The impacts of bad behavior compound over time. I was recently in discussions with an organization that was trying to address a legacy of bad behavior. We’re talking over 20 years of bad behavior. And guess what? There were zero easy solutions for this group, and the scope of work it was going to take to start to solve their issues was comprehensive. The amount of time needed to invest in this group was significant, and frankly, it wasn’t going to come cheap, either.

But it was going to be worth it.

The first barrier in these situations is often: Where do we even start? This always makes me think about my garage. I’m a big fan of the 3 B’s technique when facing a to-do list item that is less than appealing. First question is to ask, can I bag this? Meaning: do I even really need to do this at all? Second question is, if I can’t or don’t want to bag this, could I barter it instead? Meaning: can I trade services, tasks, or even money for someone else to take this task on? Third question is, if I can’t or don’t want to bag this or barter this, how can I better it instead? Meaning: if I’m going to take on this task anyway, what can I do to improve this experience? In the instance of my garage, I’ve been bagging this task for…well, if I’m being totally honest, close to 5 years now. It’s gone from not-so-great to truly terrifying. Whenever we had to open the garage door, I would beg my partner to close it as quickly as possible so the neighbors or even random strangers driving down the street wouldn’t see the disaster that lay within.

I wasn’t sure where to even start. The problem had compounded over time to the point where I couldn’t walk easily all the way through the space, see how to make meaningful progress, and couldn’t determine a starting point. See, I often get tripped up in wanting to have a clearly identifiable, measurable plan of approach that has an evident plan of action that will predictably lead to my desired results. As much as this capability is a superpower of mine, it’s also something that can prevent forward momentum.

Sometimes, we just need to start somewhere.

In my case, I started with the top of the washing machine. I’m not proud of it, but it had become a repository for drops of laundry detergent that were now collecting dust and dead moths. Lint balls, an old penny, and one of my daughter’s barrettes that had unintentionally gone through a wash cycle rounded out the collection. I wasn’t ready to do much more, but I was ready to start with this space. It didn’t make the largest dent in the overall magnitude of the project, but it was something. And that little something gave me the tiniest sliver of hope that the rest of the project was something I could tackle.

For the group I was talking to that had the legacy of bad behavior, they aren’t going to address 20 years of bad behavior in one interaction. There’s not a single training, a single conversation, a single presentation that can fix that. But they have to start somewhere.

And once it’s begun, the momentum has an opportunity to build. So if you’re stuck facing a situation that seems insurmountable, maybe instead of crafting the ultimate master plan and waiting until the perfect time to execute it thoroughly, you simply get started. Somewhere. And let it build from there.

- Nicole



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