The other day I was watching a team of young men adjust a dock on Table Rock Lake, near Branson, MO, amidst high winds. Having arrived by water like a team of freshwater pirates, they appeared fully equipped to take on the challenge. One of the anchors holding the dock in place, had, during a high water stage last year, dragged along the lake bottom and wound up under the floats. This watery dilemma had rendered the owners ability to pull the dock in an out useless. A truly “no Bueno” situation for most lake dwellers. Given the water level fluctuations, especially on Table Rock, you can either be left high and dry or gazing forlornly at your unreachable dock from the shore. Both scenarios can put a real damper on your pocketbook.
The men worked silently, cohesively – a grizzled group of synchronized swimmers is the image that came to mind. Sporting much more facial hair than your typical bathing beauties, nonetheless these guys were gorgeous in their own right. I couldn’t possibly grasp how in the world they were going to move a two ton block of concrete from under a dock back to its original resting place, in the middle of a 125 foot deep cove.
Turned out, I needn’t have worried. These bearded beauties had it going on. They moved back and forth along the dock, twisting, cranking, coaxing the structure to one desired location, only to change its position moments later. Water ballet of a different sort – a familiar dance that had been intentionally choreographed for success – for change. That happening, aside from being super cool to watch, fueled some thoughts. This wasn’t any different than anything else we experience in life – change is necessary. Sure, it didn’t look easy. I can only imagine what those freshwater pirates thought as came gliding into the cove. Yet, they had a clear had direction from the moment they set out that morning. So, not only did they know where to start, they knew where they were going, too. With those pieces, in place, things are looking good, right? They sure are – yet the saga of the wayward dock anchor would never have changed if the not so salty swashbucklers hadn’t been up to the challenge.
At first, their pushing, pulling, prodding and prying efforts seemed to be doing nothing. It wasn’t looking good…at all! The dock floated away from them at several points. Time and time again the wind thwarted their efforts to move the anchor, pushing the entire structure up against the shore multiple times, stranding the floats in the shallows. But they persevered. Even when all looked lost they kept at it, using their boat to counteract the wind that was shoving them, the dock and their barge around like toys. They didn’t give up. They overcame, and successfully changed the location of a 4000 pound piece of concrete.
That’s how you move two tons. That’s how an ant moves a rubber tree plant. That’s how you affect change. With it, you can move docks and mountains!
Know the 3 Requirements of Change Efforts
Setting a new direction, changing behavior, or transforming a culture is never easy. Before you start down the road of change, know three of the things you’ll need on your journey:
- A clear destination. Many change programs fail because not everyone understands where they are headed. Be clear up front with everyone who needs to change about what the end point looks like.
- A starting point. Big goals are intimidating and sometimes paralyzing. Get started by taking small steps toward your goal. Momentum will build.
- Persistence. Most change efforts look like they will fail at some point, usually in the middle. Don’t give up prematurely. Find a way around obstacles, make necessary alterations, and keep going.