How long?

How long will it take?

That’s the point in the conversation when it becomes painfully obvious, to me, at least, that the person in front of me truly isn’t ready to initiate change in her/his life. That’s the point when I realize the person in front of me is looking for the quick fix, the easy out — you know, the path that won’t take him/her out of her comfort zone. Because while this person recognizes something isn’t working in his/her life, and is aware of the lack of congruence — even if he/she cannot articulate it as such — she/he is not uncomfortable enough, yet, to make a change.

One of my mentors shared a story with me a few years ago, when we were talking about pursuing dreams. He said he often stops by the Rosetta Stone kiosk in an airport he frequently flies thru, and considers purchasing a module. But, then he finds himself tempted to ask the salesperson how long it will take to learn the language, and mid-way through that thought, he knows he’s not passionate enough about it to give it what it would require to succeed. He thinks of it as negotiating terms and pursuing dreams doesn’t work that way.

It’s a similar principle with prospective clients who understand something isn’t working in their life, their organization, within their team, and they know they need to do something different. If I believe I have value to add and a potential solution, I offer it, and then we have what I think of as the (no disrespect intended in any way, shape, or form) “come to Jesus” moment: What are you willing to do differently to initiate and see this change through?

What are you willing to do differently to initiate and see this change through?

And when the person asks, “How long will it take?” I know the conversation is done and all that’s left is the pleasantries (well, to be fair, I’m typically direct about what will happen if they don’t take action)  as I prepare to leave the meeting.

Here’s the deal: Whatever shape your life, team, organization is in, you didn’t just arrive there this morning; you developed the habits and behaviors and embedded the thinking that have all conspired to get you to where you are today over the course of many (MANY!) years. Unlearning those habits, challenging those beliefs, and changing one’s thinking will not happen overnight (even if I do have my magic wand with me!). It takes time; sometimes more and sometimes less, depending on the level of discomfort, desire to change, willingness to challenge thinking and beliefs, willingness to rock the boat, even.

Whether I say it will take six months, twelve months, or longer, consider this: That time will pass either way, whether you do the work or not; it’s inevitable. The choice is yours: Will you step out of your comfort zone, take the action, and work through the process? Or will you simply be another six months or a year older, and still living in the same proverbial place?

What will you decide?