There are some great benefits to linear thinking when applied to change; checklists, schedules, budgets, plans and processes, just to name a few.
However, as I’ve touched upon in previous posts, there are also some downsides to this approach; an expectation of consistency, assumption that mistakes are bad, and a sense of finality upon reaching 'the summit'.
Today I offer a complimentary approach to how we think about change, which is also the foundation for the idea behind changevolution. Spiral Thinking.
What is Spiral Thinking?
I define Spiral Thinking as that which recognizes a spiral movement of a given idea, concept, plan or behavior.
This movement does not follow the path of a straight line.
It is circular, in that we often revisit the same or similar topics, goals or actions, yet in a way that honors the evolution (or as I like to call it, the changevolution) of these things.
We learn from our mistakes, as well as from our successes. We build upon what we currently know to create new knowledge and approaches. It is only rarely that such new knowledge and approaches are without the foundation of existing learning.
When it comes to change, Spiral Thinking allows for advances as well as setbacks in a way where setbacks aren’t viewed as bad. Rather, they are considered a natural part of the evolutionary process of learning.
New ways of being require practice to become competent, and practice is at its best when we allow ourselves to fail as well as to succeed.
This point of view also recognizes that we are always learning and evolving, so there are always opportunities to hone, tweak and improve.
This then eliminates (or at least greatly reduces) the pressure and interference of fixed expectations such as perfection (to assume that something can, in fact, reach its maximum potential), or finality ("okay, the change is over, I can check it off of my list") can invoke.
“You cannot dig a hole in a different place
What does this have to do with preparing for change?
As we delve into the various aspects of Preparing For Change, approaching this journey with acceptance that we are participating in a journey - a process of change that currently has no roadmap - will increase our resilience amidst perceived setbacks.
This will happen by learning how to think of these challenges differently, with a growth, rather than a fixed, mindset.
What we once might have thought to be roadblocks, we will instead think of as information. As opportunities for learning and adjustment.
After all, that’s all roadblocks and setbacks really are; informative signs that offer us a choice: Do we revise our approach - our process of determining our desires, needs, gaps, and how to design a plan that works best for us - or do we call it quits and give up?
The spiraled process of adapting to Spiral Thinking.
Spiral Thinking does not come naturally to most of us, and is, as a result, a spiral process in and of itself.
We might start out strong and positive, but then face an unexpected situation or challenge that tests our resolve. We might falter, going back to our comfort zone of linear thinking for a while.
At some point though, if we stick with it, we will notice what has happened and make adjustments to help get us back into our growth mindset. The next time we face a challenge, we might falter again, but maybe not as deeply or for as long.
Learning and adaptation are evolutionary practices. Keeping this at the forefront of our thinking as we begin examining ways to prepare for change will help us to integrate this approach into our personal change plan.
Spiral Thinking is a both/and approach.
Last but not least, I believe Spiral Thinking to be inclusive of linear ways of thinking as well.
As mentioned earlier, there are wonderful benefits to defined and structured thinking, but also some downsides.
Spiral Thinking suggests that some of what we once thought of as clear, defined and consistent, might not actually be so neat and orderly as we would like, and accepts that this is okay.
Rather than trying to fit a round peg in a square hole, why not make room for both?
Coming up next...
Coming up next, Building Awareness for Conscientious Change.
Remember, I’m creating a PDF version of this completed series, which will also include some bonus material that won’t appear elsewhere. Click below to reserve your copy today.
About the Author
Megan Rounds, Ed.D. is owner and principle perculator of perculcha, llc.
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