Making Personal Change

By | November 8, 2007

People live with change constantly: in a lifetime, everyone goes through personal transformation from infancy to adolescence, young adulthood, middle age and finally old age. A career path may lead from subordinate to junior management, middle management, senior management and even on to board level or consultancy.

Change has been described as the single most important element of successful business management today. To remain competitive in increasingly aggressive markets, organisations (and the people in them) need to adopt a positive attitude to change. Ignoring, or trivialising a changing trend can be very costly.

Many of us fear change and the uncertainties it will create. Frequently, we believe that the changes will only be temporary and therefore we will end up feeling disappointed or let down.

Below are three simple principles of change that are very powerful when consistently and skilfully applied. If you are seeking to make some form of personal change, applying these principles will significantly improve the results you achieve.

  1. Raise Your Standards
    If you are sincere about making the change the first step is to raise your standards. Standards describe the minimum level of performance and quality that you are prepared to accept. It is important to understand the difference between a goal and a standard. Goals and objectives are aspirational; they are targets you plan to work towards. However, the best of intention does not always result in action.

    Raising the standard, or minimum level of acceptance of something, means that you will simply not tolerate anything less and as a result will have to take action when the standard is not met.

  2. Change Your Limiting Beliefs
    If you raise your standards, but don’t really believe you can meet them you’ve already sabotaged yourself. Our beliefs are like unquestioned commands telling us how things are. Our beliefs tell us what is possible and what is not possible, what we can and can’t do; they shape every action, every thought and every feeling that we experience. This means that changing our belief systems is central to making any real and lasting change in our lives.

    The dictionary defines belief as ‘acceptance as true, feeling of certainty’.

    Most of our beliefs are generalisations about our past, based on interpretations of painful and pleasurable experiences. This provides a challenge: Most of us do not consciously decide what we are going to believe. Often our beliefs are based on misinterpretations of past experiences. Once we adopt a belief we forget it is merely an interpretation.

    We treat our beliefs as reality, we rarely, if ever question long held beliefs.

    Beliefs can be simplified into three main strengths:

    a. Opinion – easily swayed, based on impressions

    b. Belief – larger reference base, strong emotions, sense of certainty

    c. Conviction – emotionally intense, obsession, closed to new input, prepared to take action.

    A simple way of understanding a belief is to think about its base building block: an idea. Now whether it’s an idea or a belief will come down to the amount of certainty you feel about the idea. The more certain you feel, the stronger the belief. The level of certainty comes form the reference experiences you have had that underpin the idea.

    A good metaphor to use to help with this concept is a table.

    The belief is stated on the table top, but what gives the table its strength are the legs, or reference experiences that underpin it.


  3. Change Your Strategy
    Strategies are how you organise your thoughts and behaviour to accomplish a task.

    To understand strategies think of a master chef. If you use his recipe, you will probably be able to cook as well as he does, or very close. A strategy is a successful recipe. To make a wonderfully tasty dish, you need to know three basic things:
    – What the ingredients are
    – Quantity and the quality of each ingredient
    – The correct order of steps

    The ingredients in the thought process will be something you see, hear or feel. The quality and quantity will be how you represented those ingredients.

    Strategies create results – using the same strategy in the same circumstances produces the same result – much like a recipe.

    We all have strategies we use for everything we do. We probably have no idea what they are. However are we getting the results we want? Do we arrive where we want to go? Any strategy, like a train, works perfectly well, but if you get on the wrong one……. you will go somewhere you do not want to go. Don’t blame the train.

    If you are unhappy with the results you are getting in something how often do you ‘try harder’? What we normally mean by try harder is use the same strategy with more passion or speed. It is unlikely to work. Far easier to identify someone who gets the results you are after and find out what their strategy is. If you are happy with it, use it – it has a much greater chance of success.

If you are looking to make a lasting and successful change following these simple steps to explore why you are not getting the results you want and consider modelling someone who already gets the results you are seeking. Establish and compare:

  1. The standards each of you is applying
  2. The beliefs each of you has about the situation
  3. The strategies each of you uses to obtain the results

As you head into 2008, making your New Year resolutions, these types of changes are ones that you could be thinking of making. To help you reach a higher level of personal insight and quality of contribution, our From Management To Leadership course will take people to new places.

For further information contact us.

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