I would like to extol the benefits of stepping away from situations that no longer create value for yourself, others and the world.
When I and my associates work with schools, communities, organisations and individuals using The Butterfly Model process much time is invested in making sure the initial conditions are right. We use the same simple stages:
1. Clarify the purpose and generate some shared passion for the the journey that lies ahead.
2. We make sure that we all understand our roles, responsibilities and rewards before time, effort and resources are invested.
3. We then shape the basic plan. Timeline, activities, resources needed etc.
4. Only then do we take action. We begin the journey and make sure that everyone is one board.
5. We make sure that there are systems and time to evaluate the impact of our actions on ourselves, others and the wider world (school, business, community etc) and adapt and adjust as necessary. We then re-plan, re-act and re-evaluate as often as need be to achieve our goal.
6. At the end of the program (usually three months) we have sufficient experience, data and evidence of impact to embed those changes that are working and plan for the next challenge.
This looks a simple enough process (because it is) but each of those stages require different competences but all require the five principles of value creation to be in consciously in play:
- Be open
- Be kind
- Be consistent
- Be the change
This is where, for some people and groups, being consistently challenged to engage in daily purposeful disruption: to reflect and renew in a responsive, self-organising, mature way; proves too much and they disengage.
They may do this consciously by acknowledging the challenge is too much or by subconsciously holding onto a fixed mindset that ‘this is just the way things are’. Either way they will disengage in a myriad different ways. They will not contribute to discussion or share ideas and insights. They may be privately and maliciously become more vocal in their criticism about others (not often themselves). They might be more direct and be outwardly damning. Whatever the mode of displaying intransigence the outcome is the same. They do not want to, and will not, move their thinking and behaviour. At this point you might want to consider if it’s time to just walk away. Or inviting them to.
When I and my associates work using The Butterfly Model processes our aim is to make ourselves redundant as quickly as possible. Hence our focusing on three month chunks of work. At the end of three months we will arrive at three possible states which all have the potential for us to walk away.
A: Those who have been on the journey are on board and ready to move to the next level of challenge and complexity independently. In which case we either stay to assist (if invited to do so) or we walk away happy that the foundations for growth and self-organisation have been laid.
B: The level of anxiety and resistance to embrace the emerging realities by key parties in the group mean that change is unlikely to be sustained and we walk away having at least stimulated debate and have provided the framework and resources for change and growth at a later stage. I have often been requested to return to teams once a particular individual has moved on. It can be just one person that makes the difference to growth or decline.
C: We accept that too many of the key players in the system are too closed, and nowhere near to opening up, and we walk away.
I’m pleased to say that in the vast majority of cases option ‘A’ prevails and the journey that follows is transformative and deeply engaging for all involved. However, part of being clear in a process and open to the challenge is knowing that sometimes you have to just let things go.
Up until recently, when I had to manage the ‘B’ or ‘C’ option I found it upsetting, frustrating and a bit of a blow to my confidence. No-one likes to invest time and effort working on building relationships of value only to discover that the conditions for the creation of something truly wonderful, complex and worthwhile were, for others, merely words, ideas and wishful thinking. However, I have, through the application of the same basic principles we use in our programmes, attained a more accepting and dispassionate response when things and people don’t live up to my own, often unreasonably high, expectations.
It’s never easy to admit that things aren’t working. But the honesty in doing so is in fact an essential part of being open with yourself and others and will create the conditions to satisfy our core needs to question, build relationships of value, become resilient in the face of constant change and to see the results of our efforts. Also, from a purely practical perspective it’s foolish and dangerous to invest more time and resources, talent and love in an alliance that is no longer aligned.
So, is there some part of your life, personally or professionally, that requires you to manifest the courage, compassion, life-force and energy to stop, turn around and just walk away?
If you would like some help in either staying where you are or walking away please contact us.