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Posted by on Apr 7, 2010

Development and the Dripping Faucet

If you’ve been a homeowner for some time, you have probably experienced the following phenomenon: You see a faucet slowly dripping, think “big deal” and then get the surprise water bill at the end of the month.

What does this have to do with development?

Participants in leadership development often struggle with application. They “get” the content, see the possibilities for change . . . and then get stuck in application. They go back to old habits; fail to break new ground.

There are powerful reinforcers for this. For one thing, the brain likes to keep things in patterns and habits. It conserves energy that way. Change is hard, mentally.

But one way to think about, and act on, development goals is to pick just one thing – this creates focus rather than the confusion of many goals – and then use the power of time.

The power of time is what’s behind your water bill, and it can be turned to your advantage in working on a new behavior, whether it’s listening more, speaking up when you need to, remaining calm in conflict, or anything else.

The point is this: if you keep taking steady, even modest, small steps in the direction you want, over time you will find yourself building capability and competence. The sheer force of time, and repetition of what you want, almost guarantees you’re going to create an impact.

Of course, you need reflection and feedback along the way – subjects of other posts – but if you stick with something that has real focus and definition – and let this occur over an extended period of time, you’re going to be in a different place.

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