Innovation: No pain, no gain?

Bumper stickers, cubicle walls, and email footnotes are just some of the places you might see clichés such as:

  • no pain, no gain
  • nothing worth having comes easy
  • tough it out, you!

And I wonder, these sayings are either the work of an athletic coach, or… someone who cares about real, sustained change.

Perhaps they are one in the same.

Up and down your organization you will find people with different tolerance levels for pain. They will recognize it somewhere along the scale from an unnecessary evil to a requirement for growth and renewal.

Some say “bring on the change!”, and others hide under their desk. Left under our own devices, how many of us would willingly seek out and go after change if we knew how hard it would be?

Leading through change means recognizing that yes, there will be pain. Instead of ignoring it, we can help navigate others through it by asking “where is this coming from?”, and “why?”.

Two lessons from Improvisation comes to mind when thinking about leading through change: commitment and trusting instincts.

When we embrace change as a practice, we learn to recognize the good pain from the bad pain. Ignoring the bad pain in favor of commitment doesn’t do anyone any favors.  We don’t have to be the “change” hero that results in a broken leg or worse.

But when we see the momentum moving in the right direction, the aches and pains that comes with all things new, can, under the right guidance and mental know-how, remind us that it’s all in the name of, you guessed it… the game.


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