Change is constant or as Heraclitus, Greek philosopher said "Change is the only constant." So if it is the only constant, if that is true, why do we still find it so hard to navigate? Or even initiate? A friend of mine says that we never change until we have to or are forced to! Wouldn’t it be great to be in the driver’s seat? In business there are numerous models that look at organisational change. I’m wondering if using these models would help for change that is happening on a more personal and individual level.
In his 1995 book "Leading Change”, Harvard Business school professor, John P Kotter introduced his eight-step change process. Using these 8 steps as our guide, let’s take a look and see if we can develop them into a personal 8 step guide?
Step 1: Create Urgency
From a business point of view, this helps to spark motivation to get things moving. This is done by developing scenarios about what would happen if we didn’t change, or working to really build a convincing argument that this needs to happen now. Kotter talks here of making the connection based on values. Connecting with the heart….strange talk for a business guru? Not so much. On a personal level this speaks to values alignment. What are your values? Is the change you are looking for aligning to your values…truly? There are some great tools for value setting around to help. Here’s a great values clarification exercise developed by Amanda Fleming. A perfect place to start.
Kotter suggests that for change to be successful, 75 percent of a company's management needs to "buy into" the change. Or in other words, we need to be on board and committed to our own change….lets aim for 100%. Put the work in here and the rest will follow.
Step 2: Form a Powerful Coalition
From a business perspective this is about strong leadership and visible support from key people within an organisation. Managing change isn't enough – it has to be lead.
So – on a personal level, find your tribe. Find those people out there who believe in you 100% and get them on board. You can find effective change leaders, mentors and helpers anywhere and often in the most unexpected places. Don’t underestimate the value of people you don’t actually know, yet you hold a high admiration for. Who could you choose to follow on twitter or facebook?. In this crazy age of connection, the more coalitions and networks you can tap into the better. Who is doing what you want to do? Who are the leaders in the field? Who do you admire, who do you align to?
Step 3: Create a Vision for Change
Businesses thrive on vision. Clarity of the vision makes for stronger ambassadors for the change.
I think from a personal perspective here, there is opportunity to expand on just having a vision. This is about clarity of purpose. What is your purpose? What are you here to achieve? What is the change you want? Once you have this clear it can be developed into a vision.
What is your personal vision? What are you imagining of yourself in 3 years, 5 years time? What are you saying of yourself in 3 years, 5 years time? Practice your "vision speech" often – make sure it rolls off your tongue and that you can embody it. Putting it down in pictures can help as well.
The next step of this is to create the strategy to execute the vision. This is the step by step approach to assisting life to conspire to create the vision that you are holding.
Step 4: Communicate the Vision
In a business sense this is really important – to keep modelling the vision and walking the talk. Not so different when thinking on a personal level. How well the vision is held, after you create it, is the key. Watch your ‘self talk’. How often do you hear yourself boo-hooing your vision. Your vision can be embedded in everything that you do. Here is the opportunity to stay focussed. Keep your ‘self talk’ positive and encouraging.
Use the vision to inform your daily decisions.
It's also important to "walk the talk." The more you work and do things towards the change you imagine, the more real it becomes, the more you will believe it to be possible.
Step 5: Remove Obstacles
There are always going to be obstacles. Obstacles can be seen as opportunities. They can also be sign posts and reminders. Obstacles in business can be those staff who want to derail the change process. In life obstacles can be people as well. Who are the people in your life that are holding you back from manifesting the change? Who are the non-believers?
Think about this:
How many people in your life have put you down, or really pulled the rug out from under you? How many have really had a negative and lasting impression on you?
Conversely – how many people have you met that have had a positive effect on you, or people who truly believe in you, or people who simply like you?
I bet that more people believe in you than not. In fact Brendon Burchard reckons the ratio is around 1000 to 5. That is 1000 people think you’re great, 5 are yet to be convinced. The crazy thing is we tend to give more credence to the non-believers. So here’s something to change – who are you really going to listen to?
Surround yourself with believers, focus on them and the obstacles will diminish.
What are the other obstacles? What are the personal beliefs that you are holding on to that are pot holes in your path? The feelings of: “not good enough”; too fat, too skinny, too old, too young. Become aware of your thoughts and beliefs, name them and notice them and work to view yourself differently.
Step 6: Create Short-term Wins
Nothing motivates more than success. Give yourself a taste of victory early. Within a short time frame (this could be a month or a year, depending on the type of change), you'll want to have results that you can see and feel. This could be as simple as actioning and completing one goal. Doing something everyday towards your vision by creating short-term targets that can help you feel like there is progress. Each small target needs to be achievable.
Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they seem.
There is a great and easy process that really helps this along.
Start your day by making a short list (3 can be good to start) of things you will achieve on that day. Make sure everything on the list is absolutely doable. Make sure these short term wins are heading in the direction of the change you want to make. Also make sure there is always something lovely that you are doing for yourself and only for yourself. Like buying a bunch of flowers, taking a walk on the beach. Whatever it is, once you have completed it, cross it off. The goal is to have everything crossed off at the end of the day and then you can celebrate….and make sure you do!
Step 7: Build on the Change
There is a Japanese word and theory called kaizen that is about continuous incremental improvement. This is a great idea to put into practice here. It is about the art of making great and lasting change through small, steady increments, which is so often used in business settings. A great resource here is One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer, who proposes that kaizen can be also be a powerful personal change development tool. It champions the idea of starting small to create lasting change. Start with one less mouthful, with one more minute. Big discoveries are in the detail, and the detail is small. So, starting to do the ‘small win’, wins. Crossing off achievements every day, wins. Each of these successes provides an opportunity to build on what felt right and identify where you can improve.
Step 8: Anchor the Changes in Corporate Culture
Kotter talks here of corporate culture needing the change so it becomes part of the core of the organizational culture. Our opportunity here is to see our lives as our culture and the change we are striving for as a reflection of that culture. How we operate in the world, will by definition, need to change to achieve the shifts we are after.
Make continuous efforts to ensure that the change is seen in every aspect of your life. This will help give that change a solid place in your life’s culture.
Things that help this process are telling your story. Be proud of the changes you have implemented and tell your success story, loudly and often. Make sure you listen out for and hear the compliments and positive strokes that are coming your way about the changes you are making.
Remember that stepping out of your comfort zone is where learning and change happens. It isn't always easy, but it's always worth it!