Sunday, July 11, 2010

Change comes from the inside

There you are, sitting in your chair, thinking about work. Budgets need balancing, resources need allocating, costs need cutting, staff needs managing and the work still needs to get done. It's hard, and it's all on you. That's why they pay you the big bucks. You've been doing this for years. And you're good at it.

All of a sudden somebody tells you that you're doing it wrong. That's not likely to go over very well. You're doing it exactly right, thank-you very much.

If instead, you discover how you could do it better thanks to a conversation, a book or a presentation, that's just you keeping an eye out for ways you could do things better. That's the regular improvement you expect from a top notch performer like yourself.

Both of these insights have the potential to improve your end result, but only one of them will. Why? It matters who initiates the change.

The difference between starting with a receptive state of mind and starting as if you already know it all is a big one. So is the difference between choosing to make the change yourself and having it imposed on you.

When you decide to improve something, you recognize that you could be better, and that's something you'd like to do.

However, when someone tries decides to improve you, even if they have the best of intentions, it's a tacit attack on what you've been doing so far, which makes you want to defend yourself.

Think instead of the Aesop's fable about the North Wind and the Sun. The North Wind couldn't blow the cloak off the traveler. Faced with the warmth of the sun however, the traveler removed the cloak on his own.

Do you think that trying to force change will get the results you want? More likely they will dig in and try to stop you. Persuade, don't force. Don't try to change others, help them change themselves.

And if you're still in your chair, keep an eye open for ways you could be better. You already have an idea of what those ways might be. What's more, someone could be helping you without even knowing it. Grab those ideas that make you better and run with them.

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