In my 15 years of coaching I have worked with many senior executives from a wide range of industries with the objective of helping them to grow their performance whether it be in the conference room or in other areas of life that are important to them. There are so many executives who know they are operating in thinking patterns that are limiting their performance as leaders and yet they find the challenge of building more effective patterns somewhat of a challenge.
They fear they will fail to live up to it. If we know we are under performing or we are capable of achieving more then what stops us from crossing that bridge and implementing change fully?
When it comes to change we cannot focus on everything meaning we have to make choices and these choices have to relate to what is important to you right now taking account of the challenges you have to focus on and what actions you are going to take. The bottom line is that my clients usually want to strengthen some area of their performance that will support them in achieving specific outcomes they want. So I know it is pretty obvious but the first step has to be to get very clear on what you want as your outcome and to pay attention to knowing why you want this change and what you must do differently to achieve it. all clear so far? then what makes real change so difficult?
Here are some thoughts for you to ponder on as you reflect on your own track record when it comes to change....
A useful place to start is to remind yourself that nothing changes unless we start to do things differently or stop doing things that hinder us in some way. This often means we have to deliberately create time, effort and attention in order to carry out new ways of operating. If not, what really happens is that the current thinking patterns or habits we run will continue to operate. In practice if we don’t create the environment for change to happen then we will remain faithful to our current ways.
Reflecting on this question –
“so what makes change “hard” for most of us”? How often have we intellectually recognized we can do things differently and as a result be more effective in what we do but we just seem to persist with the old way? How often do we start off with the best of intentions to carry out a new way of operating only to allow ourselves to drift back to the old habitual way of operating within days of starting out? Sounds familiar?
For a lot of us the answer really is that we just don’t make the change a “must” and mean it! Instead we create what amounts to a simple “wish” which lacks any real determination to do things differently and make the change stick. Pause for a moment and just reflect on this point: when you make a real decision then there is no going
Another reason that makes change hard for people is that they don’t actually create space to allow change in. Look, to create a new way of doing something initially requires deliberate conscious thinking to take place. That is, we need to have awareness about what is going on and what choices we want to make in terms of how we want to respond. For many we are running a busy life and we just don’t stop to think about how we want to respond. So many of our responses are automatic as indeed our the behaviours we engage in doing. So we have to become more present and create thinking space to help new ways of operating to come in. I think there is a simple choice here – you do create this space and grow awareness and choice or you remain a prisoner of your old habits. Without your intervention there is no change!
For change to happen we need to be clear on what we are going for. Again another stumbling block is that we don’t often clearly define what we want or why we want it. A good test here is to ask yourself what will let you know when you have achieved your outcome? What will be different? Also, If we are not aligning change with our values then this gives what we want very little motivational juice.
Sometimes it is also useful as you start the journey of changing any unwanted behaviours or to create a new one is to think about what the benefits are going to be for you. How will achieving this add value to your life? Also what are the consequences you must put up with if you choose to fail to take the actions?
So at the end of the day if you really want to make something happen it is usually more down to aligning values and beliefs rather than capability. We all know far more than we put into practice. So we need to think about what do we do to limit what is possible for us to achieve. This means tuning into the assumptions we make like the change is going to be more emotionally demanding to make than staying where we are. Being creatures of habit we do like to stay in the comfort zone!!
So now would be a good time to come back to yourself and perhaps reflect on your own track record when it comes to change. How do you do “change” best? What works well for you? Perhaps the above points may give you a clue to work from. However the more aware you are the more you can start to exercise choice. The more you know what you want and why you want it and then identify what you must do and take the actions the more you are going to enjoy bringing change in without having regrets of not completing. This is where my clients find that by engaging in a coaching programme they create that space in their busy schedule to reflect on what they are doing and challenge how they are investing to use their time, energy and attention and is it in the areas that really matter to them? it also gives them the opportunity to engage with me in a way that encourages them to substitute excuses for real actions as this is their opportunity to check in and face their own reality in a true adult way.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments!