Friday, November 14, 2008

Context Change

So I'm out in Idaho for work this week training various groups of providers on how to use our software. Just being out in the West is completely different from the normal East Coast atmosphere. The wide open spaces and clean mountain air really gives you a different feel about life. You actually see the land in the phrase "Land of opportunity" and there is this sense that you could just grab 50 acres and do whatever you inclined to, just make it happen.

On top of that, I've been traveling with this remarkable man. I don't even know where to begin in describing his life story. He started working for his dad at age 8, washing the trucks for his dad's crews and restocking them every morning at 4:30 before school. He had more money and was at a more mature stage in his life at the age of 14 than I'm probably at even now at 24. From there he went on to being a professional skier, then when couldn't compete anymore he taught ski lessons on one the most challenging resorts in the country. From there he did IT consulting for various banks, then when he wanted to retire a company that had contracted to his forced him to come work with them since they had invested so much into him. He revolutionized the way they built fire engines, allowing the customer to pick and choose the options on the cabs by selecting different radio buttons in a list and showing them in real time a CAD drawing of what their engine would look like. After enough time there, he ended up doing some work for the state of Wyoming counciling mental health and substance abuse youth. He came up with some ideas for how they could run their system better, but they told him he didn't have the credentials to tell them what to do. So from there he headed off to Oxford to get a couple of masters degrees and some PhDs. After teaching there for some time after graduation, he went back to the state and started implementing some of his programs.

That's really only the tip of the iceberg. Each story is more phenomenal than the previous one, and the guy is just a constant inspiration for the "Yes I can" spirit. I feel like he's changed my life, and honestly I want to emulate him as much as I can. There is only one problem. I know already that what is most likely to happen is that after working with him, he'll move on to the next thing and I'll move back to my normal surroundings and that inspiration will seep out, leaving me right back where I was.

It's almost like a natural animal instinct. I play a certain role in my family and at my job, and everyone else has their roles. I'll come back wanting to change my role, to shift everything and have it different. They won't like that so they'll resist and since there is more of them trying to put me back in place and my inspiration for leaving places will be gone, it'll just be a constant effort to try and make change until one side wins, most likely the other side.

So the question is, what do I do? I know what's going to happen in advance. I still want the change. What is it going to take for it to actually happen, for the elements and relational dynamics of my life to actually change?

Recently, there has been some change in my life that has led me to where I am. But it's been slow and it's been hard and I've even had to change my appearance by growing a goatti just to have a physical and real reminder everyday that I'm not some kid anymore and that I should have some power and respect in my community. What does it take to break through the dynamic keeping me in place?

I'm hoping that writing this will at least help. That way when I look back at it later I can think about what I'm feeling now and at least try to remember that rather than having it disappear completely. Maybe while I'm out here I can start taking some steps. A friend called me about the possibility of doing some contracting work, so that's one avenue I can get in motion. I can finally put together the website I've been thinking about doing. Also, a friend at work keeps trying to motivate me, so maybe with his support there is a greater chance that I'll be able to change dynamics.

The sad thing is that it's really my family and some of my friends that are holding me in place. They have very small world views and have adopted the mindset that they have to be employees and that they have to just move up the ladder at someone else's pace because there is some invisible barrier in their minds between where they are and where they would want to be and they are unable to break through it. I've actually known this for about two years now, ever since I did the Rich Dad Training. I also knew that if I wanted to change I had to change who I surround myself with, but I've been very hesitant to do it because I don't want to give them up. But what are you giving up really when you let go of people who want to hold you back and keep you in place? It's sad because they are trying to help, but they are trying to help from their context.

I know eventually everything has to change. I think when I moved back home from college, it was such a dramatic setback that it's taken me years to recover from. The momentum has been building up though, and there has been an increasing change, so maybe this time it will be enough to break free. And if it is not, at least I have this record to look back on and reawaken these ideas in the future. I may lose the battle, but the hope I have is that I can still win the war.

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