Reading the Resistance

This edition of Mentor Online is adapted from “Reading the Resistance: When Your Vision Meets Obstruction, Which Way Do You Go?” by Wayne Schmidt in Leadership.

Change is the price of vision, and with change comes resistance. If there is no resistance, there has been no change; we’ve simply gotten around to doing what others were expecting to take place. The greater the change, the greater the resistance.

There are four stages to most transitions:

Denial — Holding on to the illusion that nothing will change and the pressures to do so will go away.

Resistance — Bouncing back and forth between denial and resistance. This stage is far more painful than denial, it interrupts sleep, makes us angry, tempts us to withdraw.

Exploration — Searching for options for the future for individuals and the organization.

Commitment — Resolving to pursue a new or renewed vision in spite of the risk that is latent in pursuing the preferred future option(s). Sometimes some will want to go back to the past even if the future is perceived to be a better destination than stagnation or death.

Nostalgia is a powerful force that holds captive many organizations and individuals. History should be claimed — with all of its positive and negative elements. But the history that is claimed should be an honest narrative that celebrates victories, acknowledges failures and shares secrets. Many times the power of nostalgia blinds the view of the past so that legends replace facts and myths replace reality.

Organizations and individuals are more inclined to return to a former existence that might have been imperfect — even dysfunctional! — rather than risk progress.

“We are going to try some new things in the next few months. Some of those new things we will perceive as change and reject. Others we will perceive as progress and embrace.” — Charles Boone (1997)

Adapted from “Reading the Resistance: When Your Vision Meets Obstruction, Which Way Do You Go?” by Wayne Schmidt in Leadership.

Published by

Retired Lutheran (ELCA) clergyperson. Founder & owner of Brookover Leadership Development & Consulting, Inc. (1967)

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