God give me the courage to change the things I can change,
The serenity to accept those things I can’t change,
And the wisdom to know the difference
THE NATURE OF CHANGE
When we are faced with the realities of life we recognize that, ultimately –
- we cannot change other people,
- we cannot change the nature of our world,
- we cannot change the passage of time
What we CAN change is primarily our own attitudes, behaviors, and approaches to things. In essence our responsibility starts and ends with ourselves. Responsibility is an old concept but gets a refreshing revisit from H. Stephen Glenn when he breaks it apart into response-ability – our fundamental ability to respond effectively to the external stimulus and conditions that we encounter in our lives. This works – when you are functioning responsibly in the more conventional sense of the word, we are also functioning response-ably in the H. Stephen Glenn sense of the word. The opposite is also true. This plays back directly into the old saying that we are not defined by what happens to us but by how we respond to what happens to us.
What is it that prompts change? Essentially we reach a tipping point. In any life circumstance there is an inevitable sequence of events, or life cycle, from beginning to end. If that sequence can be anticipated in terms of it’s nature and scope, as well as its impact, the opportunity exists to make a preemptive assessment of one’s best interest in relation to the anticipated outcome. It is reasonable to note here that people tend to run away from things that are bad for them much more, and faster, than they run toward things that are good for them. That having been said, most of the motivation for change can be described as inspiration, no matter whether the catalyst for that inspiration is good or bad.
There are two faces of change – individual change and group change. Inevitably, group change is accomplished through the concerted efforts of a number of individuals working to effect the change in in concert with each other. Based on what we noted previously, this would mean that one or more individuals were inspired to accomplish the change, and then were able to convey this sense of inspiration to the others, until there was a majority in favor or a consensus to pursue the change.
PRECONDITIONS FOR CHANGE
There are preconditions that must be met for any successful change.
- Recognition that there is a problem – suboptimal conditions, reduction in benevolent outcomes, or simply unhappiness, negative stress, and anxiety as prevalent mental conditions.
- Determination that there is a better and achievable alternative state of affairs.
- Determination that the process of change will not exceed the functional parameters for stable continuation of life. This can be a trade-off – if the current condition will ultimately result in untimely or unreasonable death, then the risk associated with a path of change that includes the possibility of death may not be as significant.
- Necessary resources to effect the change are available.
- Personal conviction and sense of direction necessary to work through the inevitable difficulties and complete the change.
THE PROCESS OF CHANGE
There is a sequential nature to change. Given that the preconditions have been met, that sequence starts with changing the way you think about the issue. Most conditions that are prevalent are because the people sustaining them have adopted a uniform and consistent pattern of thought in regard to those conditions. This may be a matter of benign tolerance or a matter of abject hopelessness, among other states, but whatever the state there is a sustaining nature to the mental condition of the people enduring the situation. The first requirement of change, then, is to change the way you think about the condition. Get outside the problem, breakdown the stereotypes, and create a new frame of reference. If you change the way you think, you change your beliefs.
Changing your beliefs is the next step in the process of change. If you change the way you think about something then almost as a matter of course you change the nature of what is possible and impossible. As you expand your possibility prospects, you inherently change what you believe.
Beliefs affect Expectations, Expectations affect Attitude, Attitude affects Behavior, and Behavior affects Performance. You get what you envision, what you focus on… or – What you “see” is what you get.