Witnessing the Moment of Transformation
So many of us hear stories of change, but we rarely witness the moment of transformation firsthand. In corporate America, change is usually associated with something negative. Does the dreaded term “downsizing” or the phrase “going in a different direction” send shivers down your spine?
I’ve been there. I’ve heard those words first-hand. There’s nothing good about them. What I’m about to tell you is not your typical corporate change story. Recently, I observed a client training session. This training is not your typical “feel good for a day” training. Fun is introduced early on, with a dash of but-this-is-still-serious-business. This was an all-day training after all. From the beginning, people enjoyed the training. Laughing, joking, and clapping to the point that the meeting next door shhhh-ed us. This is where the room decided to exchange clapping for snapping to still show excitement. It was fun to see that the room was coming together over something seemingly so small.
More time went by in the training, nothing I hadn’t seen before, nothing out of the ordinary. However, had this been a movie, I would have been warned by the change in music that something major was about to take place. Everyone was talking and going over the default and inventive future concepts from The Three Laws of Performance. The Default Future is what you expect to have happen if nothing unexpected comes along. It is largely subconscious and driven by expectations and feelings (good and bad). The Invented Future is what you choose to have happen and make a plan to work toward regardless of expectations, feelings, actions, and external factors (again, both good and bad). This information was a little darker and harder to cover, but very much needed. They were honestly looking at something that effected everyone in the room. It impacted not just one person, but all of them from a C-suite member on down. This diverse group of forty plus people had no idea what was about to happen next, and neither did I.
To put it simply, it takes courage to speak to a room, but it takes bravery to speak for a room. At the beginning of the day, they used words to state that this room and this training “was a safe place.” But, they were just words. Then it happened. The statement was about to be tested. Not knowing the outcome, a participant asked to speak. She spoke of whispered conversations. She made direct eye contact and revealed the pain that so many in the room felt but didn’t have the words for. You could feel the warmth of support in the atmosphere as her voice cracked causing her to pause between the moments of speaking a hard truth. The respect she has for who she was speaking to was perfectly balanced with those she didn’t know she was speaking for. She spoke elegantly and from the heart.
People came into this training as individuals. Her openness and willingness to boldly test the safety of the room created a connection that reached them all. She was never alone, though her voice was the only one we heard. They stood together as a team, a family, to support her words and her courage.
When she was done, there was a lightness in the air. Some people were flushed while others had tears in their eyes. There was an immediate culture shift. This group, this one right here had silently decided in that moment to change how they were going to move forward. You could see this culture shift throughout the rest of day. These people had each other’s backs. These women and men decided to be the frontrunners for change within their company. They will be the benchmark that others will strive to be like. They left that room committed to leading transformation in the company.
We’ve all heard the quote “be the change you want to see.” We don’t realize that speaking words of truth can lead that change. She spoke. She changed the room. They listened. They were changed and committed to partnering with her to lead change. I witnessed, I was forever changed. It was magic. What magic can your words create? I hope you’ll share in the comments below.