Change - why is it so difficult to put to practice?

Jan 21 • Ilona Nurmela • Comments: 0
As an agent of change - promoting effective communication when negotiating deals and resolving disputes and coaching people to be the best version of themselves - I have been asking myself lately - WHY do we dare change only when the results are near-guaranteed?
For starters, I myself was on the fence for about 2 years before I jumped off it and started my own business. I had help, a great mentor, who enabled me to see that I was afraid of not succeeding. Success is a matter of definition - whether it’s billable hours translating into profit participation or regular cash flow or a regular client base or being known. I, personally, measure success by the lives I have inspired to change. Getting paid for doing something I love is a bonus.

When working with people, I have discovered the following:

- about 60% of people are unhappy with what they do, how they lead their life, how they approach problems or disputes and only half of them (optimistically) are willing to do something about it, to try a new thing, to take a step towards the unknown;

- “willing to do something about it” does not mean “not afraid”, “willing” means “afraid and conquering whatever fears they have” - so, I am happy to report that I have the privilege of working with the truly brave;

- curious people - even those that don’t think they want to change anything - are more willing to try coaching;

- cautious people who like to be right or don’t like to be made fools of in the media are more likely to stick to their previous (emotional) decisions - no matter how beneficial an alternative solution, e.g. mediation might seem;

- change usually takes time - on one hand because doing things differently after you decide so needs to become a habit (it takes about 21 days) and on the other hand because you need to learn to THINK differently. Thinking differently comes in 2 parts - first forgetting your old thought patterns and forging new ones. Like 2 paths in a forest - stop using one and make a brand new other, but in parallel, so double the effort and 21 days is usually not enough. That is why coaching clients that want major changes usually see results in 3-6 months.

- change takes only a few hours when you SEE yourself doing something verbal-physical that you don’t like in a video - videos are a great tool in negotiation trainings, helping clients self-correct their nervous or speaking habits on the spot;

- when you REPEATEDLY get hints & tips on HOW to think - a new structure or approach - and CHOOSE to try it when your counsellor or coach or negotiator is not there to hold your hand - even if you have to have an inner dialogue of “what would Ilona say/suggest/ask me in this situation” you discover that you have ALREADY changed the way you think, you dare to be different, do more and dream bigger;

- and last but not least and a shocker at that - those that are willing to pay for my services - coaching, negotiation, mediation - are those that are more invested in actually implementing the changes they desire in their life. True, we get the best things in life for free - love, respect, gratitude. But to get invested into the outcome, you need to put your money where your mouth is - whether it is for training or a networking event or a professional service that helps you achieve what you want.

Apparently, people prefer to pay good value for results, not a product or a service. I totally understand - it’s like with software - you can custom design it but if it doesn’t do what you need it to do, guess what, you won’t be using it for long.

However, what this means is that even if a person wants to change or wants something to change in their team/life/job, most are willing to try only if getting a result is near-certain. Meaning - someone else has tried and succeeded (so why cannot I?) or there is a recommendation (which is essentially the same thing) or if you have a money-back guarantee.

Perhaps this is because 84% of the population are usually followers - they will try something after the 2,5% innovators and 13,5% early adopters have already tried it first (see Simon Sinek’s TED talk).

I only know a few innovators and DaVinci personalities who wouldn’t think twice of trying a new thing or are flexible enough to do/use something in a new way (that is how innovations happen, btw). They just lack the self-imposed limitation of “careful, let’s test the waters for sharks first”. It’s not like they are not afraid. They try new things because they can see the many parallel outcomes and risks of how this could play out and choose to accept them and try anyway, thinking “what if”. Innovators and early adopters could also try a new product just because it’s cool and interesting (.e.g Apple when it started).

So, how can we all be a bit more flexible? How can we all get more certainty that results WILL actually materialise?

We can all start by acting out some of the “what ifs” - and when something positive happens, then there is your result and reinforcement.

I suggest we all start small. I’m not coaxing anyone to quit their job and start their own business tomorrow.

Perhaps it’s a dream…that you don’t really want? Oh, you do? Then still, start small, write down 3 things: 1. WHY you want it; 2. WHO ELSE would benefit besides you; and 3. what could be the small step you can do today-tomorrow-next week to get you closer to your dream.

If you simply want a new job, start by writing down what job you want, in what industry, with what pay, with which companies and one small step you yourself can do within a week to get you started moving in that new direction.

If you want your team to produce better results and are not getting through to them, write down 2 things: 1. A clear vision of results you want your team to achieve and most importantly WHY; plus 2. How YOU, your leadership or team building skills may be sabotaging your own efforts - what is it that you don’t know?

Or if you’re just fed up with things in general, start small by choosing to walk or drive home a different route in the evening. Or agree a lunch with someone whose company and conversation you really enjoy.

Babysteps…babysteps…babysteps…and time will come for you to dream so big that it scares you silly and still encourages you to go after that dream.

I, personally get inspired for change by the conversations I have. I dream of people/businesses/governments being able to cooperate at least 80% better than they are doing now. Sometimes thinking about all the things that need to happen to get there scares me. What keeps me going is the “what if”. Imagine, if you can communicate on various levels so that there are no disputes, then there is true potential to really solve global problems. Gandhi started a non-violent communication movement and look what changes he brought. Accidentally, we share a birth date, but more importantly, we share the thought that necessary changes in society start on an individual level.

If you want some inspiration for changing SOMETHING important in your life, let’s figure it out together -

Add a comment

Email again: