In Change, Leaders

“We cannot become what we need to be without changing who we are.” – Max DePree

The vast majority of the conversation in this space revolves around change. Changing environments, changing customers, changing markets, changing technology – there’s almost literally no end to the list of things that are changing around us and that we need to try and change in our organizations. But what about changing ourselves?

It’s pretty hard to lead any kind of change initiative in a business or preach about the importance of change to your people if you’re incapable of making the changes you need or want to make in your own career or your own life. If you tell people you’re going to change X, and a few weeks or months go by and everyone can see you haven’t done it, your credibility takes a hit. Not only that, but your confidence does too, which sets you up to fail next time.

There are a lot of factors that go into successfully changing ourselves, but one that stands out in my experience is the lack of a plan. We have a vision of what we want to do, we recognize that it’s a big deal, we think we can do it, but we haven’t clearly laid out exactly what it is we’re going to do. And after some time goes by we realize we haven’t accomplished anything.

Think about something that needs to change in your personal or professional life. Picture exactly what it will look like when you succeed at making that change. Now ask yourself: What are the 5 (or 10, or whatever) specific things I need to do to make that happen? Write them down. Look at your list and decide when each of those things needs to take place. Next week? Ten days from now? Next month? Write the due date next to each item.

That maybe wasn’t so hard, but so far you haven’t actually done anything. Here’s the part where you have to be brave. Share that list with somebody. Preferably a couple somebodies, if possible. Tell them exactly what you’re trying to accomplish and why each action item matters. Then ask them to hold you accountable. Set up some regular times for you to report back. Some people think that needing help means they’re weak. False. Asking for help proves you’re strong.

Don’t just wish for change in your life or in your role as a leader. Be specific about what you want, be specific about what you’re going to do, and get some help from someone who’s willing to hold you accountable. Your business isn’t the only thing that needs to change in this world. You do to. Start now.

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