Changing by shadow boxing

When we're being idealistic, we have a shadow that is cynical. When we are full of pride, our shadow is disgraceful. When we think we've got the right answer, our shadow is loaded with how wrong we actually are. When we confident in the status quo, our shadow will shatter our confidence with unwelcome changes.

In response to my comment yesterday on Steve Roesler's post:Change and "Hurry Sickness at Work, Steve asked me:
While reading your piece, it occurred to me how much time is often needed to allow people to bargain--or "shadow box"--until their emotional arms get tired. It's at that point that they become ready to move on and re-think their position. Do you find a similar dynamic during your work?
I rarely find my clients getting talked out. Their need to get validation seems insatiable. However, the process does look like shadow boxing to me. When their shadow wins the fight, both sides can be right. There's a resolution by losing any positional stance and embracing the missing half.

When the end of the fight is near, we discover how to let go of our opposition to our opponents. We realize we are looking in a mirror at a reflection of our antagonistic outlook. We comprehend how we're seeing what we're being. We are really looking at a picture of where we're coming from and how we're relating to unacceptable differences. We uncover new choices to change our perceptions, filter reality differently and put a different spin on the evidence.

I help unhappy campers get to the end of the fight sooner by complicating their positional stance against their shadow. Rather than make them wrong, resist their resistance or oppose their opposition, it works for me to interject comments like:
  • I see you're side of the story now that you've made that perfectly clear. I wonder how this looks on the back side?
  • You've got the evidence well defined. I wonder what's hidden from view here?
  • You're right that this issue is at stake. Have you noticed how this issue is not always the same every time?
  • You've got to see things your way until you're faced with an alternative that does not make you wrong. I wonder when that might come along?
These comments "get out of their face and into their corner". They open closed minds with my open mind rather than bringing my closed mind to the mirror. These comments also make their shadow palatable and accessible to them. Shadows show up as unacceptable, intolerable and threatening. They are argued against on the basis of the fortified, self-righteous stance. There's no way to see good in them because they are obviously bad.

When our shadow wins any fight, it's a humbling experience. In hindsight, we we're being conceited, arrogant, obnoxious or omnipotent. When we bite the dust or get off our high horse, our hot button has been pushed. We lose our confidence, composure and comprehension of the situation. We're feeling shattered, betrayed and disoriented.

This is no time to kick start another change, insist on their rethinking or impose more pressure. We already have ignition and liftoff. The self-organizing process will do the rest. Change and stability then go hand and hand. The opponents comprise valuable diversity and essential components. The two right answers are two sides of one coin. The dilemma is really a paradox.

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