by Henry Cloud
When you need to execute an ending of some sort, there will be people in your circle who will try to fight it or slow it down, because even if you aren’t paranoid, it doesn’t mean that someone isn’t out to get you or sabotage you. You have to be ready for that to occur, recognize it as inevitable and deal with it. Otherwise, other people will be in control of your life and decisions.
External resistances are those that come from other people. Their challenges and questions are not the helpful kind that a good confidante might provide. Sometimes the people in our business and personal lives actually stop or hinder us from making decisions they believe are not good for us. Right or wrong, they are acting out of what they believe are our best interests. That’s not the kind of resistance I’m referring to here. I’m referring to resistance from people who have ulterior, self-protective or self-interested motives.
People will put up a resistance because your decision is going to affect them in some way, and they do not want that to change. But the truth is, many times there are endings that are going to affect someone, and that person does not have the kind of character to put his self-interest aside and see what is good for the company or the mission. Passively or actively, this person is on a sabotage mission and is not looking out for you.
This person can appear friendly, offering “advice” to “help” you, but he is really a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He will warn you of all the downsides, all that can go wrong, what you will lose and so on. Certainly there are times when we need that kind of advice, but this is not one of them. This situation I am referring to is one where this is not advice, but an attempt to keep you from going forward.
Other times, resistance comes from someone who is threatened by you personally by what you are doing. Whether in business or personal life, when you do something difficult but worthy, it confronts people with their own lives. It activates all of their fears, and they quickly try to tell you the same things that they tell themselves. “It will never work. I know a lot of people who tried to do that, and they were sorry in the end.” The thing is that they are stuck, you are getting unstuck, and you cause them to look in the mirror and face themselves. Unconsciously, they realize if you can do it, they can do it. But to think about doing it scares them. They’ll talk you out of it so you both can be comfortable again.
NoNos are those who are highly skilled urgency killers. John Kotter says if they cannot undermine attempts at diminishing a contentment with the status quo, they create anxiety or anger and the flurry of useless activity associated with a fake sense of urgency. NoNos are motivated by many things, and as a psychologist, I can tell you that I’ve seen them in many instances. They can be pretty inflexible. They often are not open to what we call “assimilation and accommodation,” a process by which normal people take in new data, accommodate ourselves to it and change our minds.
Not so with NoNos. Instead of taking in new data, they have all sorts of reasons for rejecting it, devaluing it and undermining any accommodation that anyone would be close to making with it. The best way to handle NoNos is not to engage them. They’re trying to stall you, and they are not going to change, so to spend any time trying to convince them is to allow them to use their strategy of derailing. You talk to them, they win.
When you start to make your move down a new path, obstacles will come as a result. Getting things done is hard, or more people would be making changes. So accept the fact that endings are difficult and hard to implement. You will be going through new waters, and there will be waves. Big bumpy ones, and it takes courage and perseverance to keep going.
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