I have spent 16 years in business implementing changes; new processes and new systems. The success always depended on people accepting the change and making it work.
That was always my favourite part of the job: to answer the question “what’s the point?” and see in their eyes the understanding of why we were doing this, whatever “this” was.
People are motivated by the “why” and the “what’s the point”. It’s amazing how successful a project implementation can be once people really buy in.
When the purpose of change is to fulfill your own personal goals in life, in living your dreams, not just a work objective, it’s even more important to understand the why. The result is essential to our well being, to us living our lives courageously and with fulfillment. That’s why I don’t implement projects anymore. I support others to find their own personal “why” so that they can live their lives.
So what does all of that have to do with inspiring change?
I want people to become inspired to change. Not by me but be inspired by themselves and the world around them.
Why? Because change is where the richness of life is found. It is necessary for us to grow and brings us new experiences. It’s part of the process of getting to where we want to be.
Yet at the same time it is terrifying. So many times we are so close to achieving something big but we turn away at the last moment, with some logical and reasonable argument for why we should stay where we are.
With change comes uncertainty. It’s new so we don’t know what it will be like, what will happen. There is risk.
I have a daughter with a chronic illness and experience has taught her that change is painful and unpleasant. She has a great resistance to trying new things and this is how we deal with it:
- Giving space – put no pressure. She doesn’t have to do it or like it.
- Time to play – we give time to get familiar with things, even with just the idea of trying that new thing (especially with food).
- No commitment for life– what if I don’t like it? Then choose something else.
- Calmness – we make it no big deal. She can choose it or not. We just talk about the different impacts of the different choices.
- Belief in her – she is fully capable and can find a way to do what she wants.
- Motivation – now we are back to where I started: Why? What’s the point?
Here’s an example. She has spent a long time being too sick to play outside yet she really wants to do that, just like all other kids. So one day we talked about it and it went something like this:
Me: You want to play with those kids? What for?
Her: Because it’s fun.
Me: What’s fun for you?
She explained and told me about her game and so we played, just the two of us. We had fun, a lot of fun. She has a lot of crazy ideas and there is always a surprising twist to the game.
She didn’t go and play with the other kids that day, or the next, or for the next 6 months. But she had fun with me and learned that new things can be good. Change can be good. Now she plays with the kids in the neighbourhood and even explores on her own in Ballorig.
As a parent I get to see the courageous steps my children take in pursuit of their happiness.
As a coach I have that same privilege to see the transformation that occurs in people when they connect to their “why”.
This is how I describe what happens for me:
“It’s like all the problems seem to melt away. The path forward is clear. Taking that first step is easy, effortless. I can do it without thinking. That voice that tells me I can’t do it, it’s too scary, I’m ok so why mix things up? That voice fades into the background”.
So how do we inspire change? Find out the “why” and with a little bit of support of the other 5 ingredients, the rest will follow.