Achieving big goals involves change so I spend a lot of my time looking at how to help people change. There are lots of different techniques and theories and that’s good because different tools work with different people. I’ve recently been reading about a different way to look at change and in this post, I’d like to share some thinking so that you can start reflecting on what may be stopping change in certain areas of your life.
I promise a practical post soon with more tools but I think when it comes to change, reflection is a great tool in itself. For this to be effective, may I suggest that as you read on, you think of one New Year resolution you’ve made year on year and have continuously failed to achieve. And don’t feel bad, we all have those.
Technical change versus transformation
Did you know that the things you want to change will fall into two categories: technical or transformation? Technical type changes are the type of changes where you know the solution in advance. You want to learn to dance, you go to a dance class. Technical change, technical solution. Transformational change, on the other hand, is when you don’t really know up front how to effect the change because what is required is a transformation: a different way of looking at the world, new values and new beliefs.
How does knowing this help me?
One of the problem that occurs is when you try to solve a transformational type change with a technical solution. So let’s say you want to lose weight. Going on a diet is a technical solution. It will only work for you if your challenge is technical. For example, let’s say you’ve slowly started over eating but there is no fundamental emotional problem behind it. I put on lots of weight with both my pregnancies. There weren’t any real emotional problems behind this so both times, I joined Weight Watchers after the baby was born and successfully lost weight. Technical challenge, technical solution.
But take the example of someone who over eats to fill a void in their life or a lack of worth. A challenge that requires a transformation in their thinking. They may go on a diet and lose some weight but it is likely that unless they address their emotional issues, they will put the weight back on once they come off the diet because they have failed to transform their thinking. So they are addressing a transformation challenge with a technical solution.
How can I tell the difference
If you are consistently failing to bring change in one area, it is likely that you are applying a technical solution to a problem that requires a transformation. If the change you want is a new one and you’re not sure, I would probably do a visualisation exercise to figure out whether I feel comfortable with the results. Let’s say you want to become a public speaker. Use the visualisation exercise in the Free Resources section and note how you feel at the end. Do you feel excited by your dream? Did any fears come up?
Also, if your dream is a big one, chances are you will need both technical solutions and transformation. This is why my book Make It Fly includes both. The first part of the book is technical: defining your dream, planning. Although in the first part, we do start visualising and uncovering issues, it’s really only when you get to the Get Out of Your Own Way section that it becomes more about transformation. So, if you are going for a big project in 2014, I would think you’ll need both technical and transformation type solutions.
How do I know what I need to transform?
Typically, what you’ll need to transform is the way you look at the world so that you can rid yourself of a limiting belief or fear. I often mention an example from my own life where having been raised a catholic, I had an unconscious belief that making money was wrong. It was only the day I realised this that I was able to start asking for salaries / rates that equated the value of what I was providing. In this case, the belief was one that was past on by others and it wasn’t a strong one. So a change of perspective occurred just by becoming aware this was the issue. If you hold some strong limiting believes, it is likely that you will need more than just knowing about them in order to transform. This is where coaching or even counselling come in. But I don’t want to discuss tools and methods just yet.
Waht does this mean at work?
In my work with organisations, I often find that what is called a ‘transformation programme’ is often really a set of technical solutions: new process, new system or reorganisation. Sometimes, these will naturally bring about some transformational change. For example, if you change the structure, you may get a change in values: think of the open plan office to foster more communication. This will only work though if the issue was the walls and people were keen to communicate already. If people weren’t communicating because of a lack of trust in each other and the company then, it is unlikely that bringing down the walls would improve communications. There would also need to be a transformation of the belief ‘my colleagues and organisation cannot be trusted’.
My aim today was to get you to start thinking about change this way. I’ll spend more time on what we can effectively do to transform and will present you with some tools in future post. For now, think of your New Year’s resolutions and ask yourself: which ones need a technical solution? which ones need a transformation? which ones need both?
Did this post spark some thoughts? Please share.