Hopefully the title of this entry brought to mind the beginning of the Rolling Stones song of the same name (better than hearing me try to sing it!). I thought it was appropriate given my experiences over the past 2-3 months. We can find hundreds of articles on change and how how important it is in business and our personal lives. We can watch multiple reality tv shows that deal with making changes. We can also recount to our friends and family the number of times we have tried to change things in our own lives. At the end of all this, what do we think? Quite simply, I think fundamental change is the most difficult and challenging thing we face in our lives. It is so easy to identify something that we need to change, yet so tremendously difficult to sustain a change. I think the most important point to make is that I do not believe there are degrees of difficulty in change. There are not small or large changes to make. Change is change. This said, why the difficulty?
Since I am basing this on my own experiences, that is what I will recount. For several years I worked as a consultant for clients who owned their own businesses. It became clear to me during that time that people struggle with modifying their behaviors even when they recognize them as detrimental. There have been hundreds (perhaps thousands) of studies done on the topic and they are fascinating to read but the fact remains that there is no single method that anyone/everyone can use to make change stick in their lives. I think the easiest way to reconcile all of this research is to accept that just as each of is different, the method we would use to enact change must be different as well. It has to resonate within our being and connect to who we are. By this same token, the one thing I do believe is that when we are able to achieve this, change will happen. The minute we can reconcile external feedback with internal assumptions and see clearly they are at odds, we will move forward.
The key is accepting external data as true. We tend to rationalize and/or minimize feedback and even become selective in solciting it so we can ensure it aligns with what we already think. Once we can disassociate ourselves from the process begin to analyze things objectively, there is a chance we can identify issues. This is only step one. It is then the real work begins. At this point it is up to each of us to determine the appropriate next step(s) and move ourselves forward.
While we may not be so inclined, we would do well to remember “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” (W. Edward Deming)