Matters Column

Do our ‘alphas’ or our ‘omegas’ initiate needed change?

June 20, 2014
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Why is it that people think starting over means repeating everything they originally did while expecting different results than those initiating the “re-do”? Rather than focusing upon what does not (or did not) work, we should focus our efforts on what has not yet been attempted when starting over after an original effort produced less than acceptable results. 

Before we can start over, we must identify why we do not like where we are — even if we have not yet figured out what we must do differently to alter the direction or where we wish to end up — and what we are willing to do to change. 

In order to reach and accept a destination, even if only as a temporary resting place, you must first consider where you wish to ultimately “land” and how you hope to get there. In order to initiate an alpha (a new beginning), you must recognize that every opportunity — every new path upon which you walk — begins at an omega (an end-point) from which you must move. Each end is the beginning of another opportunity not yet revealed rather than an end in and of itself, and each beginning is the first step of an action plan not yet brought to fruition.

Those who accomplish much in life tend to initiate more “alphas” than they accept “omegas.” They see life as a series of new beginnings rather than ends, as fresh starts rather than conclusions. They find peace in the discovery of new moments rather than within the moments that exist.

They use each “omega” as a resting point where they recharge, refocus and redirect their efforts before seeking new opportunities, not as “ends” but rather precursors to new beginnings. They tend not to think about whether a glass is half-full or half-empty, focusing instead on how much more they can squeeze into the vessel.

While they accomplish much, they often feel more can be accomplished, considering the following as they move from end to beginning:

1. Never try to be someone you are not. Many individuals seek to change their situation by trying to do something (or be something) different. Unless there is more gain from the change than pain from not changing, such mid-stream corrections rarely prove effective. People change very little once they have established their basic values, patterns and thought processes. It is often easier (and more effective) to leverage an individual’s strengths than it is to try to change their shortcomings — to build upon what one does well than to try to establish a new base from which to grow. 

2. One must first imagine something as being a possibility before it can become a probability. While “failure” is not usually a desired outcome, dreamers often focus their desire to change around the real possibility that they may not (at first) taste success. Robert F. Kennedy said, "Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly." Much intentional thought and deliberate action is required to succeed at any endeavor. Failure is allowing a mistake to become a destination rather than a stepping-stone. If thoughts and dreams are to become reality, the word “impossible” must not exist.

3. Mark Twain once said, "Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first." We are not “owed” success; we must first seek it, then intentionally act to make it become a reality. Initiate long-lasting change by thinking big and acting audaciously without fear of failure, then incorporating the lessons learned into the inevitable success that will follow as you step away from your “ends” to experience a plethora of new beginnings. Learn from your mistakes rather than letting them limit your successes.

4. Life is a series of starts and stops, of closed chapters and new beginnings. If we wish to initiate change effectively, it is important that we not only recognize the need for altered behavior but that we act intentionally in some manner. We can choose to conduct our lives as they have always been and receive what has always been provided, or we can recognize that to accomplish anything new we must walk away from a place, person or situation so that something else can be achieved. We can choose to live within our omegas or intentionally seek new alphas but cannot realize a “new beginning” until we move away from our “endings.”  

5. If we are not an intrinsic part of the solution, our lack of involvement will cause us to become a major part of the problem. Will Rogers once said, "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.” Many people move to a point and then stop as they wait for life to catch up, or they let others make decisions and set direction for them. To initiate change we must recognize each omega as a disruption and then act intentionally to move away from that “end” toward each new beginning so we will not be run over or left behind as a part of the surroundings rather than carried forward as part of the future.

David J. Smith is president and CEO of The Employers’ Association in Grand Rapids.

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