The HR Juggler

Day 5: The Less Things Change…

Posted on: December 5, 2013


Today’s post is written by Broc Edwards, author of the excellent ‘fool with a plan’ blog.

Artwork for today (and every day!) is provided by the brilliant Simon Heath.


the less things change, the more they stay the same

The alarm hasn’t gone off yet, but it will in a few minutes. It’s 4:25am and I’m tired, I’m hungry, and I hurt. All over. In a few minutes, I’ll be getting up to run five miles in 32 degree weather. I’m officially ten days into my training program. Only one hundred and seventy to go…

*     *     *     *     *

By all rights and measures, 2013 has been a banner year for me, full of accomplishment and rewards. Great things have been happening both personally and professionally and I accomplished several significant, long-held goals. I was asked to chair not-for-profit group that provides leadership development in the community, I received a promotion at work, I co-presented at several conferences, I published a book, my blog started to get noticed, and I contributed a small part to an e-book that was topping very established authors as a best seller on Amazon. This past year social media has opened my world in a big way and I am meeting and developing relationships with so many fantastic people who inspire me to do more and better. I’ve even been able to get out and mountain bike more this year. Hard to go wrong with a year like that.

I hope this doesn’t sound smug or braggy – I write this all in amazement and gratitude. We all have good years and we all have bad years, and in so many ways, this one was one of the years where everything seemed to come together. Many seeds I’d been planting for a couple of years began to bear fruit.

Yet… yet.. yet.

As I look back on the year, I see plenty of failure and set-backs. I see areas I neglected and things I didn’t do as well as I needed to. I’m disappointed with too much. While I was charging ahead and reveling in the new and novel in some areas, I got too cozy with the tried and true in others. Responsibilities I should have been maintaining moved far down the priority list or were just plain ignored. I started making and accepting excuses to myself, rationalizing, justifying, explaining away.

This showed up in my personal life. I really enjoy physical activity – it’s a great stress relief and some of my best ideas come while exercising. Years ago, I used to race mountain bikes and motorcycles and I miss the discipline that focusing on competition brings. My last race was seven and a half years and some 50 pounds ago. For a couple of years now I’ve had the nagging awareness that I need competition to inspire me to be in shape, but was too out of shape to compete. It was a vicious downward spiral leaving me frustrated and angry at myself on a daily basis. Every night I vowed I’d get with the program tomorrow. And every morning I’d find that tomorrow never came.

This showed up in my professional life. I took on a couple of huge challenges this year and surprised myself with how well it all panned out. But rather than leaving me sated, that success showed me how nestled into my comfort zones I’d become and how far below potential I’m operating on most days. It’s massively frustrating to do so much and be rewarded with the blessed doubled-edged awareness of how much more could be done.

There is a choice of course. There is always a choice. Every day there is a choice. I could choose to stay in my comfort zone. And I’ve demonstrated to myself that my comfort zone is big enough I could spend the rest of my days there and really have a pretty decent life. Sure, I’d still be frustrated but, ironically, I was clearly comfortable with disliking myself for being so comfortable. Staying the same is a realistic option.

Or… or.. or.

Or I could choose to change. I could do something big to ensure I stayed deep within my discomfort zone on a daily basis. Something frightening and inspiring and huge. For the past several months, I’ve been looking and searching and even winding down other commitments to leave room in 2014 to play bigger. I knew there was something out there, I just didn’t know what it was. By sheer coincidence, I had two brief exchanges the first week in November that led to me hammering stakes in the ground and making self-commitments to redefine myself for myself.

The first was Chris Ponder (@ChrisPonder) over at Performance I Create. He had recently completed a Tough Mudder event and when I congratulated him he responded, “You should do one.” Uh, yeah… 10-12 miles of running and a couple dozen obstacles involving mud, fire, electricity, freezing water, heights, and three or four hours of intense effort to complete. My initial response was “No” followed by “Maybe” followed by “I could do that” and finally “Where do I sign up?” I’m terrified. And apparently that’s what it takes for inspire me to get back in shape. I have exactly six months to be in prime condition – just enough time and completely doable if I don’t waste any time or effort. So every day I’m tired, hungry, sore, and enjoying the commitment to myself.

