Mind your own hula hoop when change is rampant

What’s a hula hoop got to do with change? Whenever I speak on resilience and responding to change, I invite the audience to go on an adventure with me. We stand up. We imagine ourselves running across the shire. Together, we shout, “I’m going on an adventure!”

This proclamation is far more exciting than moping about, mumbling incessantly about things you can’t control. Try it now, if you can. (The proclamation, not the moping.) See? It’s exhilarating!

Where so many of us get tripped up is that we think about all the hazards, obstacles and unknowns. We get overwhelmed with worry. We’re exhausted before we begin. That’s when it’s important to think about the space immediately around us.

Focus on your hula hoop

Amy Waninger using a hula hoop during a speaking engagement to illustrate what can and cannot be controlled. (photo provided)This is when I get out my hula hoop. Yes, really. I step inside it and gently remind myself that everything I can control fits within that plastic circle. There’s no need to worry about what might be discussed in the boardroom tomorrow. No reason to predict decisions being made about spreadsheets or org charts. No sense wasting time gossiping with Steve from Accounting. Just focus on what’s inside a 19-inch radius.

When I’m on stage, I bring my hula hoop with me. (There’s a snap-together version that fits in a carry-on.) It’s a great prop! For one thing, people can’t wait to see if I’m really going to use it. (I totally do.) But it’s also a great visual to reinforce the limits of our control. The message hits home.

Not only do I step inside my hoop on stage, I also invite my audience to imagine they each have one as well. After that exhilarating “run across the shire,” we hula hoop together.

This activity is usually a bright spot in a long conference day. Silliness and laughter also break tension. But, more importantly, each person remembers that the only way to positively influence others is to first manage what’s within their own hula hoop.

If you’re working through a rough transition at work, try this activity.

  1. Draw a large circle on a piece of paper. This circle represents your hula hoop.
  2. Write down everything that’s concerning you. If it’s something you can control, put it inside the circle. Otherwise, put it outside the circle.
  3. Accept that you can’t control the stuff outside the circle.
  4. Pick one thing inside the circle that you can do something about. Then do it! If you need some inside-the-hula-hoop ideas, check out my post about self-care.

Amy C. WaningerAmy C. Waninger works with organizations that want to build leadership bench strength from a diverse talent population. She is the author of numerous books, including "Network Beyond Bias: Making Diversity a Competitive Advantage for Your Career." Amy is a Certified Diversity Professional, a Professional Member of National Speakers Association, a Certified Virtual Presenter, and a Prosci Certified Change Practitioner. Her other credentials include two degrees from Indiana University and a "World’s Best Mom" coffee mug.

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