Perhaps you know the story of how caterpillars become butterflies. I have to admit, I expect Fast Company magazine’s “consultant debunking” unit to rob me of the magic of this wonderful analogy someday soon. For now, though, the story works so I’ll tell it here.
First, have you ever thought about what really happens inside that cocoon between caterpillar and butterfly? It’s not like the creature takes off its wormy green office-wear in exchange for some wild colorful party outfit. No, the transition is messier than this – much messier. Caterpillar, after weaving its cocoon, slowly dissolves into a gooey, formless mess of an ooze. Then this ooze evolves until it breaks free from the cocoon to become Butterfly. To the point: in order to become a butterfly it must stop being a caterpillar.
So many of us are caterpillars with the attitude that NO WAY are we going to become butterflies. We’re just fine. “I’m satisfied with things as they are,” we tell ourselves. Or, as business trainer and consultant Scott Simmerman so eloquently puts it, “You’re not getting me up in one of those butterfly things!”
It is impossible to achieve more, to get different results, without doing something different. We have to change our ways to become more of who we are meant to be. It means leaving the comfortable and familiar for the messy and strange. Personal change takes us through a gooey, formless mess that we would just as soon avoid in the first place.
“And why fly when I get around just fine inching along on my belly, right? Life as a caterpillar is not that bad; in fact it can be pretty good,” we say.
“Of course, I am curious to know what it is like to fly, to see the world from up there,” we allow ourselves to think privately. “I wonder what I would look like as a butterfly?”
There is a colorful butterfly in each of us. It’s who we are meant to be, doing what we are meant to do. To achieve that kind of change, though, we have to think differently first. We have to move from thinking things like “I get around just find on my belly” to “I was born to fly.” We have to take decisive action. Sometimes we have to cocoon for a while and become a messy ooze. One way or another, we have to stop being the caterpillar in order to become the butterfly. “Who I Am” and “Who I Am To Be” cannot coexist. One must die for the other to live.
What must you STOP doing in order to START to fly? Are the end results worth enough for you to spend some time as a formless goo?
I hope so.