Microsoft is in the process of putting out new software for all of us. As I considered the sorry state of the current software I am working with, I got kind of excited about the possibility of upgrading to something that serves me better. My computer itself is just fine. My ability to use it effectively to its full capacity is limited though, primarily because I haven’t put in the effort to learn how to use what is already loaded on to it. Perhaps Windows 10 will be my opportunity to learn how to use the tools available to me more fully. Yikes! That feels incredibly scary to me all of a sudden. As I think my beginner status when it comes to technology, my ignorance will be immediately revealed… and, I bet things will be in new locations, making it harder for me to navigate initially…and, I already can manage sort of well with the old software I am using – at least it’s familiar.
How quickly the fear of moving into the unknown can derail the very best intentions and desires!
This got me thinking about hardware and software as a metaphor for us humans. How often do we hear people say, “That’s just the way I am.” (in computer terms, that’s the way I know how to do it) or “I can’t go to that event, I am just no good at talking to strangers.” (What happens if I go down this path with this software program and can’t get back to where I am comfortable?) or “I know I am too direct some time but that’s just the way I talk.” (this is how I learned to communicate)
For whatever reason, we seem to believe that we are hardwired to behave in a certain way and change is not possible. But, if we look at how we move through life, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, we are all born with a unique brain and genes, which provide a framework for what might be possible for us. Lucky for us humans though, we have evolved some software that allows us to have access to an expansive repertoire of possible responses to any given situation. Based on ‘what came with the package’ (what we were born with), are some shifts in behavior more likely than others,? Of course. Does our environment influence our view of the choices we can make at any given moment? You bet!
The amazing thing about us however, is our ability to adapt to the circumstances that come our way. When big events happen, overwhelming change in behavior can and often does occur. Think about a time when a significant thing happened in your life. I will always bring to mind the death of my father at age 50, when I was just 22. It was like a tornado lifted me up and set me on a totally different life path than the one I thought I was going to travel on. It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized that I had recalibrated the way I was moving about in the world in order to live well in this new reality. I had upgraded my software!
Most of us are confronted with opportunities to train our thinking and behavior in little, incremental ways every day. Maybe you make the decision to take the stairs two floors to your office instead of the elevator, which had been your pattern for the last decade. The first few weeks that you walk in to your building, your inclination will be to head in the direction of the elevator. But after a month of taking the stairs, you realize you haven’t gone near the elevator in a while. You’d made the shift! This is much like what happens with your cell phone when you are texting. The more you type a certain word, the easier it is for the phone to automatically offer that word to you the next time, when you are only two letters in to typing it. It’s learning from your patterns and habits.
Is there a software upgrade that you need to make, in order to live your life more fully? If the answer is ‘yes’ and you’re not taking action to do it, what’s holding you back? Is there a story you are telling yourself that sounds similar to mine related to my computer? Shift that, and take a first step. You’ll me amazed at what you can do!