Most of my work is helping executives and their teams make the shifts they need to make in order to successfully meet bigger goals. It is no easy task. Getting a group of people on the same page to make change sometimes means overcoming several personal agendas before the team can agree to shared goals.
Therein lies the challenge!
Making a change, whether individually or in a group, requires more than commitment to a goal and just “going for it.”
A study conducted at a nationally recognized health clinic revealed that only one in seven people will make the changes they know will make a difference to their quality of life or life itself. This has little to do with commitment and everything to do with the personal ability to make the leap necessary to succeed.
Making change means overcoming deeply engrained habits that feed emotional needs.
Such a shift requires that
- You are energetically committed to your goal.
- Your plan has the right steps to help you move forward.
- You have the right kind of support.
Let’s say you want to become a better listener, and this is the goal you set.
These would be the requirements.
First, you would need to assess your commitment to becoming a better listener. On a scale of one to five, do you rate your desire at a four or above?
If not, you will not succeed in your efforts.
If you find you are lukewarm about a goal, your energy around change will not be enough to help make the change. Perhaps a coworker or family member is after you to make this shift, or it just sounds good to be a better listener. But this is not enough. The goal you set must reflect your agenda, and it must be a strong priority for you.
2. Micro Shifts
Second, your plan must reflect micro shifts toward the goal. Too often, the gap between a vision and where one currently is leaves too vast a gap in order to move forward. In other words, we may have a clear picture of what success looks like, and a good understanding of the gap between where we are and where we want to be. We may even have incremental milestones we want to reach that will tell us that our efforts are succeeding. But these are not yet adequate for a sound plan.
A change journey must be broken down into bite-sized moves forward so the brain recognizes success and is encouraged to keep going. In the example of wanting to be a better listener, it may be too big a jump for you at first to leave your personal agenda aside when listening to others.
Perhaps a first micro shift would be to pause five seconds after the other person finishes talking before you jump in.
Or maybe you decide that you must ask one question about what they are saying before assuming you know what they are talking about.
Bite-sized pieces allow you to feel that you are succeeding, and it is a carrot to the brain to move forward instead of retreating to comfortable old habits.
Finally, the right kind of support is needed in order to feel one is reaching success. This can come in many forms. You can hire a coach, and/or ask two or three trusted friends or colleagues to encourage and hold you accountable. For some, it is enough to surround yourself with positive people who believe in you and your efforts. Whatever means of support you seek; you must make sure you remove negative roadblocks in the form of people who don’t want you to change.
This may sound odd. However, we are all creatures of habit, and if someone in our circle begins to behave differently, we will subconsciously feel the difference and attempt to calm the disruption. So be careful of those in your circle of influence who may subtly attempt to sabotage your efforts.
In the example of becoming a better listener, you may have someone who makes fun of you wanting to change. Or they may be someone who possesses a closed mindset, and this is reflected in something like, “Oh, give it up. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Be careful of these underground currents that can push you back, and avoid or eliminate them.
If you will give careful thought to these three steps, you can reach goals you never thought possible. Every time you replace a poor habit with a better one, or you shift a behavior that allows you to operate at a higher capacity, this elevates you to a new altitude, allowing you to see greater vistas and opportunities that were once not visible to you.
© Patti Cotton and patticotton.com. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that attribution is made to Patti Cotton and patticotton.com, with links thereto.
Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive consulting, leadership development, succession planning, change management, and conflict resolution. She is also an experienced Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.