The second was a conversation with Tash Stallard (@StirTheSource) at Stirring the Source and WorldBlu. I’m a big fan of WorldBlu’s efforts create a world where 1 billion people work in democratic workplaces. I believe organizational democracy is the FutureNow of work and applaud their vision. To reach more people beyond their organizational certification programs, they are creating a leadership development program called Freedom Centered Leader. I was intrigued and interested in participating when I first heard about it, but hesitated to take action.  Then, in what was supposed to be a casual and unrelated conversation, Tash asked the simple question, “If you’re interested, what’s stopping you from signing up?” Sooo…. after listening to myself offer up some really lame excuses I gave it some good, hard thought and joined the inaugural class of 150 or so from around the world looking to advance their own leadership skills and improve the world by improving business.

As I reflect on that oddly pivotal week, I’m struck by a few thoughts. First is that I was primed and searching for ways to push myself and play bigger in very specific areas of my life. Cris and Tash provided sparks – gentle nudges – that would have been meaningless if I weren’t already looking. Second, is that these things are important only to me. Who cares if I do a Tough Mudder, return to racing mountain bikes, take up golf, or sit on the couch? What’s it matter if I learn from WorldBlu, take other classes, pursue another degree, or watch TV? Just as I don’t want other people’s goals, I wouldn’t wish these goals on anyone else (unless they wanted them). The only significance these goals hold is the significance I give them.

That said, these goals are highly significant for me personally. Both are big undertakings with plenty of unknowns, requiring commitment, belief, and willingness to push and test myself. I don’t know what either holds for me, but I’m simultaneously excited for the challenge and frightened of letting myself down.

Jim Rohn once said, “The ultimate reason for setting goals is to entice you to become the person it takes to achieve them.” Yes, I’ve drawn the lines and set the stakes. But, the stakes I’ve put in the ground would be worthless if they didn’t inspire me to have the tenacious discipline to take action and be the person I need to be to accomplish them.

The less things change, the more they stay the same. If I want things to be different, I need to be different.

How about you?

9 Responses to "Day 5: The Less Things Change…"

Love. This.

Love how you speak of goals … the ultimate reason for setting goals is to entice you to become the person it takes to achieve them… (how about that for taking the lid of what a goal truly is!)


You inspire me Broc and I learn from you constantly. I am truly excited about where and how our paths continue to weave into each others.

Thanks, Tash. Jim Rohn is one of my favorite business philosophers (his description for himself) and a key influence. Cheers!

A great post Broc and one that I recognise. I can always find things to do that stop me doing exercise and I too need discipline to ensure I go for the bicycle rides and swims etc. that I love once I’ve started. Especillay when it’s freezing. OK, time to stop typing and get on out into the cold ! 🙂

Peter, it’s funny how I almost always feel better when I get out and run, ride, or workout, yet it’s still so hard to get out there sometimes. And the number of excuses I was making was getting ugly… Hope you had a great ride.

Yes, bit of a wind chill today tho’ – bracing !

So thrilled Broc that you are joining us in the WorldBlu Freedom-Centered program! Love your reasoning — it’s all about being fearless and going for it! Thanks so much for this inspiring post! 🙂

Traci Fenton,
Founder, WorldBlu

Thanks, Traci. I’m really looking forward to it.

Reblogged this on fool (with a plan) and commented:
This is a post I contributed to The HR Juggler for Alison Chisnell’s Advent 2013 series. It’s a great series of posts from HR and L&D types, kicked off by Simon Heath, Peter Cook, Bina Briggs, Andrew Jacobs, and myself. Can’t wait to see who’s up next.

[…] Day 5 saw an excellent post from running man Broc Edwards. A happy runner, striding out – on a personal journey and with deep satisfaction. […]

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