What Has Been Seen Cannot be Unseen

I’ve always been a messy person. Crumbs on floors, scuffs on shoes, smudges on windows — these things don’t bother me. And for years I have lived in peace with my mess. Then two weeks ago my wife had the cataracts removed from her eyes.

At first I was delighted when I heard her comment enthusiastically “Look at that!” But now I cringe, because I no longer get away with coffee grinds on the bench or finger marks on the bathroom mirror. Even my dog, Leo (pictured), has had to stop leaving his stuff laying around. Leo and I initially looked at each other in dismay, but we are now reconciled to the fact that our lives have changed forever under the mistress’s watchful new eyes.

Photograph of Leo the dog.

The case of our newly enlightened household is a reminder that the gift of seeing things in a fresh way always comes with a cost. The price we pay is the realization that things are going to have to change. And if we choose to deny what we have learned or seen, the price goes through the roof. Because people who hold on to the past, or ignore what they know needs to change, often end up losing the very thing they value.

This occurs not just in business, but also at the personal level. Perhaps it is realizing that our bad habits are turning others against us, or that our business is losing its relevance to our customers. Yes, new knowledge and fresh insights always come at a cost, and that cost is the pain of change. Change hurts because it involves effort. We have to give up those easy old habits and learn new ways of thinking and doing things. We also have to let go of our attachment to our past successes and the way things were. In other words, we have to come to terms with loss.

The many faces of loss

Loss comes in many guises. There can be loss of certainty if we shift from an environment that was stable and predictable. A loss of status, or valued relationships, if we move from a position where we were well recognized and respected. Or a loss of convenience or money if we decide to change our business systems. A simple but powerful way to come to terms with change, is to acknowledge the loss that is linked to the change. Ask yourself, “What do I now have less of that I previously valued?” Naming and facing up to this loss reminds us that we have a choice on how we deal with the situation. This gets our brains working more creatively and is likely to produce the mental breakthrough we need to accept and adjust to our new circumstances.

Is there something you have recently learned about yourself, your business, or your life that has signalled a need for change? Have you admitted to yourself what you feel uncomfortable about, or what you are hanging onto? Are you able to name what you will now have less of? And most importantly, are you willing to put in the work to adjust to your new circumstances?

Back to my home situation, there’s been an interesting twist. The very same day my wife acquired her super vision, I lost my driver’s license, a result of numerous small speeding fines over the past 12 months. Ann had been warning me of these fines and that I needed to pay more attention to my driving, as the speed limit in our local neighbourhood had gone from 60kph to 40kph. But I was in denial about the risk and clearly hadn’t learned my lesson.

So I have lost the privilege of driving for the next six months. Now while she gets to tell me what needs to be done to clean up the house, I get to back seat drive as she chauffeurs me around. And because I can’t do those small errands anymore, Leo and I get to hang out together a bit more. It’s a cool reminder that while change hurts, it often also has its positives.

Speaking of positives, the Franchise Relationships Institute has just released its 2018 Positive Franchising Educational Program, which contains 10 strategies to practise positive franchising. If you haven’t received the brochure you can download a free copy here.

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