How often do we hear people on courses saying things like, ‘yes, I know’ or ‘I’ve seen this before on other workshops’, whilst doing nothing to change their behaviour as a result? It harks back to that wonderful Einstein comment about it being insanity to keep doing the same things and expecting different results. So why is that we understand the sense of something and why it might help us achieve the results we seek, but we still resist adopting the appropriate behaviour?
It doesn’t just apply at work of course, but throughout our lives. We so easily fall into the habit of behaving in certain ways and despite overwhelming evidence that a change of behaviour will help us, we still don’t make the change, or maybe we do, but then revert to type at the first challenge we face.
I was reading an article recently about how Gym memberships soar by around 40% in January, but in no time at all those good intentions die. The article reported that some gyms depend upon it and sign up far more members than they actually have room for because they know that within a matter of weeks attendance dwindles rapidly. However, many people continue to pay monthly membership fees for some time after they stop working out, so it is good news for the gyms!
We all know that keeping up a sensible level of exercise, especially for those of us in sedentary jobs, is a good idea for our general health and wellbeing. However, for many of us, knowing it is one thing and actually changing our habits is another, whether it is exercise, diet, or other potentially health threatening life patterns.
It seems that when it comes to changing our behaviour what most of us need is one of those ‘ah ha moments’ that hits us somewhere other than just intellectually. We need an emotional sucker punch, something that actually makes us recognise that this applies to us and helps us feel differently about the impact of our current behaviour, prompting us to make a much deeper decision to change things. Often this is a simple story. Rather than a complex, work-related example, it is an everyday anecdote that applies to just about all of us and gives that gut-punch feeling of ‘that’s me, I do that!’
Although The Living Leader works with many organisations of all types and size, one of the things that our trainers focus on in our programmes is finding those personal stories that are more likely to create that deeper connection and trigger self-awareness, so that individuals start to feel a more compelling sense of what they could achieve by instigating some small behavioural changes. When I first attended The Personal Leadership Programme 20 years ago, it was a simple, personal story that helped me to think from a different angle. It happened in a heartbeat. As a result, I made a decision to take adopt a different approach in social situations, nothing earth-shattering and probably barely recognisable to others, but it had a significant impact on how I connected with others and of course, they with me. As a result, my confidence grew and that impacted my whole life, especially my work. One short, true story, told straight from the heart, quite simply changed my life. The content of the story was common sense, nothing that I didn’t already know, but I had just never taken it on board and applied it to me in that way before.
Just knowing something isn’t enough, that is only the first step. We need to feel inspired at an emotional or gut level to do something different and when that moment happens, common sense can become common practise.