Real change, however, is more challenging than that. Whether it’s of a personal nature or requires transforming a culture, change requires dedication, perseverance and, most of all, courage.
There are many definitions of change, almost all of them having to do with making something different, sometimes radically. Woodrow Wilson said, “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.” Psychologists tell us change is scary to most people because, by definition, it means loss. We leave something behind when we go on to something new, and if what we’ve left behind was important to us, we grieve. Although professionalism requires people to be logical and accept—at least outwardly—the rationale of change, their emotions underneath may be negative and resistant. This can lead to foot dragging, passive-aggressiveness, or even sabotage.
At The Presentation Pros™ we know how difficult it is to let go of the familiar, to step out of your comfort zone and into the unknown. Here are steps you can take that will result in more meaningful—and permanent—change in your life.
- Make a Plan. Analyze your strengths and weaknesses. Where do you want to make a change? Do you want to build on your strengths or eliminate a habit that’s getting in your way? Set a goal and write it down. Remember the first rule of setting an objective: while it can be a stretch, it must be doable. So, instead of, I want to become a world famous motivational speaker, your goal should more realistically be something like: I will deliver a confident, dynamic presentation to the board of directors in June. Or: I want to build a better relationship with the people who report to me. Now, list two or three steps you can take to begin the process. A plan is only valuable if it leads to action.
- Develop your skills. It’s one thing to want to change; it’s another to actually know how to change. Doing something differently requires having the skill to move around in uncharted territory. Sign up for a workshop, hire a coach, get honest feedback from an expert you trust, one who will provide insight and a fresh perspective. Keep trying new things. If something doesn’t work for you, focus on the results you want, keep an open mind and don’t give up.
- Practice. Dedicate yourself to life-long learning and repetition. Changing old habits and mastering new skills require time and patience. The better you get, the more enjoyable the practice, and before you know it, a new habit will have formed. Celebrate each new accomplishment and reward yourself. Tiger Woods, at the top of his game and profession, still uses coaches for feedback to maintain and improve his amazing skills. Take a cue from the best of the best and make practice and learning a way of life.
When you make a change, you let go of the familiar and comfortable while you grab hold of something new. The first step is to reach out. So, take the initiative, check your passion and go for it—as you rediscover and redefine yourself.
“Change. It has the power to uplift, to heal, to stimulate surprise, open new doors, bring fresh experience and create excitement in life. Certainly it is worth the risk.”
- Leo Buscaglia
Debbie Darling, ©2013 The Presentation Pros