For the past two years, in addition to my regular day job, I’ve been researching what it takes for people to make meaningful and purposeful change.
It has been fascinating.
I’ve talked with a number of people about their change journeys. I’ve read countless books and journal articles on change. I’ve been introduced to a number of new insights from neuroscience, motivational theory, behavioral economics and habit formation that, when brought together, can have a huge impact on how people can effectively change. I have identified what I think are six major components that help drive successful change.
I’ve lived this, breathed it, and dreamed it…
I’ve not been able to keep my own change habits going.
At the beginning of the year I had set out to write five pages a week on change (not quite a New Years resolution, but very close). I thought that would be a manageable goal and one that would allow me have enough material for a book on change by the end of the year.
Five pages a week isn’t even a page a day – how hard could that be?
“ The bottom line in all of it is that, in life, it’s all about people.” Colin Powell
I saw Colin Powell speak way back in the 1990’s and I can still remember one part of his speech. He talked about how he had two dogs – a small dog and a big dog. He stated that his small dog was the alpha and had no fear. He stated that this was because the small dog’s only reference point was the big dog. It looked at the other dog, saw that it was big and powerful, and assumed that it must be big and powerful itself.
It is often the same with people. We tend to use the people around us as reference points on who we are.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that, “A person’s chances of becoming obese increased by 57% if he or she had a friend who became obese in a given interval.” (Christakis & Fowler, 2007). The theory of self concept explores how we view ourselves – which is shaped by who we hang out with and who we surround ourselves with. Jim Rohn states, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
So it’s all about the people you surround yourself with.
Do they have a positive outlook or a negative one? Do they work hard or not? Do they live life to the fullest or complain about what they are lacking?
So ask yourself this – who is in your circle of friends?
Tying into the video from yesterday, this presentation by Shawn Achor, author of “The Happiness Advantage” reminds us that we are fulfilled and happy, not because we are successful, but we are successful because we are fulfilled and happy. Again, we need to focus in on the journey.
Take a moment to think about how this applies to motivation and to work? How do we instill happiness as a part of our job role?
In the 1990’s, I was introduced to Appreciative Management and Inquiry as laid out by Dr. David Cooperrider. In his books he identified that many organizations and leaders focus in on the negative. What get’s attention in the business world, is not so much the successes, but when we make a mistake. Think about the last time you got a call from your boss or boss’s boss – was it when you achieved your sales target or when you missed it? Which had more salience for you? Organizations, Cooperrider contends, need to do a better job at focusing our thoughts and effort on the positive.
When we look for the positive inside organizations (positive inquiry) we tend to find positive things. This reinforces our mindset and we start seeing the positive things all around us. Restating the line from Field of Dreams, “if you look for it, you will find it.” It is a reinforcement loop that helps us weather the downturns and firestorms that always occur.
We all need to start looking for the positive things in our lives – both at work and at home. I start by trying to be grateful for something everyday. You can try it too.
A big hearty thanks goes out to Bob Ebbers of Workplace Stars for sharing the Shawn Anchor video with me – as Bob said, “Enjoy this gem!” I couldn’t agree more!
Leave a thought by clicking on the comment section below! Come on – its fun.
This past weekend has to be one of the strangest weekends of my life.
It started with me coming off of a grueling two-day program that had frankly, stressed me out. That meeting ended Friday at 2:00 PM at which time I headed straight home and got ready to drive two hours to a wedding. When I got home, I quickly changed, gave the au pair marching orders for delivering our 20-month old to the grandparents, and took off my wife and 5 year old son for the trip to Mankato where the wedding started at 5:30 PM. We were on the road by 3:30 PM.
So far so good.
Then the text from Orbitz came, “MSG: DL 848 to BOS cancelled.”
See, I was supposed to be flying out to Boston along with three other facilitators on Saturday to do a program on Sunday for a client. We had known that Hurricane Irene was closing in on the east coast, but the reports that I had seen didn’t have it near Boston until Sunday. Apparently Delta had some different information.
I had two main client contacts – I called them both up. No answer – so I left messages. I then e-mailed the clients from my i-phone with this message “Flights Cancelled. I just received a text saying our flight is cancelled due to hurricane Irene. I am checking on getting a different flight.” It was about 4:30 PM.
The message came back from the client at 4:41 PM, it said, “Thanks Kurt.”
Huh? I would have liked a little more information please.
Needless to say, I was working the phone and e-mail. I contacted Delta and instead of waiting for 42 to 54 minutes on hold, I had them give me a call back when my time was set. Over the course of the next 40 minutes I traded more e-mails with both clients. The meeting was still on – it seems like none of the participants were having any problems in getting into Boston (even though they were coming from around the world – Europe, Brazil, China, India and the U.S.). They must NOT have been flying Delta. I contacted my team of guys who were flying out there with me. I got a hold of two of them who were offering to help however they could.
So it was now about 5:20 PM and we were almost at the church. Then I got this text from our Au Pair, “Sitting outside Grandma and Grandpa’s for 45 minutes – no one is home to take baby.”
I now had another crisis on hand. Quickly texted back that we’d try to find the grandparents, gave a few unsuccessful calls to their home and cell phones when I received my call back from Delta service (it had been in the 42 to 54 minute range). The Delta rep searched for another option into Boston and came up with nothing available that could get us in either directly or through a connection. All the flights were either full or cancelled.
