Old to New Shoes
By Adam Chan
Nobody can avoid the initial discomfort of fitting into a new shoe. To some, departing with the old shoes seems difficult. It is also inevitable that sores and blisters will develop as one wears the new shoe and that makes you wonder if the selected new shoes are the right one. Feelings of wanting back the old shoes will continue to cast doubts in the suitability of the new pair. Such paradox; getting new shoes is unavoidable but letting go the old pair is difficult is common to us and it can paralyze our decision-making ability. Letting go isn’t an easy thing for all. By the same token, why is it so tough to let it go? It is always between the clobber and new shoes.
It is a clique to say that our personalities differ but it is the fundamental truth that resulted in the ways we think of new and old shoes. Our worldview a.k.a. beliefs are made up of a collection of anecdotes and knowledge of what we know at both conscious and subconscious level.
The beliefs drive our decision-making process and the product is a reflection of our behavior, whether appropriate or not. In corporate learning, the essence of this anecdote is the ability to let go of the old system and embrace the new one across all hierarchy levels. The anecdote is most applicable when an organization is undergoing major changes in manpower structure, company policies, business processes or information technology.
For any change process to achieve completeness, the process has to be led and managed. Usually the leaders are responsible to lead and manage the change process and it is also when they failed to do so the change process failed. The failure in the change process will result in widespread of uncertainties, apprehensions, anxieties, etc at the workers level and predictably, the organization will suffer a dive in performance. It would be like the new shoe fails to perform at its intended or designed level without knowing the reasons for it.
The root of such failure is usually the communication process which is also a subset of managing change. Change has to be effectively communicated to all levels. The communicator plays a critical role in steering the change process to success and the attention and preparation for its communication can never be overly emphasized.
Facilitators can use this anecdote to illustrate the various aspect of change process and solicit their views and understanding hence generating useful discussions among participants. Remember to focus on the use of keywords to invoke thoughts and insights from participants, summarizing the share insights to conclude the discussion.
Below illustrates one version of the story,
Far away in the horizon formed by the Gob desert and the skyline, there are two persons walking on the dry and hot sand, making their way to the promise land where they can find abundance of food, water and advance habitats.
Their names are Hmm and Ah. They have been walking for months but they still see no signs of the promise land told to them by their elders. Not conceding defeat, they continue to push on with their will.
Not relenting to the scotching heat of the sun and desert, perseverance had carried them miles after miles and suddenly, Ah had discovered that his shoes are showing signs of depreciation after the prolonged usage. The left outsole is on the verge of detaching from the shoe’s body, he can no longer feel the dampening and insulating effect from the shoes as he began to feel closer to the sand as if there wasn’t any protection to his feet.
Ah then looked at Hmm’s shoes and they look exactly the same; they were depreciating too. This sets AH to think; how long can this pair of shoe last? Can he still go on without the shoe? Uncertainties started to cloud his mind and simultaneously he worried for Hmm.
Ah is very determine to reach the promise land but he knew if their shoes retired on them, it may affect their chances of reaching the promise land. Ah brought to Hmm’s attention about his shoes’ conditions but Hmm brushes it off by saying; “This pair of shoes had brave all storms and heat with me for many years, it is the most comfortable shoe I have owned. It will last and I have no intention to change a new pair.”
Silenced by Hmm’s remarks, they continued with their journey to the promise land. Suddenly Ah spotted a little hut, in it he saw many pair of shoes being displayed. Ah was delighted and quickly rushed towards the little hut. Hmm was not least interested in the hut, so he moved on.
In the hut, Ah was given VIP treatment by the hut owner and he quickly drops off the worn-off shoes and used almost all his valuables to exchange for a brand new and better-designed pair to meet the desert challenges. As Hmm walked pass the hut, Ah waved at him with great excitement, inviting him to change a pair of “better-designed” shoes. Hmm replied; “With new shoes, you will bound to be uncomfortable, moreover it is likely to cause you blisters. No amount of positive thinking will get you through the pain from blistered feet. I am comfortable now, I will continue the journey and see you later, alligator.”
Ah thinks; “It makes sense, if I have blisters, that would means I can’t walk anymore. How can I ever make it promise land?” Immediately, he asked; “How to prevent blisters from forming?” The owner confidently said; “Preparation and knowing the new shoes well are the keys to blisters prevention. First you must learn how to walk in the new shoes, and pre-taped the anticipated hot spots on your feet. That will give a pleasant journey ahead. Remember, bring extra tape with you to re-taped the worn off first layer. I can teach all I know about walking in this new shoe now but you must understand the essence through practice and eventually manage the new shoe on your own. I can’t fish for you, I can only teach you the fishing skills. Your journey is still young, many things can happen. Last but not least, wear socks.”
Ah armed with the new found knowledge, surged ahead toward the promise land while Hmm has already made certain headway during Ah’s stay in the hut.
On the horizon, Hmm started to detect signs of the promise land. He was overjoyed to see it and he step up his tempo to get there as fast as he could. Unexpected to Hmm, his shoes ripped apart into pieces. The beatings have finally taken its toll on his shoes and now the shoes are unusable. Although Hmm’s shoes were out, he refused to stop. Discarded his beloved shoes, he carried on with the journey. Shortly into the journey but now without the protection of shoes, he began to feel the heat and the abrasive sand attacking his feet with each step he took. Hot spots started to form, it then progressed to blisters and finally the blisters were ripped opened by the abrasive actions of the sand. To the point of unbearable, Hmm halt and looked at his heavily battered feet. Still refused to give up hope on the promise land, he limped slowly ahead, with excruciating pain on every landing of each foot. As slow as a snail, the hopes and positive self in the beginning have dwindled down to desperations and prayer of reaching the promise land soon so to end all agony.
Meanwhile, Ah was feeling unfamiliar when he started walking in his new shoe. There were doubts in his head that this new shoes were the right decision he had made. Nevertheless he kept in mind what was taught to him and moves on. Gradually, he could feel a different form of comfort that was offered by the new shoes. His mood has been lifted as he became more comfortable with the new shoes he has. His pace was increasing at a steady rate, his hopes in getting to promise land were greater too, things seems so fine to Ah.
Finally Ah has the promise land insight. Ah was also told by his elders that if he failed to reach the promise land before the sunset from the first sight, it will move away from him. Ah was not going to accept the failure to reach the promise land. Fueled with excitement and adrenalin, Ah surged ahead with great speed and with his new shoes. Not long after, he finally reached the promise land and he could feel the live and the joyous atmosphere.
He was overwhelmed by the fact he has reached the promise land after all the hard work and persistent effort he had put into. Ah started to wonder Hmm’s whereabouts as he could not see Hmm around.
Back in the desert, the sun is setting into the horizon, as the sun descent, the promise land seems to move away from Hmm. He was struggling hard to inch forward, every step was simply unbearable and he was no longer positive and hopeful. Eventually Hmm stopped, both in his legs and his mind.