WRITE008 Courage to Change (the things that we can…)

Posted on : 03-12-2012 | By : Lynn | In : Featured, Heart Talks


Of course asking for the courage to change the things we can is really asking for the courage to change ourselves. Sure, we can persuade, cajole even try to manipulate, control and worse someone else but in the end its ourselves that we can only change (thought, word, deed).

Coming down to the end of a Leadership and Professional Development class where we’re using the book, “Level Three Leadership: Getting Below the Surface“, Fifth Edition by James G. Clawson.  I’ve been studying for the final exam and breezing through the last chapters that will be on the test but found myself actually getting distracted by the text in the chapter about “Leading Change”.  It talks about stuff that those of us who have been in the business world for awhile know such as that “Over the course of our lives, we become comfortable with a certain set of behaviors….”  And that “In business, many managers, especially Industrial Age managers, ascribe to the maxim “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and see in stable, historically routines a way of generating steady cash flows, building leverage, managing margins and realizing returns of past investments.”

But then the chapter delves into something that takes several pages to explain and that is about “disconfirming data”.  This is first introduced to us when talking about our comfort zone and baseline behavior.  That “if after long periods of receiving confirming data about our baseline behavior, we get some discomfirming data, we face a choice about what to do.” Clawson talks about how “Disconfirming data are a challenge to our self-concept, because they say that what we just did doesn’t work anymore”.   He goes on to expound on the acceptance process of the discomfirning data and that breaking out of our comfort zone and trying to do difficult sometimes painful new things is what M. Scott Peck was talking about in his book, “The Road Less Traveled”. Basically, what he is saying is we humans do not usually want to break out of our comfort zone unless we absolutely have to do so and usually it is because the pain is so great that we are willing to do something different.

Clawson goes on to discussing the building of a Change Team, Designing and Leading Change Experiments as well as Relentlessly Reinforcing Results with the New Vision.   The  net-net is that what businesses do that realize they must embrace the discomfirming data and change is to find lots and lots of support to help them through the change process from the very leaders who will be championing the changes to take place, to hiring outside resources who can come in with an objective eye and compassionate heart to see what is not working and what can work to instigating lots of positive reinforcement for everyone who is trying something new.

You can take a cue from these businesses and realize that asking for and finding the courage to change for yourself is something you do not have to do on your own. Whether it is stretching your belief system to think about faith in something bigger than yourself to finding friends who you can ask (and give) support when needed.  It’s out there when we’re willing to open up our minds (and hearts) and do some footwork to find the support systems we need to make the changes.  Little plug in here for coaching.  This is the kind of thing that I do as a Coach (support people in making a change in their lives) and many other great Coaches do out here in the world for others.

One last tip.  Clawson notes the work of Robert Maurer, “who argues that most change efforts fail because we try to do too much at once.  Maurer argues that in managing individual change, we should begin with tiny, incremental changes that are not threatening or difficult in any way.  When we choose bigger steps, he says, our natural, innate flight-or-fight response system kicks in and we are likely to relapse. On the other hand, when we begin with things that are utterly nonthreatening we can easily get some small wins, and these gradually build to the point where we can do more.”

Now for those of us whose change may be something like putting down the drink, drug, food, nicotine, sex or some other form of addiction that is a big change to make….but….it’s been many of our experiences who have done just that, that when we ask for the courage to change, we are given the courage to change.  Then we cash in on our willingness to change what we can where we can and take the action steps to help us get there.

What would you like the courage to change today?

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