Habits and Internal Drive

December 2, 2012 § 3 Comments

As I sat peacefully on the warm sands of North Myrtle beach, my eyes fixed on the behaviors of the birds. Just offshore I noticed large flocks riding the warm air current southwards. They swooped and swerved in an orderly and carefree manner. The force of the air stream carried them along at a pretty good clip. In terms of birds, all I know is something inside of them triggers the flock to habitually migrate south in the winter. So what happens when a handful defy their instincts?

There were these three birds. They looked to be from the same flock, but instead of heading south with the rest of the bird tribe, they were flying against the wind. Their heads were bowed low against the force coming at them, their wings moved with slow, determined, deliberate purpose. For minutes, it appeared all the strength they exerted moved them nowhere. They were flying in place, making limited forward progress.

In my quest to change the world of work, that’s how it feels to me some days. Like I’m flapping my wings against strong headwinds, and making little progress. But there is a strong internal drive forcing me to fly in a different direction from the flock. And I am committed to my journey.

I recently hosted an event for a local group of HR leaders. While the intent of the group is to support innovation in the field of HR, what I experienced that morning was more of the same habitual “flying with the current” dialogue. The concept being presented was interesting, yet the underlying assumptions were same-old-same-old. At some point I couldn’t sit quiet anymore and, without being too disruptive, offered another perspective.

The room tensed. What was this? A new member of the flock making a u-turn and flying against the current? I understand how hard to can be to give voice to alternative, perhaps controversial, perspective. Yet without doing so, nothing will change. Each time we find the strength to constructively add our voice, it is an opportunity for forward progress.

What’s of particular note is what happened following the event. My inbox was flooded with messages from peers who expressed gratitude for an alternative way of thinking and a outpouring of offers to connect and extend the conversation. The flock is questioning it’s habits.

And so I continue my upstream flight against strong headwinds. And I welcome my new friends to the tribe.

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