Five Killer Filters Everyone Uses to Sabotage Change
America seems to be at a crossroads. Through my research and feedback from our clients, I have come to the conclusion that many of our citizens are skeptical about their future. For example, a recent survey indicates that 48% of America’s workers view themselves as “underemployed.” That number speaks directly to the number of people being kicked to the curb by change.
Since launching Inspired Work in 1990, I’ve observed people from all walks of life wrestle with the discomfort of self-change. Consider the possibility that change provokes all kinds of fears. I believe that one of our culture’s greatest challenges is that far too many people are seeking comfort rather than taking the very action that would change and improve their lives. This choice is driven by fear.
At an early age, all of us are given a toolkit that allows us to kill change before it has a chance to flourish. We use five Killer Filters that sabotage the entire topic of change. Now, that change is accelerating throughout the workplace, it is time to recognize the filters and set them aside. You will probably recognize each one.
Without further adieu:
This highly popular filter allows us to chip away and talk ourselves out of mission, vision and purpose. In our leadership work, we find that when an executive introduces a big change, many minds go directly to the reasons it won’t happen. Employees gather by the water cooler and complain. We also see cynicism crop up in career development all of the time in narratives such as, “No one make a living doing that.” Or, “Get real.”
This is the distilled version of cynicism. The purpose of contempt is to kill the idea on the spot. In an organizational setting, a dominant member of the tribe is often appointed to get out there and actually “kill the messenger.” Contempt is cynicism mixed with emotional violence. The use of contempt will often ends any internal or external dialogues about positive change in one instant. Contempt usually means someone is especially confronted and frightened about changing their lives.
This is the “life without vision” filter. It’s easy to get caught up in this one (well, all of them are easy to get into). We simply settle into the routine. We clock in and clock out. Life ticks by.
It is the “anyone but me” defense. I’m too old, too young, too soon, too fat, to late, to foolish, a woman, a man, the list continues.
Welcome to the new trance! Yesterday, we drove a hundred miles to meet with a colleague. I was the passenger and as drove through fast-moving and heavy LA traffic, I watched people texting, yelling at the kids and not looking ahead. Every day, I have to jump or call out to someone as they hurriedly walk towards me without looking up. We have become such a frenzied culture that millions of people respond to the idea of improving their lives with the notion, “I don’t have time.”
How do we break through the filters? Recognize them! The Killer Filters lose power when we become aware of them and point them out. The Killer Filters live in the dark but disappear in the light.
Change is happening all around us. But the real opportunity is in self-change and that almost always provokes various forms of fear. Consequently, all of us ought to be vigilant and recognize that when a Killer Filter shows up, it ain’t necessary the truth.
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