leadership, Reflections & Questions

Three Magic Words You Can Invoke Anytime

Source: Pixabay.com

I first was acquainted with these three magic words when I attended Georgetown University’s leadership coaching program: Up Until Now… 

At first blush, they might not sound that powerful, but – having used them with countless clients (and myself!) – I am now a believer.

Here’s the power of this phrase: It gives you permission to change. If something isn’t serving you, you can draw a line in the sand and say, “Up until now, THIS is how it’s been, but now, it’s going to be like THIS.”

One of the ways I’ve seen it used within the leadership context is in allowing leaders to go back to their teams and make a radical shift. Some of the transformations I’ve witnessed:

  • Up until now, I’ve been focused exclusively on our team’s results, but moving forward I want to also focus on our team’s happiness.
  • Up until now, I’ve tolerated under-performance because I like you and it’s too difficult to confront, but I realize I haven’t been doing you any favors, so moving forward I’m going to hold you accountable – because I want you to succeed and I know you can.
  • Up until now, I’ve been a workaholic, but moving forward I’m going to prioritize my health, so while you might see my schedule shift, know that I’m still committed to getting results – I’m just going to be working toward a better balance.
  • Up until now, I’ve been a micromanager, but moving forward I’m going to measure my success by my team’s ability to work without my interference.

See how this works? It is deceptively simple – and it’s arguably one of the best tools at your disposal if you want to make a big change. When I help clients sift through their narratives, I find that one of their biggest barriers to making an important change is that they feel they’ve established a precedent or expectation that is too difficult to undo.

Guess what? Nope. That’s why these words are so magical. They acknowledge that life is about constant change and we can arbitrarily hit the reset button whenever we realize that it’s not unfolding in a way that’s serving us. For everyone who has ever wished for the option of a do-over, this is it!


So What, Now What? Put It In Motion:

Now that you know the secret, what will you do with it? What have YOU done – up until now – that you’d like to move away from? Once you’ve identified the behavior or belief that needs to go, figure out who you need to communicate it to. It might be that simply saying it to yourself is permission enough to make the change – or you might need to make the declaration to others. Then put it motion. As with any behavior change, you might need to establish some systems to help form the new habit, but simply realizing you have the power to break from the past goes a long way toward laying the groundwork for change.

See why it’s magic? And you didn’t even have to go to Hogwarts!


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