Change is hard, ask anyone. As Daniel Goleman points out in “Primal Leadership” one only needs to think back on our previous successes, as well as our failed attempts at change to see it. Our annual pilgrimage to aspiring New Year’s resolutions serves as ample evidence of this. Effectively changing our lives requires us to reverse decades of data that has been hardwired into our brains. How we behave, think, act, and respond to others are born out of many years of cumulated experiences, learning, perceptions, misconceptions, and reinforcement. Making and sustaining change requires a crystal clear vision of where we are going and some compelling evidence into the ‘why’.
In 1995 John Kotter introduced his eight-step change process. He wrote a book entitled “Leading Change” which looks at the process of transforming organizations by changing the behavior of its people. Kotter’s Theory works not only for organizations, but for us as individuals as well. (Stay with me) In his theory Kotter emphasizes that you have to work hard to change an organization successfully. When we plan appropriately, and build a strong foundation change can be easier than we think. Kotter teaches that if we follow the 8 overlapping steps below our chances for success will be improved.
Step 1: Create Urgency
Step 2: Form a Powerful Coalition
Step 3: Create a Vision for Change
Step 4: Communicate the Vision
Step 5: Remove Obstacles
Step 6: Create Short-term Wins
Step 7: Build on the Change
Step 8: Anchor the Changes in Organizational Culture
In August of 2011 I was invited to return to an organization I had previously left. When I left in the winter of 2007 I was tired, frustrated, and needed a change. I found the leadership model to be stuffy and unable to excel in any area other than micro-managing. Since that time I have managed a significant number of teams, some in turmoil, and others highly functioning. Organizational performance is an area that speaks to me like no other. I love the dynamics, I love fishing out opportunities to improve, and I love watching others become both inspired and empowered. So how do we apply Kotter’s Theory to our own personal level of performance? We change! Just as in organizations, if we want to get better at something, if we want to increase our level of performance, we must change. Below are the 8 steps for personal change:
Step 1: Create a sense of Urgency-You are deserving of a life of wellness. Good health feels amazing and it will bring you insurmountable joy. Start today with an urgent commitment to focus on what matters most for you in terms of your health.
Step 2: Form a Powerful Coalition-Success in wellness requires like-minded people on your team. From your physician to coworkers to friends and family, surround yourself with people that are positive and in support of your goals. There are plenty of positive support groups in the social networking circles today too, including Facebook and Twitter
Step 3: Create a Vision for Change-What will it look like when you get to your goal? Is it weight loss, disease management, or maybe even healthier personal relationships? Create a vision board, post positive affirmations.
Step 4: Communicate the Vision-Communicating your vision will be the key to your success and the communication needs to start with your greatest skeptic- Your BRAIN! As mentioned above how we behave, think, act, and respond to others are born out of many years of cumulated experiences, learning, perceptions, misconceptions, and reinforcement. You have to convince your brain that you can do it and that will only happen with the next four steps.
Step 5: Remove Obstacles- What, besides ‘stinkin thinkin’ is preventing you from success? Is it the food in the fridge, finances, fear? One of the best strategies for getting over this hurdle is to hire a coach.I love to help other build their capacity for success by overcoming hurdles.
Step 6: Create Short-term Wins- set your sight on both short term and long term goals. Short term wins carry you like an eagle in a current and serve to fuel motivation. This is another area where coaching can help.
Step 7: Build on the Change: Each change is a stepping stone to success! Each and every small win is a stepping stone to success. Each day you persevere you are building your capacity to succeed!
Step 8: Anchor the Changes in your Life! Your journey to here has been won. It took work and perseverance. Once here, stop to savor and rest and allow this wonderful new way of being to sink in.
Change is an amazing tool; it is our resistance to it that keeps us stuck.
What if you changed today the unhealthy habits that keep you stuck?