The Moment of Change
There's a moment in life that changes things.
It’s the moment that evolves us, that sets us on a new path, that lets us move forward. It’s the moment of realisation, of seeing something new.
It’s the moment change happens.
We tend to think of change as a process – we’re taught that it takes time, and that there are ‘phases’ to go through.
In fact, change is a moment.
It’s the moment when we see something in a way we didn’t see it before. We get a new thought, and that thought makes sense to us. It becomes our ‘new point of view’ and inevitably means different behaviours and different results.
In fact, it’s the only thing that can result in those things.
We’ve been conditioned to think that things outside us are responsible for changes to our behaviour (if he wasn’t so annoying, I wouldn’t have to snap at him) or our feelings (if the targets weren’t so high I wouldn’t feel so demotivated) when in fact it’s not possible for those things to have any control over how we behave or feel.
That’s an inside job, brought to us courtesy of the power of Thought. Thought is what creates our feelings, and when we believe what we’re thinking, our behaviour necessarily follows, 100% of the time.
How many times have you acted in a way that seemed like a good idea at the time, only to look back later and wonder "what was I thinking?". It happens to all of us, because we all change our minds when a new thought makes more sense to us than the old one.
A change of Thought (you might call it a realisation, an insight, or new thought) is what leads to changes in our feelings and behaviour, nothing else.
You see examples of this throughout the human life cycle:
- The moment when a baby realises they have some control over their hands and arms
- The moment when a child finds balance on a bike
- The moment when a person comes to peace with the death of a loved one
- The moment when someone truly decides to stop smoking or drinking
I remember, as a university student, skipping some particular classes. I’m sure I made up lots of reasons why I did that, and it doesn’t really matter now.
I very clearly remember realising, however, that if I wanted to get through this degree and get decent marks, I would need to go to all or most of the classes, and put effort into completing the assigned work.
You’d think that was obvious and common sense, and of course it is. I'm sure I'd even thought it before, but until that moment, I had other thinking that looked morecompelling and real to me.
I suspect I was trying to avoid the discomfort I was feeling when I thought about not being very good at those subjects – proper head-in-the-sand stuff! But until I really saw something new, that was the behaviour that made sense to me.
Once I had new thinking about it, it made more sense to go to the classes and do the work, which of course led to vastly improved results.
How many times have you felt like you were banging your head against a brick wall, trying to convince someone to do something that seemed so obvious and simple to you, and that you just knew would help them, but they didn’t see it - or said they saw it but kept doing the same thing anyway?
So, what does this mean for us as facilitators of change?
1. It means we can stop focusing on trying to change people’s behaviour.
You can set policies and rules, incentivise certain behaviours or penalise others, and you can explain until you’re blue in the face why a change of behaviour is a super idea.
At the end of the day, if a person doesn’t see something new that creates the change naturally in them, you won't get lasting results. When they do truly see something differently, it makes no sense for them to revert to old behaviours, because those behaviours went hand-in-hand with their old way of thinking. That's nothing to do with any strategy you were applying. Sorry.
Unfortunately (or probably fortunately), it's not up to you when that moment of realisation happens - either for yourself or for someone else. That's why the next point is where the juice is...
2. It means we can focus our efforts where they’re likely to get the most leverage.
When we understand that a change in feeling or behaviour is a natural implication of a change of mind, it makes sense to spend time on helping people understand the role of Thought in their experience of life.
People who truly understand that their experience is being created in each moment by Thought, and that they could and can have a new thought at any time, are less likely to hold onto rigid beliefs, or to hold others (people or situations) responsible for their own feelings and behaviours.
As they understand that their perspective is not the only one, and that it could change at any time, they tend to be more open to new ideas and more forward-looking rather than holding on to ‘the way we’ve always done things’.
As change or transformation professionals, or simply as human beings who want to help others through times they’re finding challenging, the biggest favour we can do ourselves and them is to understand how change really works.
Then we can stop wasting time trying to change behaviours or telling people they shouldn't feel how they feel, and go where the real value is found.
If you’d like to hear more, you can download my “Inside-Out Guide to Change”, or contact me for a conversation about how understanding how change happens can help you in your job or in your life. I’d love to hear from you!