“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly site harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” – C.S. Lewis
Change ultimately comes from two places: we are either moving away from something or moving towards something. It is really that simple. If we are happy or content where we are, then we will not alter our condition. Change occurs by pain or pleasure.
Pain Or Pleasure: Does It Make A Difference?
In my experience, sustainable, lasting change comes from moving towards the positive. It comes from wanting to fly, not from trying to avoid “going bad.” Research supports this. The Economic and Social Research Council, for instance, analyzed 129 studies on behavior change strategies. The least successful were those that were based on fear, guilt, or regret. So if you smoke, being afraid to die is not enough to quit. You have to decide that you want to live longer with more energy, healthier skin, hair and teeth, for instance.
Sometimes, it’s a matter of spin. Even if you are moving away from something, looking at it through a positive lens can help you become more motivated. To use our smoking example, if you start exhibiting early signs of heart damage, that might frighten you into quitting. Initially. But how do you sustain that change? By focusing on the improvement in your health, by exercising and doing activities you enjoy without getting winded, by keeping the life you want in your mind rather than looking over your shoulder at the one you want to leave behind.
Learning & Change
A vital component of motivating change is learning. You have to understand the difference between where you are (current reality) and where you could be (your future vision). Closing the gap is necessary to create sustainable change.
Thus, learning and change are different sides of the same coin. You cannot have one without the other. They are so tightly bound together that they could be the same word.
Motivating Employees To Make Real Change
As a leader, think about how you can apply this insight and motivate your team. How can you inspire your people to be self-motivated to achieve long-term change? Teach them. (Note: There is actually a small “trap” in those last sentences! You cannot positively motivate anyone. Negatively, yes – punishment can work… short term! People need inspiration, not motivation. It is up to them to provide their own personal motivation, i.e. they have to do it for their reasons, not yours!)
Someone joins a Vistage group, for instance, because they are looking to change and improve their business results. They enter into this education-based environment to learn and apply new strategies, to produce different results. I’ve seen support, feedback and sharing of information in Vistage Peer Groups facilitate phenomenal, true change.
Albert Einstein once said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” We need to learn and change, in order to improve. People who are successful with change are those who have a continual thirst for learning, and a willingness to apply that learning to their life and work, derived from an understanding of living, working, and being better.