The moment to change is one of the trickiest defining moments discussed in 7 Moments… that Define Excellent Leaders.

Trees grow up through their branches, down through their roots and grow wider with each passing year. As growth occurs, trees eventually shed their protective bark to make way for growth. Humans are the same way.

Just as trees need bark as a protective shield while growth occurs, we as humans need boundaries to defend our vulnerabilities as our potential unfolds… but our ongoing growth depends on our ability to shed this “bark” of protection when it is no longer needed. In some cases, an inability to shed this bark will constrict our ability to realize our full potential.

But unlike trees, which shed their bark automatically, we have to determine the right time to adjust our boundaries, to “shed” these protective devices in order to create the space we need to reach the next level. As my friend Byrd Baggett says, “You must let go to grow.”

Letting go of old habits isn’t easy. We must periodically take the time to question our boundaries and to ask ourselves if it is time to soften our defenses and expand these boundaries or do we continue to need this protection.

That said, the forces for the status quo are great. Initiating our own changes is definitely easier said than done. The following historical quotes help illustrate the forces of resistance that still abound today. All of these people said it couldn’t be done:

  • “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”   – Charles H. Duell, Director of the U.S. Patent Office, 1899
  •  “Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” – Lord Kelvin, President, Royal Society, 1895
  • “Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote.” – Grover Cleveland, U.S. President, 1905
  • “Babe Ruth made a mistake when he gave up pitching.” – Tris Speaker, baseball player, 1921
  • “There is no likelihood that man can ever tap the power of the atom.” – Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize winner, Physics, 1927
  • “Who in the world wants to hear actors talk?”  – Harry Warner, Warner Brothers Pictures, 1927

It’s up to each of us to define our own future and turn a deaf ear to doubt casters, just as those change agents did who ultimately made the above statements humorous and absurd.

Seize the moment to change… and excel.

You can learn about the remaining moments that define excellent leaders in 7 Moments…that Define Excellent Leaders.