The Summer of ’86, Structures, Breakthroughs

Posted by on Mar 20, 2012 in Blog, Motivation, Welcome | 0 comments

I bought my first car for $150.00 in 1986. I remember feeling happy that despite a large hole under the gas pedal (nicely covered by sturdy mats), the car had a great stereo. Looking at the car from the back, it definitely leaned to one side. I was never sure what the lean was all about, although a few people warned me the car might not be too safe. I took my chances. Overall the car was pretty good to me for a while, except for the muffler which fell with a clunk in the dormitory parking lot. After trying unsuccessfully to convince a few college friends to helping me attach it, I went outside into the snowy parking lot with a coat hanger and strung it up myself.

My ’76 Cutlass Supreme provided a brand new structure for living. No more riding my bike to the YMCA for my lifeguarding job. No more hitching rides to the grocery store. No more taking the bus back to Silver Bay for the weekend. I was free! Free, except for the oil changes, insurance, gas, car problems, and responsibilities that accompany car ownership.

Structures are everywhere in everything we do.  When we want re-shape our lives, we need to look at our current structures and figure out whether to keep them, change them or throw them out all-together. Sometimes it’s really easy to identify how structures operate to impact our goals. For example, just look at weight loss. Eating less and exercising more are critical to losing weight; yet, many people who want to lose weight do not have structures in place to facilitate weight loss. Or, they intend to implement new structures, but the pull of familiar patterns is too strong.

Sometimes goal achievement is hindered because of hidden structures. Consider how parents foster expectations for post-secondary education.  In the 50s, according to many women of that generation, after high school a woman could become a nurse or a teacher, or perhaps work at the telephone office. College was for finding husbands. The very structure of expectations shaped choices and decisions. For an aspiring ballet dancer in rural Wisconsin, the choices may have seemed bleak. Change the structure of expectations, and you change the options.

To get out of a rut, or to create a breakthrough, expose the hidden structures supporting your current context. How do we expose the hidden structures? Anything that reveals your environment from different point of view has the potential to uncover hidden structures. These include provocative questions, travel, changing a routine, engaging in dialogue with others, and doing the opposite of what you normally do. Once you see the hidden structures, you can work with them.

The important thing to remember is not to give up. The keys to change don’t always present themselves immediately. If one thing doesn’t work, look over your structures again until to you find what works.  You can do it. I absolutely know you can.

468 ad

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *