, my pet bloodhound” replied the farmer. “Don’t pay no attention to him now.”
“But it’s awful – he sounds like he’s in terrible pain. What’s the matter with him?” said the traveller, concerned for the dog’s well-being.
“Oh, it’s nothing,” explained the farmer, “There’s just a nail sticking up in his kennel and it hurts his butt every time he sits on it.”
“That’s terrible!” exclaimed the businessman. “Then, if it hurts him so much, why doesn’t he just get off his butt and move off the nail?”
“Well that’s a mighty fine question, sir…” pondered the wise-looking old man. “I guess old Walter’s always been kind of comfortable in that kennel until the nail started sticking up and he’s a creature of habit. You see the thing is that the nail hurts him enough to whine and howl about; it just doesn’t hurt him enough to do something about it.”
Have You Ever Been Like Walter?
I think that most of us at some point in our lives can relate to Walter’s predicament. We become comfortable in our routines and our patterns of behaviour because the familiarity of repeating them makes us feel safe.
It might seem a little bizarre until you consider that psychologists tell us that man’s number one motivating force is to feel safe and avoid at least a perception of the pain of change.
Thus, it can feel ‘safer’ to stick with a job you used to enjoy but now hate; with a partner you may have once loved, but now despise; with friends whose values no longer align with your own; or with holiday destinations, menu choices or even driving routes that enable you to not have to think or be at all challenged by or concerned about.
The duality of good and bad applies to every situation. The good thing is that by sticking with the old familiar pattern we feel familiar, comfortable and safe. The bad thing is that we tend not to notice that everything is constantly changing – people; relationships; jobs; roads and traffic conditions; qualities of menus; standards of holiday destinations; and if we don’t review our awareness of these changes, we may find that our need for safety can breed a sort of ‘head-in-the-sand’ attitude. We can easily become complacent and dissatisfied, yet seemingly ‘stuck’.
That which used to inspire us; amuse us; entertain us; make us feel good, can all suddenly be up for review and like Walter the bloodhound in the story, we may feel unhappy with our lot in life – unhappy enough to bitch, whinge and whine about, but not unhappy enough to be motivated enough to break out of that comfort zone and do something about it.
So, if you now notice that you’ve allowed yourself to become stagnant and unresponsive, can you change that?
The answer is ‘Yes, absolutely – in three simple steps.”
- It begins with you taking time to reflect on things, to look within and to understand what you really want.
- You devise your strategies and action plans to create the life or the business that you really want.
- You put those action plans into effect.
I’m sure you’ll have heard of the old expression that we often ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’, I.e. the obvious thing we need to see is hidden because it’s hiding right in front of us and is too obvious to be noticed. That’s why someone else can often surprise you with a question like, “Why can’t you see that, hear that or feel that?”
That’s often where I come in – as a coach I help people to figure out what they really want. I’m very good at that – I know because my clients tell me I am. I also help people, just like you, to devise effective strategies to make the changes that will get you the results you want. I’m on your side, part of your support team to inspire, encourage, cajole or even boot you up your backside (metaphorically) to follow through and make those possibly ‘uncomfortable’ changes – in other words, diffuse the pain of change.
I’ve kicked my own butt enough times to know that as the great Jim Rohn liked to say, “What’s easy to do is also easy NOT to do.”
If you think you might benefit from chatting with a good listener who can help you simplify the change your business and/or your life may need for the better, using my simple system, then feel free to contact me. If you’re not sure yet, feel free to follow my blogs or social media posts and check out some testimonials at www.clubred.com.au/about/testimonials
You can howl like Walter or you can take action to change things – the choice is yours!