Thank you for reading this week’s Operation Melt update.
Operation Melt started as a blog to share my personal transformation and weight loss story. After achieving success with that goal, Operation Melt has evolved into a platform to help inspire, motivate and equip people to achieve their own personal and professional goals so they can live their best lives.
I am trying to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.
Throughout my journey, I have learned that many life lessons can be learned by getting fit. This week I am sharing another installment of Fitness Lessons are Life Lessons.
I am usually pretty honest and vulnerable in my Operation Melt blog updates. I have shared the good, the bad and the ugly about going through my change journey that started with my weight loss goal.
This week’s post continues my exploration of the mental aspects of my journey and it may be a little raw even for me. My apologies in advance if you find this to be too much information or too transparent.
The definition of transformation is the act or process of changing completely. The process is all about having a goal for the future, going through a complete change and not going back.
This process happens all around us:
- In nature, a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. Spring transforms to summer, then to fall, then winter and then back to a new spring.
- In business, companies transform by changing their lines of business or how they interact with their customers. Most notably is the digital transformation that has been happening in businesses to serve customers in new, technology-enabled manners.
- People transform too through personal transformation journeys. These journeys are focused on the process of changing who you are and becoming the person you want to be, which is a powerful and rewarding process. Some examples include undergoing a major weight loss that completely changes your life. Escaping poverty to achieve lasting financial independence. Breaking free from addiction. And many, many others.
Throughout my project management career, I have been a part of many business transformation projects. I can tell you that they are not easy and they are a lot of work.
- To start on the right foot, these projects require a strong vision and an unwavering business case, or a “why.”
- Transformation projects usually require changes to who is doing what jobs in the organization.
- These projects often include biz changes to business processes, or how you do the job.
- More often than not, these transformations are also technology-driven and change the tools that the organization uses.
Transformation projects are executed by people and bring a lot of change with them. As such, they require a strong change management effort to help people get from point A to point B. This means identifying what is changing, who it will impact and preparing the impacted people to be successful in the new, post-transformation world. Without change management, transformation projects in the business world fail.
But, beware: for every visible transformation that somebody goes through, there is another, more difficult, transformation that is entirely invisible.
Internal and External Transformation
Transformational change comes in two forms: internal and external transformation.
External change applies to all of the things you can see, hear, feel and such. People using new tools and technologies. People following new processes. People doing different jobs with different reporting relationships.
These external changes are a significant portion of transformation efforts but they barely scratch the surface of the complexity of internal changes.
Internal transformation is all about changing how people think about their jobs.
For internal change, people need to shift their focus and what they value in their jobs. For example, getting a merchant who has only ever focused on selling her products in physical stores to value digital sales just as highly requires a change in thinking, not just a change in tactics.
All change is hard and transformational change is especially difficult. But, internal transformation, is amongst the most daunting change management challenges we can face. This is one of the reasons that so many transformation projects fail.
The Change Inside You
I mentioned above that personal transformation is one of the forms of transformation that can be the most powerful and most rewarding. I have a great deal of first-hand experience with personal transformation and can tell you that it is a change management exercise like none other.
No matter the form of personal transformation you are pursuing, there is a great deal of external transformation required. This is the change that other people can see. Some examples from my personal experiences include:
- Transformation from poverty to financial stability: people can see that change as I began living differently. I no longer had a car I couldn’t trust to drive short distances, I could go out to eat at places that weren’t fast food and I could buy clothes that weren’t in bad repair.
- Transformation from obesity to a healthy, fit lifestyle: people could see me melting away, my healthier eating and drinking habits and my commitment to exercise.
Each of these external transformations required lots of tangible changes and the associated change management. I had to learn new things. I had to develop new habits. I had to get new equipment. I had to eliminate the things that risked failure.
These external transformations were easy in comparison to my internal transformation. The things that other people don’t see are the most difficult to manage.
When you transform yourself personally, you have to think differently about yourself and your life. You have to see yourself differently. You have to let go of the familiar stability of the old you. This is really hard to do. It is uncomfortable. It feels scary. And there is no template for how to do it.
In every one of my personal transformations, I have always underestimated the difficulty with and long timeline required to complete my internal transformation.
