Not often that taking the lint out of the dryer filter stops you in your tracks and starts a thought process that ends up connecting successful change to a passion for something--but last laundry day it did.
It started when I realized that I had paused and was intently examining the lint I had just removed for the purity and consistency of its color. (A nice rosy red if you must know.) It took me a minute to realize what I was doing, ask myself why I was doing it, and remember an unusual story on CBS Sunday Morning several months ago about a woman who created works of art using dryer lint as her medium. At the time I saw the segment, I was amused at her passion for creating and blending lint in order to get the perfect effect for her pictures. (Would they be called Lintings?) Yet, here I was, stopping in the middle of a busy day, grading the quality of my lint. Trust me, I had no intention of joining her in this offbeat endeavor, the lint ended in the garbage, and as I walked back to my desk, I thought of how her passion for her brand of art had captured a small part of my mind. Reminded me of Mr. Turban’s math classes in high school.
I got straight As in my high school math classes and considered majoring in math in college until, that is, I ran smack dab into college level Calculus. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that my passion for math was a subset of Mr. Turban’s passion for math. Take him out of the equation and my interest and to a great extent, my ability failed. Unless a passion for math, or lint for that matter, is YOUR passion, your willingness to persevere doesn’t stick around for long.
Successful change requires a feeling of passion to get you though the tough parts. Often the person who initiates the change has the passion; the people who are expected to carry out the change only have passion on loan or by association. To make your change successful, each participant needs to find their own passionate connection to the change. I haven’t seen many Change Initiative Planning Sessions with this topic on the agenda.
So, if you’re leading change, you need to help all the participants find a reason to feel passionate about the change. It could be the eventual outcome, the on-going process, or the opportunity for learning. Doesn’t matter what so much as it matters that it is identified and nurtured.