In my younger days, this would have been no big deal. At 22 I had a crew cut. Three years later, my wedding announcement displayed long flowing locks. On my wedding day six months after that, it was short and professional.
Then for 25 years, my hair was so very much the same that it became iconic. Interestingly, the greyer it got, the more iconic it became.
Until June 3, when I walked into that salon and said, “Get rid of it all. This is no longer who I am.”
This was not a fast decision. I had considered the cut-and-color thing for about a year, getting more and more bored with the same old look. Friends smiled knowingly, saying, “Changing your hair is a sign of changing your life.” I had no idea how right they were.
Yes We Can Judge a Book by Its Cover
A major cornerstone of the work of Creating the Future is something we call the Continuum of Potential. (I had hoped to write a book about that this summer, but that is for another post.)
What we know from working with the continuum is that outward transformation is only visible after we’ve gone through some pretty monumental inward change.
That inward change could be a decision made after much reflection or even consternation. It could be a realization, an aha, that has led to planning and maneuvering. It could be years of struggle or years of meditation. It could be months of feeling like enough is enough. Or it could simply be the slow transformation that happens because time has passed and life has changed.
By the time we see evidence on the outside, what may seem like a sudden, dramatic change has actually been happening for a long time inside.
Taking Time to Listen
All of which is to say that when we see outward change in our colleagues and friends and the people we love – whether that is change for the better or the worse – that change is a sign that it is time to reach out and to listen.
It could be the time to reach out in compassion and kindness. It could be the time to reach out in celebration.
When we see those signs of change on the outside, the only way we can know what is going on inside is to be present. To slow down. To ask because we really want to know, and to listen to the answer.
Because none of us is our behaviors or appearance – not the Fox News commentator, filled with fear and rage, nor the celebrity who looks pert and perfect in her red carpet dress.
Each of us is a deep well of what it is to be human. And for each of us, outward change is only the tip of the iceberg of the change we are experiencing inside.