The four fundamentals of genuine change
One of the gifts of working with so many people from various walks of life in achieving change in the mind is you begin to see the basic principles of change unfolding in front of you, as well as the pitfalls, obstacles, and challenges that exist.
What I have learned, and continue to learn, is the basic process of change is the same whether applied to organisational change in business, or individual change in sports, performance enhancement, mental strength or therapy for personal goals.
The first thing that must occur for lasting change to even be possible is raising the awareness of the need for change.
In business, this can come from a focused period of listening to employees and/or customers, or the interpretation of the clear signals of employee surveys, or from the identification of falling profits or others. These signals can manifest into a lack of motivation to go the extra mile at work, a lack of presence or avoiding certain people, and even sabotage of the business, or high staff turnover and sickness rates.
In business, like in the mind body system, there are always signals if you are looking and listening for them.
In the mind body system the signals can manifest as disturbed sleep patterns, physical sensations including pain, tension headaches, nausea and IBS type symptoms, skin problems, lack of focus and direction leading to lethargy and procrastination, dizziness and even fainting, and of course a feeling of a lack of confidence with all of the other fear signals - increased blood pressure, heart rate, breathing problems, increased illness, stress, anxiety or depression.
So, if you recognise these warning signals, you have raised your awareness of the need for something to change - and this is critical because without it, you don't know what you don't know, and can continue blindly wondering why things feel harder, and even increase the problem by doing what you are already doing with more effort. Clearly, this is the road to destruction, and the warning signals will only increase.
The second thing that must occur for lasting change to begin to take place is the development of a conviction and determination to do something different, even if you don't know what that is at that moment.
This level of determination to do something different comes from the realisation of the seriousness of the need to change, based on your recognition of the warning signals you have identified.
Even with this awareness, people can see a mountain to climb, and decide to give up before they have started, justifying it as a phase or in some other way.
However, if you are aware of the consistent signs and the seriousness of them, you will be more motivated to do something, as you know without change the signals will either stay the same, or more likely, increase in intensity leading to a potential failure and lack of profit in business, and a real threat on long term health, happiness, or performance in the individual.
The third thing that must occur for lasting change to actually begin is to take some action.
This may be employing the services of an external 'expert' to gain an objective understanding of the nature of the problem or concern.
It can be useful to do this because people within the business will usually find it more difficult to see past their own opinions and unconscious bias, as they are an intrinsic part of the organisation, and sometimes a part of the problem.
Trying to understand these problems from within may be possible, however, will usually be more difficult to identify, and even if awareness is gained, it may be more difficult for others within the business to listen to the source.
Within the individual, these actions are also usually easier to gain from someone else, as if you knew what to do, you would already be doing it. On occasion, for the person who is particularly self-aware, action can be taken as they may have just gone off track, and the realisation and awareness of the need to change can be enough to get them thinking, acting, and therefore beginning to feel different.
This could be understanding how to relax the body, how to breathe effectively, relax the mind, connect to the present moment and live in it more, and sometimes a more targeted and specific approach may be beneficial, which requires support from another.
The fourth thing that must occur for lasting change to occur is for the new actions, processes, procedures, behaviours, or ways of working to be consistently applied with effort.
This is another key part to the process of change, which is often overlooked or even not understood.
It doesn't mean that the actions cannot be changed, adapted or tweaked as the process is live, however it is easy to conclude after a short period of time, that 'it didn't work' and then either give up, or start the next 'big idea'. This can result in a feeling of constant change which is unsettling, and leads to feeling out of control.
In business, ironically, this kind of behaviour can actually create one of the main problems faced - 'resistance to change'. This can occur if employees feel that nothing is actually followed through, so they will keep their heads down until this 'big idea' blows over.
In individuals, some people may get to this stage and have achieved huge changes in the way they feel - a real overwhelming sense of a natural high - this can be seen as the elasticity of the mind as it feels different based on taking new, fresh, and exciting actions.
However, life is still out there with all of the usual stresses that it presents, and so as the elastic nature of the mind begins to move back to its usual form, people can then also begin to think 'Oh, it isn't working anymore'. So then, rather than stretching the mind again with consistent effort, they begin to do the same as what they have been doing before, and therefore reinforce those ideas.
For the person who can see more clearly, and understand this very important part of change, they continue to carry out the new actions, and keep raising their awareness until neuro-plastic change begins to occur in the soft wired brain, and then it becomes more easy to behave in the new ways.
I have seen this occur many many times over the years, and continue to see it.
Some will stop, and accept that they cannot change, and some will continue with real consistent effort despite the way it feels until they suddenly look back and realise how much they have changed. This motivates them to want to learn more, and continue to develop and learn about themselves.