What Are You Resisting?

I had the great pleasure recently of hearing my 92-year old father share his happiness about relocating from his home in Florida to assisted living in Boston — a move that he adamantly resisted for years. The shift from living in relative isolation to a communal setting near family has brought wonderful reinvigoration he never anticipated at this stage of life.

I’m reminded of many coaching clients who have found the courage to face unwanted change, entering new territory outside their comfort zone. One client, whom I’ll call Sarah, sets an inspiring example. As a well-respected leader of a technology team, Sarah was most comfortable working behind the scenes to support her group’s performance. When a reorganization broadened Sarah’s role, she was charged with strengthening partnerships with leaders outside her region — senior executives whom Sarah had never met. Fortunately, she was offered coaching to support her success.

In coaching, Sarah realized that her own resistance was her greatest obstacle. As an introvert who had little experience working with senior leaders, Sarah doubted she had the skills, let alone the self-confidence to build partnerships at that level. She also discovered how much she feared failure — an inner challenge that had prevented her from pursuing many opportunities over the years. Through coaching, Sarah learned how to make friends with this fear and to move forward in her own unique way. She developed a step-by-step strategy to expand her existing network across, then up, one relationship at a time. It took courage and commitment to pursue this path, but Sarah is very pleased with the outcome: greater influence over the business and increased self-confidence. Her biggest surprise: how much she enjoyed building relationships with the senior leaders — an activity that she’d dreaded!

Examples like Sarah’s reveal an amazing paradox:

Surrendering to what we most resist often yields what we long for.

As we enter the new year, I encourage you to reflect on the following types of questions:

  • Is there a change that you find yourself resisting?
  • What are the potential consequences of continuing to resist?
  • What benefits could result from moving forward?
  • Could embracing this change create progress toward something you desire?
  • What could help you to feel more comfortable and/or positive about this change?

Reflection on questions like these can help to melt resistance, particularly if you feel stuck. It sometimes helps to discuss the questions with a trusted colleague — someone who knows you well enough to inform your inquiry in a supportive way. May the year ahead bring you wonderful new changes as well as everything you need to embrace them!