Throughout the duration of my professional career, I have found myself operating against the grain, going “outside the norm,” or simply doing things unlike the “way things have always been done.” For a long time, I just thought I was difficult (and some might add bossy here as well), but what I have come to realize and embrace is my desire to “trailblaze” and “trendset.”
Operating as a trailblazer is not only about doing things differently under the radar, but also about — and this is where the friction comes in — challenging others within your organizational setting to evaluate the way they go about doing things to consider a new modus operandi. What is challenging about being a trailblazer is that Paradigm Change is Hard Work.
Paradigm Change is Hard Work because it involves change and more often than not people are uncomfortable with change. Before you get to the “change” part, you have to engage in the activity of self-evaluation and self-reflection. We live in a society that is not oriented toward either of those two activities, therefore, to challenge others to engage in self-evaluation and self-reflection is counter-cultural, hence: Trailblazing Act No. 1.
Trailblazing Act No. 2: Changing Behavior. For those of you who know anything about the Principles of Persuasion, you know that changing behavior can be accomplished the easiest. If you can persuade someone to change their behavior, there is more potential that they will become invested in the paradigm shift you’re working towards. What the Principles of Persuasion also tell us is that people will engage in perfunctory activities with no intention of ever changing their attitudes or beliefs or:
Changing hearts and minds or Trailblazing Act No. 3 This is the most difficult aspect of paradigm shifting work. Persuading others to think and potentially feel differently about a change in status quo takes time, dedication, strategic partnerships, and collaborative relationships to facilitate such movement. I believe it can be done! I also believe that the benefits of trendsetting people are only truly understood once they have moved on to their next endeavor.
So, the next time you encounter an innovative, creative, and ambitious person looking to make things better, greater, more effective, more engaging…or simply just MORE — try embracing that difference in thought, action, deed and character rather than shutting it down. Consider the new perspectives, insights, and goals that can be accomplished with the incorporation of fresh ideas.
Remember: Paradigm Change is Hard Work for everyone involved, but necessary to stay in — and ahead — of the game.