Change Whisperer – Gail Severini, Symphini Change Management Inc.

A virtuous cycle of confessions and resolutions. Part 1

“A confession has to be part of your new life.” Ludwig Wittgenstein

fireworks bing freewareThe beginning of a new year always holds a strange promise – and pressure – to manage one’s own personal change in the larger continuum of one’s life.

The convention that one should look back on the last year and forward to the next one with the objective of re-setting, re-calibrating and re-imagining our lives is a powerful one.

This year rather than my usual knee-jerk three resolutions or key words, I am compelled to take a step back and a deeper breath in order to ‘re-set’.

Approaching the question from the perspective of “what is the center of gravity of my change work?” is an attempt to sneak up on my biases and to re-examine my goals from a different perspective – hopefully to get better insights and to inform the next phase of my own journey.

As any long term reader of this blog knows – this is a learning journal – a way of ‘making sense’ of my work. Usually I focus on sharing resources and developing ideas.  However, this post is inward looking – it focusses on doing the ‘inner work’ to separate my own, often subconscious, motivations from those of the work, to ensure the integrity of the work itself.

I offer it only in the hope that these reflections and shared resources might be a little entertaining and might resonate with you. I invite you to take this journey with me and to share your reactions in the comments field below.

Here is where this freight train of logic took me.

What drives passion for change?

This question, for me, uncovers the foundation of the center of gravity as what drives us as change practitioners.

Leading and managing change is not easy work – it is usually physically and emotionally draining:

  • Strategic planning and execution is conducted concurrent with running the organization – a double-time pace – often in the face of competitive and sometimes survival pressures
  • It requires us to help others think and act differently – a heavy cognitive load for all
  • Sometimes it is painful – sometimes good people struggle and fail to make the journey
  • Change is concurrent – there is little reprieve

So why do we do this hard work?  Everyone will have their own answers for this and I have found that some of my answers have changed over time.


If I am brutally honest with myself here are my raw confessions:

  • I will not be a “victim” of change
    • Many times in my career I have been given instructions that I did not agree with. This dissonance and lack of control was extremely uncomfortable.
    • On some level, I have come to terms with the realization that my career choices are an effort to do the work that I agree with and to take back control of my own life. (I am not oblivious to the irony here – for me to be in control means that my work requires others to change)
  • I want to facilitate change
    • To make it easier (less stressful) for others.
    • To deliver what’s in the best interests of the organization
    • In conversations with other change agents I have heard some go so far as to want to ‘heal’ people and organizations. I understand this and yet it feels a ‘bridge too far’ for me.
  • I want to learn and be challenged
    • I was “bitten by the change bug” years ago, it was probably the first project I contributed to. That intellectual stimulation, the team work, the artisanship, the end product … was seductive, satisfying, addictive
  • I want to make a difference
    • Oh the ego, what a powerful invisible force. Too much to unload here, but the upshot is that operating in service of the (greater good of) organization provides, for me, a sense of noble purpose

Well, we are just warming up.  Next … if these are my motivations where do I have work to do this year? (Hint: consider yourself your best tool for change).


What drives you and what are you working on this year?

Really appreciate your thoughts, feedback and exchange.  And if you’re getting something out of this please do share it on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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1 Comment so far
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Gail – thanks so much for this post! I’ve actually been asking myself the same question for the past few months – why am I so passionate about doing this work when so many times I am the subject of someone else’s negative projections? When it can be so damned hard ? I really haven’t been able to come up with any answers for myself (tho’ I’m suspecting taste of some things) which is somewhat frustrating….all I know is that when a client “gets it” and says to me “we couldn’t have gotten this done without you”, it makes it all worthwhile! I think there’s so much more to discuss with myself on this subject – thanks for confirming that I’m not alone in these thoughts!

Comment by Tricia Steege

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