• Greg Roth

What are the barriers to change?

When we think about change or learning how to do something new, we often look to our peers to help us learn from their experiences. We ask our mentors for guidance, read memoirs from industry leaders, subscribe to their articles, and try to absorb as much as we can to help us feel prepared for the uncertainty of new beginnings. But one of the most obvious and impactful sources of learning is often overlooked, simply because its the hardest to face. Learning from ourselves. Reflecting on our pain and pinpointing where we went wrong on our journey can spiral into a whirlwind of self-pity, which isn’t exactly ideal. But, as the famous saying goes, “we learn from our mistakes”, exploring these pain points and dissecting our challenges is when you truly begin to understand how to move forward. Talk about tough love.

The legendary Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, tells us that our most painful moments are also our most important. One of my favourite quotes from him is “pain plus reflection equals progress”. Pain is something we try to avoid, instinctively and consciously, so building our relationship with it is not easy. It practically goes against what we’re programmed to do. By now you’re probably wondering if this blog is going to be an inspirational dialogue about coping with your pain—it’s not. Well, at least not entirely. This fundamental principle that Dalio preaches is the same formula that launches every project, there’s a business problem to solve and part of the journey towards the right solution means understanding your organization’s relationship with pain. So how do you identify the barriers to change and these sources of resistance? This is a tough question to answer, so let’s look at it through a more familiar lens.