7 Reasons Lasting Change Is So Difficult
Why is lasting change so difficult to sustain?
As a coach and career learning professional, it is my job to provide clients with the tools and resources to help them make the changes they desire in their work and life. The expectation of providing these tools and resources is that the individual will grow and have new skills to help them overcome challenges, move through blockers, and sustain a new way of working that would help them grow their career.
I find one of the challenges to true development is the limited way we think about growth in organizations.
While growing our knowledge & skills are important to our development, it’s the way we relate to what we know and the meaning that we make, that determines true development and last change.
When development is occurring, our perspectives expand, we become more aware of how we affect the world around us, we begin to see our blind spots, and it is from these places that we develop.
Here’s what I’ve learned about the reasons lasting change is difficult.
- Skills are insufficient if they’re layered on top of mindsets that run counter to them. What does this mean? It means that if you want to be a better communicator, and underneath it all you really believe that people are idiots, there are no number of skills or courses that will keep that attitude from seeping through.
- We ALL have attitudes, hurts, and fears that live in the unconscious and drive our daily behavior. Though we may like to be seen as thick-skinned and unemotional, underneath the surface most people have a lifetime of unprocessed experiences. These need to be excavated and compassionately understood before they can be transformed.
- There are no quick fixes. Have you ever written a performance goal and tried with all your might to not do something? “I won’t lose my cool. I’ll stay calm.” It’s like telling a child “don’t think about elephants”. It becomes all you can do or you exhaust yourself by biting your tongue, sitting on yourself, and feeling incredibly untrue to yourself.
- You can’t ‘positive’ yourself through this. I am a big proponent of positive psychology and at looking at our darker, unconscious side. Even positive psychologists are acknowledging the importance of our darker side. Check out “Second Wave Positive Psychology – Embracing the Dark Side of Life”.
- It is very unlikely that you will learn how to do this excavation work in a corporate learning or leadership program. To make lasting change we need to go into a process not skills training. The cultures of learning & development organization can equip you with the knowledge and skills to do your job or take on a leadership role. They provide assessments and insights but typically do not have the resources to do the necessary “unlearning”.
- This work is not for buttercups. Development is hard and requires us to look at ourselves and be vulnerable. When disappointments or other unconscious material surfaces, we can feel a discomfort that comes from the realization that we have been operating through mental structures that no longer serve us. With this new awareness, some people will go forward and “integrate” this learning. They will actively begin to discard these old beliefs and build new skills and neuropathways.
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