You May Need to Change

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Strategy, Success, We=All Who Matter, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 1

Ways that worked for you in the past may have stopped working. Some of the tools, ideas, approaches, and attitudes that got you to this place in your business or career may no longer be effective. You are in a different environment now. And you are different–much more capable–now, too.

Here are some common ways that people use even when these ways do not work anymore:

  • “I can make anything happen if I work long and hard enough.”
  • ” I can and should do it on my own. It doesn’t count if I get help.”
  • “My job as leader is to drive others. Criticism, competition, and pressure are my main tools.”
  • “When things start to look bad, I turn on the charm.”
  • ‘Ignore it and it will take care of itself.”
  • “Avoid confrontation, criticism, and risk.”
  • “I have to prove myself.”
  • “It’s best if I hide my light and play small.”

How can you tell if you are relying on old ways that no longer work? Easy. Something in your career or business will be stubbornly stuck. And it will feel bad.

So, you may need to change.


In your corner,


Real change is fast, not slow.

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Career, Leading, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 4 min.
How Long Does it Take?

How long does it take…

  • …to turn around the culture of an organization?
  • …to find your ideal career?
  • …to reform a criminal, change the dynamics in your family, turnaround a business, change a habit? achieve peace in the land,or have balance and satisfaction in your life?

Months? Years? Lifetimes? Strings of attempts ending in failure or at least less-than-hoped for results?

Perhaps. Or perhaps there’s a way to speed things up. Let’s first look at what blocks real, lasting change.

Why change fails or lags

Most change fails because we act at the wrong level. We work the symptoms, not the causes.  We get trapped, for instance, in the drama about things or by the discomfort of looking too deep.  This is true for us as individuals or in organizations.

Getting trapped like that not only delays change and presents hard work, it reinforces the belief that long and difficult is the way of things and that the next change will be long and difficult, too.  More insidiously, we can believe that there’s something deeply, fundamentally wrong with us or our organization.  Look closely, and you’ll see this belief hiding and driving people and organizations everywhere.

Real change is just one thought away.

Here’s how to make real, sustained change quickly.  It starts with just one thought.  Find the right thought at the right level, investigate its truth, and choose a thought that supports your goals.

We tend to start looking at the symptoms; these are our “first thoughts” about the situation.  To go deeper ask two sets of questions:

  1. Where do you or your organization say, “That’s impossible.”?  These indicate you are bumping up against a too-limited view of the world and yourself/your organization in the world.
  2. What question is too painful or sensitive to ask or answer?  These indicate the thought that you or your organization can’t handle reality.  This type of thinking block has power when you don’t investigate them.  They lead to avoidance and stagnation for fear of the consequences.  Far better to jump into the jaws of these questions to realize they are toothless and timid.

Once you’ve found the thought, ask yourself, “Is it true, 100% true?”  Typically it’s not.  Acknowledge your tendency/habit to think like this.  Then decide, “What thought would better support me or us?”

Career Example

Situation: A friend wants to change careers, doesn’t know what he wants, it tired of not knowing (and not having any income) and isn’t taking any action. He’s been struggling for more than a year.

First thoughts: “I am a procrastinator.”  “This is hard.”  “Maybe it’s not meant to be.”

Underlying thought: “I don’t act so others won’t criticize.  I’m afraid of criticism; others will say I can’t have what I want or that I’ve screwed it up.”

Is this true? Pausing here for a moment, he sees it’s not true.  Those he fears would criticize merely express their own lack of direction and certainty.

Better thought: “I see my tendency to avoid possible criticism.  I act anyway to discover my SweetSpot and bring it life in my work.”

Organizational Example

Situation: A company that has enjoyed a large, protected market is now facing stiff competition from new and powerful entrants.

First thoughts: “We can’t change our stripes fast enough to react to these guys.  Our way of doing business is so ingrained and the politics amongst the players inside [think along the lines of management-union divisions] are so bitter that we can only make cosmetic changes; we fiddle while Rome burns.”

Underlying thought: “We cannot change anything because the other party is so unreasonable and so greedy that they rather let the whole thing go to hell rather than change.”

Is it true? Reflecting on the fact that both groups have the same thought about each other, they agree that it might not be true.

Better thought: “Though we’ve fought each other for years, we see there’s probably common grounds for cooperation AND even a possibility that our current organization gives us unique power in the marketplace.”

What’s your thinking?  How long will it take you or your company to change?

Guess what? Leading change is really hard!

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Leading
Reading time: 4 min.

Read the cover story of the May 2005 issue of Fast Company: Change or Die. When you read that changing people’s behavior is difficult–really, really difficult–are you more shocked or are you more relieved? As a leader, do you see this as sad news or is it justification of what you’ve always known? Either way, there’s cause for excitement. Sure, the odds are against you; they are against everyone. But you can beat the odds. Here’s how.

  1. Get the context right – this stuff is hard but worth it. Your success as a leader depends on it. Havard Business School professor John Kotter, as quoted in Fast Company, says, “The central issue is never strategy, structure, culture, or systems. The core of the matter is always about changing the behavior of people.”
  2. Accept reality – if you know how difficult it is to change people’s behavior, you’ll put in the required effort to make change happen. You won’t over-optimistically assume that policy or charisma or any other point solution will handle things. And you won’t brush under the carpet the focus needed to affect change in people.
  3. Understand behavior – study it, query it, confrm it. Make a study of people’s behaviors. There are patterns of behavior out there that you can see and decode. Use tools and methods like the DISC. You’ll be surprised how much you already know. Test your understanding by asking questions. “Has this person given up or am I seeing her quiet-and-committed style?” “How can I diffuse the beligerence of these aggressive types?” Get the input of others to validate you conclusions.
  4. Actively influence and support behavior changeCommunicate. OVERcommunicate! Communicating facts is okay; you’ll win when you address emotions. John Kotter says, “Behavior change happens mostly by speaking to people’s feelings.” And, from the article,
    • Re-define the context of change. People get stuck when they can’t see and break out of their old frames of reference. Give them a new one that’s simple, positive, and resonant.
    • Make bold changes. They’re scarier but they create success faster which supports further change.
    • Provide support. Use as your role definition the CEO in Patrick Lencioni’s book, “The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive.” His advice is to get your team solid, set the vision (“organizational clarity”). constantly re-inforce that vision, and build human systems (e.g. training, compensation, hiring) that support that vision.
  5. Model change youself. The adage, “The fish rots from the head,” says it plainly. If you want to see change in your organization, open to changing yourself. I can’t emphasize this enough. As leader, people look to you for cues. Your organization is ever a reflection of your views and beliefs, stong or weak, positive or negative. It mirrors you. Here are some tips: Give up having to know it all. Give up having to look good. Question practices. Build strong personal habits. Hire a coach! 🙂 Seek feedback. Surround yourself with people of high integrity. Develop your character. Redefine your role as enabler of others. Delegate well. Eliminate stress and build health. Adopt a practical task/action management system. And take everything a step at a time.

You see, you can affect change. You need to find and push on the right levers of vision, emotion, and integrity. I recommend you do this because the alternative isn’t so hot.

Guess what? Leading change is really hard!