Lessons in Change #1: Start with a reason that we believe in

By Mark Vincent

Share

Lessons in Change 2020 - Covid-19

We hear a lot from management gurus, life coaches and consultants about the power of why, in other words starting with a clear purpose to give meaning to what we do. This is never more true than when it comes to changing something. Change normally brings with it uncertainty, some risk and some discomfort so the reason for putting ourselves through that must be clear. We must truly believe in the outcome, in terms of its value to us personally. For example, consider the change involved when we have children. In my case I started later in life, so the impact on my life was huge. At times it has been very challenging but I wouldn’t change a thing, because those children are well worth the effort and bring so much more.

There is an immediacy too. The benefit must be real enough and soon enough. One of the main reasons that diets fail is because the sacrifices have to be made now but the rewards can be painfully slow and distant, so it’s easy to cave in to the immediate gratification at the expense of the longer term goals. Climate change has similarly struggled with this one because the benefits (avoiding global disaster) seem so far in the future than the immediate needs of feeding the family and keeping up with the things that are right in front of us. Change initiatives at work are often competing with quarter end deadlines, urgent emails, the next presentation to the boss among many other things.

The pandemic response during early part of 2020 demonstrated that when we realise that everything else has to take second place we can do amazing things and we can do them very quickly indeed. The key here is that we believed in the reason, fundamentally saving lives, potentially including those close to us. Another critical component was the urgency. It started thousands of miles away so our initial response was, predictably, a level of concern but little in the way of action. Once we felt it was on our doorstep and we could see the curve rising, the sense of urgency kicked in and we acted.

So for change to be effective, it needs to have the fuel to start with: a reason that we truly believe is worth the effort and sufficient urgency to galvanise action.

Now that we’ve passed the peak the crowds are starting to form again and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to enforce the restrictions. We’re starting to rebel, slowly but surely. The reasons for sticking with the restrictions are coming into question when compared to the impact on our lives. So this proves that it’s not enough to start with a compelling and urgent reason; it must continue to be compelling and urgent throughout the duration of the change, otherwise the energy will begin to wane and that can happen very quickly.

In the next lesson we’ll consider the factors that will quickly slow us down even when we’re feeling energised and motivated.

Get in touch

If you’re starting a change, or already on the journey and need some support, we can help.

Whether it’s coaching or mentoring your leadership team, diagnosing low engagement or leading a change on your behalf, we have a range of options to suit different situations and budgets. Contact us by clicking the button to find out more.

Related content

Charles Duhigg – The Power of Habit – Book and TED Talk

Apparently 85% of what we do is driven by habit. Think about driving a car or doing mundane chores at home, often we’re lost in thought and only barely conscious of what we’re doing. Habits can work for us or against us. In this excellent book and TED talk Charles Duhigg shows us how we can hack our less useful habits to create new, better ones. And the real eye opener for me was the realisation that an organisation can have group habits too and they can equally be productive or destructive.

Energise

We all need a reason to change, something that motivates us right now. Creating a strong desire to change either as an individual or a group is critical.

Privacy Policy

Data protection and privacy is very important to us.  This page sets out what we are doing to ensure that your data is treated with the respect that we would want our data treated.

Join the conversation

We seek out and share the latest research and best practice on how to increase engagement, improve change outcomes and become more agile and resilient. We love to learn and we love to share what…

Are you on track with your change goals?

How are your goals for this year shaping up? It’s well documented that organisational change is challenging, with only 30% achieving their stated goals. What’s less well known is that the reason for this is not because people generally resist change…

Join the conversation