When you hear the word change what comes to mind? It’s possible you associate change with your own personal experiences and if so you are not alone. We all have our own meaning of what change is and depending on who is involved or what the change is determines how we interpret it. Change can be welcomed or unwelcomed and if you are anything like me you may be wondering what is the definition of change.
Change: to make or become different, the act or instance of making or becoming different.
Okay, that makes sense and when you look back and apply it to your own experiences does it fit? For me it does and life teaches us the one thing we can always count on is change. If we know change is likely to happen and continue to happen why do so many of us resist or ignore it? Why do some of us associate pain or discomfort with change? What if instead we embraced change? What would life be like if we welcomed change the way we welcome a promotion, winning a prize or receiving a gift? Is it possible change is an opportunity to be or have something better? If so wouldn’t you want change right now?
I am an executive coach and my primary responsibility is to facilitate change. In my experience working with executives and leaders, I noticed often, the desire for people to want to change other people. It’s common and it’s possible you may have experienced this yourself. What I noticed was a belief that others must change for a desired result to be achieved. That’s right, we are good and others are not. It wasn’t easy and I have to admit I was that guy. I would walk through life pointing fingers and telling myself if only this person would change or if that person would stop doing XX or if he/she would only do this everything would be great. I was wrong and I wish I had a coach or realized this sooner. That’s okay, and I made the decision to change what’s possible, me. Life taught me my finger belongs in my pocket the way a gun belongs in its holster. It was Marshall Goldsmith, a man I admire and one of the greatest executive coaches I know, who said “To help others develop start with yourself”. Marshall couldn’t be more right. We cannot control what others say or do and we can control what we say and do. If that’s true and it works why do so many of us waste our time and energy trying to change other people? It’s much easier to point a finger at the sales department for missing numbers, operations for not implementing a process, Human Resources for not hiring the right person or him/her for being a certain way. But does it work? Have you ever said to yourself, “If this person would only change things would be better?” I have and it doesn’t nor will it ever make anything better. This is called pushing a rope.
Did you know there is a process to change? I didn’t and when I learned it, life was better. I invite you to apply this when you can. The next time you are trying to help teach, advise or help someone and they are not motivated, do NOT go any further. If you are still motivated to help them you might consider discussing what motivates them and only after motivation is present can you move forward. Here you go:
Motivation: For change to be possible you must first want it. You must have the “motivation” to have it. Without motivation change is not possible. In my early days of coaching I used to think I could help clients change even if they lacked the motivation for it. I thought if my motivation was strong enough I could help them change. I quickly realized this was not possible. If my client wasn’t open and ready for it, there was nothing I could do.
How: Only after you are “motivated” can you explore what needs to be explored, the “how”. Like making a cake, building a home or riding a bike, the “how” is where things get done. It’s the process, the action step(s) and the doing part.
Chance: After you have the “motivation” and knowledge, “how”, it’s time to put it to work and give it a “chance”. You need time and space for change to happen. So many times, we are motivated and know what to do and don’t give it enough time to happen. Have you watered a plant or fed a baby and expected something to happen immediately? What about an exercise program or new diet? Do you expect results immediately? The reality is, anything good (change) takes time.
Have you heard the expression “KISS”? Keep It Simple Stupid. Life can be easy if we let it be easy. Try it and you might learn change is fun and fun is good.
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