In the fascinating book “Change or Die” by Alan Deutschman attempts to answer the question “Could you change when change matters most?” But according to numerous studies the answer is “No” …more than 9 out of 10 (statistical math) people don’t change their lifestyles and/or behaviors… even when their lives depend on it! I don’t know about you, but that leaves me feeling both comforted and terrified. Comforted because at least I’m not alone in finding it so damn difficult to really do anything different. But I’m terrified because with odds like that, do I even stand a chance? Why bother? I am doomed before I even get started!
This book does suggest that it is possible to effect meaningful, sustainable change. But the real meat here is “how to change when change isn’t coming naturally. When it stays difficult. When you are stuck.”
Ok, so now what? Deutschman does offer the subtitle to help us out… “The Three Keys to Change at Work and in Life.” I can already hear you asking for those keys, please. So, let’s take a look at that first key to change.
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That person or community has to sell you on yourself and help you realize that you do, in fact, have the ability to change. They have to sell you on themselves as your partners, mentors, role models, or sources of new knowledge. In other words, they have to build trust in them as both support and guides. Lastly, they have to sell you on the particular techniques or approaches that they use.
How does show up in real life? Obviously, we wouldn’t want to miss it!
I’m sure the first example that leaps to mind for most people is the once anonymous, but now well-known 12-step programs. But your life doesn’t need to be in that dire state of chaos to have this “key of change” available to you. For example, you begin realizing that you regularly seem agitated, that you haven’t had a really good night’s sleep since you can’t remember when, that feeling sore and stiff is now your norm… something’s gotta give. But what? And how?
After talking to a friend that never seems to have any of these issues about what they do, you decide to try yoga. Yes, yoga. (Just an example… if it’s too much for you, [insert activity of choice here.]) A quick googling directs you to a class at the local rec center that is happening that night… so off you go. Once there, you will be evaluating the place, the people, the class, everything, looking for those criteria. Are the teacher and the other yogis nice? Welcoming? Encouraging? Maybe the much older woman next to you tells you a story about how bad off she was when she started… but now look, she’s a pretzel! The teacher talks to you after class and tells you how well you did for a first class. You start to think, “Hmm, maybe I can do this.”
You make it back for the next class. The older woman greets you warmly, and suggests you can follow her if you need to. The teacher checks on you to answer any questions you might have, and during class makes a point of showing you the pose modifications suited to your current state, (or lack thereof) flexibility… reminding you to be gentle with yourself as you learn. You really get the feeling that they are here to help you.
If this is how your experience flows, then this change may stick… at least you have the first part down. In the next part of this series we will spend some time with the second key – Repeat.
Can you think of a time in your life when all of the elements of the first key were in place? How did they show up? What difference did that make for you? How did it support your ability to create change in your life?