Decades later, I still struggle a bit with my relationship with money and willingness to spend and invest versus sticking it into a savings account.
I am still working to see myself as having a healthy, fit body when I look in the mirror. I also still work on managing my relationship with food and autopilot eating.
I still suffer from a little imposter syndrome as I write or coach people towards their own goals. The same applies to thinking of myself as a leader, an athlete or other personas that absolutely apply to me.
I can let myself default to living or dying by external validation like compliments, job titles, bank balances or, most often, what the scale says. When any of these things move backwards (e.g. weight increase, salary decrease, net worth goes down, etc.) I feel like I am losing something important to me no matter the facts behind them. I feel like something I have worked hard to achieve is suddenly slipping away. Because of these, I always have to manage my relationship with numbers and reminding myself that I am not a computer (see last week’s post).
No matter how much I know better logically, my emotional, auto-pilot (sometimes referred to as “lizard brain” as people believe that this comes from the unevolved portions of our brain) tends to take over and undermine that logic.
The result is that I work to deliberately manage these things every day of my life and to not let the auto-pilot brain take over. I have to continually remind myself that I really AM the transformed person that I wanted to be. I have to make sure not to look back at who I was and relive it. I continually challenge myself to be able to look at where I came from and not be afraid that I am not one wrong decision from ending up back in that position.
Managing Internal Transformation
My internal transformation is not complete and may not ever be complete. But, I have learned to manage it and am usually succeed more than I fail. Most importantly, it gets a little easier to manage my internal transformation every day.
I want to end by sharing a couple of the tactics that have either worked well for me or that I wish I would have embraced along my various transformation journeys. But, despite your best efforts, internal transformation is simply going to be hard and will take time. There is no magic formula.
My suggestion is to embrace an A, B, C strategy…
Always remember your why
I have said it dozens of times in this blog and my book, any successful transformation starts with a strong case for the change, your why. By having a strong why you have something to help keep you motivated when times get tough. If your why is strong enough, your how becomes much easier to manage.
Be prepared, be patient and be yourself.
Be prepared for the process to be difficult. Like anything in life, our own expectations can be our biggest ally or worst enemy. It is important to start any transformation with your eyes wide open to what may cause a setback. In your transformation, there are two main expectations that you should have when you start: expect the internal transformation and expect it to be hard.
Be patient with the process and yourself. You will have many ups and downs, hard times and good times. Be patient with the process and keep going. Be patient and compassionate with yourself, you are growing and it isn’t easy.
Be yourself. I can tell you first-hand that your identity during a transformation is tough. If you allow it, your transformation will become your brand and your identity. So, take steps to fight against this. Don’t be exclusively and maniacally focused on your transformation at the expense of other areas of your life. You are still you and continuing to do the things you love will help you enjoy the journey. Being yourself also means being aware that you will go through this transformation at your own pace with your own feelings. There is one other way that being yourself is important, that is to seek inspirational and motivational sources (videos, quotes, music, etc.) that work best for you to keep yourself moving.
Ensure that you are staying connected with others as you are transforming. Your friends and family can help keep you grounded. Your team of experts can help you navigate the ups and downs. Connection with others going through similar transformations can help you manage your own expectations. Connection with others just starting similar transformation journeys gives you a chance to tell your story and help others. Connection with yourself to stay aware of your feelings is also important because you can’t manage what you don’t know is there.
One Last Thing
The truth is, we all face hardships of some kind, and you never know the struggles a person is going through. Behind every smile, there’s a story of a personal struggle.Adrienne C. Moore
Finally, I want to remind you that this difficult internal transformation is something that you don’t see other people going through. You never know what people are going through inside their own minds. So, please be kind, patient, supportive and empathetic to those around you. It can make a big difference in their lives.
I Need Your Help
Before you go I would like to ask you for a favor. I can’t build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness on my own. Please consider helping your friends find today’s post by following me on Facebook, on LinkedIn or via Instagram and share today’s post to your feed.
While you are at it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s post, your goals or anything else on your mind. Send me a note via my Contact Me form,
Thanks again for reading today’s post and here’s to achieving your most important goals!
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