January 22, 2014

Resolutions or Evolutions?

evolutionA friend recently asked me if I made New Year’s resolutions. I don’t.  But after thinking about it awhile, I realized that I do make decisions throughout the year, which are like resolutions. I’ve always seen these decisions as choices to grow, to evolve.  For instance: in September, I read an article that said men over 60 years of age should do resistance weight training to counteract the effect of muscle loss that occurs in the aging process. I took that advice and started working out on the weight machines at my gym.

Shortly after adding resistance weight training to my gym workouts, I was horsing around with my 19- month-old granddaughter. She weighed 25 pounds at that time. She likes it when I lift her up over my head and swing her around. After ten minutes of playing with her, I doubled down on my commitment to get stronger with resistance weight training. I now had a compelling reason to stick to my “resolution”!

As I get older and wiser, I like to think that I keep evolving.  I want to keep evolving how I think, what I believe, and how I behave. Growing is all about change.  Sometimes we are changed by external circumstances, but the more important and interesting changes are those that come about from a heightened degree of self-awareness.  That’s where we really evolve.

Your Evolution Stories

Think about the changes you have initiated in your life, and why.  What was the external factor associated with that change?  What was the increased self-awareness that put the resolve into that change?  Personal changes can be great subject matter for inspiring stories to include in your presentations.  And remember, the story is about more than that particular change; it is also about the process of change, itself, and the metaphor that is represented by the change you chose.

Questions to Ponder:

Here are a list of questions to ponder and and actions to consider as you set out to make 2014 your best year yet. I call them New Year’s Evolutions, because if you don’t evolve, you can resolve all you want and still not get anywhere.  Consider, where in your life, you need to move, remove and improve.

Is there a story embedded in the change you need to make?  Also, think back on past times when you have moved, removed or improved in your life.  Do these past experiences carry the seeds of stories that you want to develop this year?

Move   

Twice in my life I have chosen to make a major move from one city to another. At 22, I moved from Chicago to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. At 35, when I accepted the reality that I was doing more carpentry and taxi-driving than acting, I moved from Los Angeles to Colorado Springs. Those two physical moves paralleled foundational moves in my life’s journey. In both cases, it took honesty to recognize that the place I was in was no longer serving my needs; and it took courage to do something about it. After each move, I discovered things about myself and my ability to evolve and adapt that I couldn’t have learned any other way.

Is it time for you to make a life-changing move?

  • From one city or state or country to another?
  • From one job or career to another?
  • From one relationship to another?

Remove

I grew up in a pretty dysfunctional family, where speaking the truth got you in trouble and admitting you were wrong was a sign of weakness. As a child, I didn’t know that this was wrong, or that there was any other way to be.  I’ve since discovered that my family story is not unusual, and many children grow up with similar, unhealthy messages.  At one point in my adult life, I decided to remove those old messages and not let them dictate my behavior.  Are there old, outdated messages – old tapes – still playing in your head? Is it time to remove them from their position of influence in your life?

It is no surprise to me that the friends that end up in my inner circle are people who continue to learn, grow and evolve. They share my passion for self-evaluation and improvement. I notice that the people who don’t share my passion for self-evaluation, just don’t ever become close friends.

With both of my cross-country moves, I left behind some very good people – some very good friends. I also left behind some people that I didn’t want in my life anymore.  When you evolve, not everyone evolves with you. Some relationships just dissipate on their own, and other relationships are ended by conscious choices.  What I have discovered, is that as certain relationships are ended, I always meet new people who share my dreams, values and aspirations. People just show up!

Think of it this way: you get to choose who you want on your team. Choose your team members wisely. Remove them if they no longer fit.  Perhaps there is someone who’s been on your team from year to year, but who you no longer serve, and they no longer contribute to your life.  Maybe that relationship isn’t worthy of the time and energy for either of you. Remove them from your roster. Do it now or do it later. It’s your team.

Improve

I dropped out of college after my first year, but I didn’t stop taking classes!  I’ve studied acting, dance, singing, carpentry, broadcasting, real estate, speaking, publishing, writing, and lately, running.

For many people, when you decide to start running to get in shape, it begins with a jog in the park. And then it evolves into wanting to run a 5K; and then a 10K; and then a half-marathon. You don’t need to know much about running to run a 5K. It’s only 3.1 miles. But when you start to take running seriously – in my case when I decided to run a half-marathon – you have to learn to be a runner.

At first, I thought running was just about running. But I wanted to improve my experience and success as a runner, so I studied. I learned about nutrition, how muscles metabolized energy, how different clothing fabrics worked in different weather conditions, how different shoes help or hinder your performance, etc., etc.  As I studied and learned, my experience with running improved.

I used to think that writing a book was about writing, and that being a speaker was about speaking. In each case, my desire to improve led me to discover that there was much more to each endeavor than I initially thought.

If you want to experience New Year’s Evolutions, you have to dig deeper, push harder and go further. You have to be willing to make difficult decisions. You have to be willing, as I have learned in often painful ways, to let go.

  • If you want to move forward, you may have to let go of where you are, and move.
  • If you want to move forward, you may have to let go of some toxic beliefs or toxic people, and remove.
  • If you want to move forward, you may have to let go of what you think you know, and improve.

My wish for you in 2014 is that you choose self-investigation, self-awareness and self-discovery so that you continue to evolve.  Move, remove and improve – and create amazing stories along the way!

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Doug Stevenson works with individuals and organizations to help them choose, craft and deliver compelling speeches, presentations and stories. He is the president of Story Theater International, is the creator of The Story Theater Method and the author of the book, Doug Stevenson’s Story Theater Method and The Dynamite Speech System.

Join Doug’s “Storytelling in Business” discussion group on LinkedIn

His keynote speaking, corporate training and executive coaching clients include Aetna, Abbott Labs, Amgen, Coca Cola, Compassion International, Deloitte, Hewlett Packard, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Oracle, Volkswagen, The Nickelodeon Channel, The Department of Defense, The National Education Association and many more.

To inquire about Doug’s availability email: deborah@dougstevenson.com

Doug can be reached at 1-800-573-6196 or 1-719-573-6195. Learn more about how Doug can help you tell your story, purchase the book, eBook or Story Theater audio six pack, and sign-up for the free Story Theater newsletter at:  www.storytelling-in-business.com.

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