“There are plenty of people out there today, that are over consuming and under-integrating”
This quote really resonated with me because of the work I do around change. So many times I’ve been involved in big change initiatives, where there’s another goal to chase or new vision to implement, or underlying issue to address within the business. So, the L&D team/HR/Operations throw money at it, bringing in outside coaches or organisations to implement all singing, all dancing learning interventions. But what they don’t realise is that this is only the very beginning.
The change won’t happen simply because the organisation has signed up to a new management model or training company. If real change is to happen, there must be a solid commitment to the work that is being proposed. Moreover, once the individual or team leaves that coaching session, they must go away and actually do something with it.
And this goes for us, as individuals too. The pounds won’t just miraculously fall off because we’ve joined an expensive gym. If we want to get fit, we must commit to the real work of training. If we want to eat clean, of course we can buy Jamie’s ‘Lean in 15’ or follow ‘Deliciously Ella’ on Instagram, but we must commit to buying the ingredients and making the food, instead of reaching for the cheese on toast.
Doing the work means taking personal responsibility. It means owning your own progress. It means being accountable to yourself and having the conversations that count, so that you can create the changes you want. My work is about helping people to get more honest with themselves and each other so that they can remove the barriers preventing their progress.
So what is it that’s actually stopping us from doing the work?
Staying in our comfort zone. We all love it here. We’re in complete control, we know exactly where we are and what’s going on at all times. So we get stuck. We come out of conscious awareness and slip into autopilot. From here it’s really easy to convince ourselves that we’re doing the work – we’ve joined the gym/been on another course/bought the cookbook – but there’s no REAL work happening here. Learning can only take place if we get out of our comfort zone.
Most things that we learn and grow from aren’t particularly enjoyable at the time, but we grow from the unease and discomfort. Whenever my kids are going through a tricky time, I like to tell them that “the learning is always in the struggle.” Not only because it drives them crazy, but because it’s completely true.
Many years ago I got a bad case of ‘one more course-itis’. I didn’t take a traditional route through education. I literally left school on Friday and started work on Monday. I’ve always continued to educate myself whilst I’ve worked, but because I didn’t take the traditional route through university, I had a big hang-up that I wasn’t intellectual enough or qualified enough. So I went on more and more courses. Whilst I did learn some valuable stuff, I wasn’t doing the real work. The real work was gaining some self-awareness around why I was having these limiting beliefs. Rather than going on another course, I needed to unpick my internal world, challenge those beliefs and redefine my story around my worth and what I had to offer.
Sometimes we’re all fur coat and no knickers. On the outside it looks as though we’re doing the work and it’s easy to convince ourselves that we are, just so we can stay in our cosy comfort zone. But the real work happens when we look within. State your intention! Set your goal! And for the love of Deliciously Ella’s chocolate brownies, be honest with yourself! Make yourself accountable. Have the conversations that matter with yourself, that challenge you to do what really needs to be done.
But first we must begin
The best learning environment we can create is the one where WE do the real work. And the real work is the inside job. But we often choose external validation as our markers of success. Going on the next course. Getting the next certificate. Hiring the next personal trainer that has worked wonders with this or that Z-list celebrity. We trick ourselves into believing that if we do what they do or say, this will make us feel better. What it can do is completely overwhelm us and stop us from actually beginning in the first place.
Accept and make friends with resistance
Be mindful that there will be more resistance when we come out of our comfort zone and it starts getting difficult. But make friends with it! Resistance is where the real opportunity for growth exists, so you need to get comfortable with it. Get to the truth behind what it is that’s really stopping you from moving forward. What is really stopping you from making healthy choices about what you eat? What is really stopping you from managing yourself as a leader? What is really stopping you from learning a new skill that will propel you towards your goals?
Get curious about resistance and you’ll find the place from which to grow.
So do the work and make those changes. Here’s how.
1. Check you have the right outcome in mind. Do you REALLY want this change?
2. Get into the right mindset. Make sure you’re focusing on the internal job, not the external validation.
3. As resistance comes up, reflect and evaluate the changes that need to be made.
4. Be honest with yourself about where the change really needs to happen. Most of the time, the change needs to come from the inside to create the results you want on the outside.
If you need extra accountability it’s a good idea to get extra support from a coach, especially if you are trying to change patterns of behaviour that no longer serve you. Accountability and guidance can make a massive difference to your progress.
Get in touch with me by emailling firstname.lastname@example.org to book a 30-minute call to see if I can help.