It was 5:33 the wedding was starting. I sat down in the pew and for the next 40 minutes tried to concentrate on the ceremonies. Luckily there was no cell phone service in the church so I wasn’t tempted to check e-mails every minute.
Once outside the church I scanned the e-mail and text barrage. A couple more e-mails from the client stating that the meeting was still happening. A few more from my facilitators wondering what they could do to help. A text from the Au Pair that she had gone home to feed the baby because our 20-month old had been hungry and thirsty.
I thought about pulling my hair out at this point but I’m bald – so that didn’t help.
At this point, my wife came outside and we discussed what we should do. We were prepared to go home to relieve the Au Pair. We tried calling the grandparents again. And I was thinking through various options for being able to work the program in Boston – I thought of maybe trying to rent a car to drive out to Boston, finding other facilitators in Boston who could conduct it, try to figure out a teleportation device that could beam us there directly. I was getting a little desperate.
I came across this and it really moved me. While I am grateful for a lot of things in my life, I don’t know if I could be this positive, this upbeat, this grateful if I did not have arms and legs. What a powerful message for us all to realize that our attitude comes, not from the things we have or don’t have, but in how we approach life. Do you approach life like Nick Vujicic and see the possibilities or only the limitations. I can achieve only a small fraction of his outlook on life I will be a much better person. Enjoy and learn.
Over the last few years I’ve used 3×5 index cards to jot down things that I need to do more often. These were often written in response to a particular need I felt I had or a specific situation. Some where just thoughts that I had to try to make my life a little better. It started simple with a note to “Go outside and play with the dog.” It expanded to 32 ideas that have helped me stay grounded. Here is what the two cards look like (notice they are stapled together – I should have used a larger index card):
Whats important to me
I have this posted on my bulletin board in front of me everyday. I don’t always do these…but I often do. It helps ground me and keep me motivated. It helps me escape the trap of working all the time. I hope that it helps keep me balanced. I thought you might enjoy.
Here are the items in case you can’t read my bad handwriting along with some additional commentary:
1. Go outside and play with the dog
2. Take a five minute stretch break
3. Focus on the BIG stuff
4. Drink tea
5. Write thank you’s
6. Call old friends [We never seem to do this enough]
7. Eliminate the trivial
8. Clean up after yourself [this was in response to my overly messy desk]
9. Appreciate the moment
10. Get involved
11. Surprise someone by doing something nice
12. Take a walk
13. Notice the little things
14. Cook a good meal (at least) once a week [ok, I just added in the “at least” – really, just once a week isn’t nearly enough]
15. Enjoy the mundane
16. Have coffee with acquaintances
17. Escape e-mail
18. Drive out and watch the sunset [I live in the city and it is hard to see a good sunset on the horizon like in my youth in Iowa]
Moving to the second card…
19. Think ahead, not behind [I tend to worry too much about what I should have done and not what I need to do]
20. Make a commitment a week
21. Watch less t.v.
22. Keep a journal
23. Buy flowers
24. Appreciate touch and smell
25. Take big breathes [I find that it helps to calm one self and refocus energy]
26. Change the negative patterns
27. Move around – change the scene
28. Motivate yourself
29. Embed beauty in your memory
31. Pay for memories [not things]
32. Write down good stories
33. [Express your gratitude] – I need to add this to the card!
If you have other ideas or comments to add to this list – I would love to hear them. Add them to the comments section below!
Ok, I might be trying a little hard to find some gratitude on this one, but…
I was skiing last week with some friends while we were working on developing a conference (a cool conference that includes skiing activities that help solidify key insights…yes, the one I talk about in the previous post…but that is another story). On the last run of the second day (after I had written the previous post), I caught an edge, had the tip of my ski catch and flipped over, twisting my knee. At the doctor the next day, they said that I have a slightly torn MCL.
This week I came out to Montana with my family and some friends to ski at Big Sky. We had planned this vacation for months. We were looking forward to having some time away, teaching our kids how to ski, and enjoying the mountains.
Everyone skied yesterday except for me.
I did a little work, took pictures, captured some video, and got groceries. I kept myself busy.
Today they are off again but instead of keeping myself busy I’m all alone watching the snow fall down at a rate of a few inches an hour (fresh powder). I really want to go out on the hill and ski – but my knee is not quite ready (hopefully tomorrow).
But here is what I’m grateful for…I have a day to relax and enjoy. I sat this morning with a cup of coffee watching the snow fall softly and cover the evergreen branches with a white coat. I watched a bird I couldn’t recognize fly into the evergreens and saw the snow cascade down in a torrent to the ground as the birds wings hit the branches. The mountain is hidden in mist and snow, but outside is beautiful. There is a calm quiet that permeates this place which I can’t find in Minneapolis. I’ve been given a day of contemplation. One in which I can think and be grateful for all that I have.
I could be bitter…I could be mad at the fact that I am stuck here now because I was stupid last week. But what good would that do me? So instead I choose to use this time and enjoy it.
I choose to be grateful.
And so…while I would like to be out skiing and feeling the fresh powder under my skis…I am thankful for this alone time in such a beautiful setting.
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