Meaningful behavioral change is hard to do. If it were easy, everyone would do it!
As an executive coach, I’ve been helping successful people achieve positive lasting change in behavior for more than thirty-five years. Most of my clients embrace the opportunity to change, and most are aware of the fact that behavioral change will help them become more effective leaders, partners, and even family members. A few are not.
My process of helping clients is straightforward and consistent. I interview and listen to my clients’ key stakeholders. These stakeholders could be their colleagues, direct reports, or board members. I accumulate a lot of confidential feedback. Then I go over the summary of this feedback with my clients. My clients take ultimate responsibility for the behavioral changes that they want to make. My job is then very simple. I help my clients achieve positive, lasting change in the behavior that they choose as judged by key stakeholders that they choose. If my clients succeed in achieving this positive change — as judged by their stakeholders — I get paid. If the key stakeholders do not see positive change, I don’t get paid.
Our odds of success improve because I’m with the client every step of the way, telling him or her how to stay on track and not regress to a former self. But that doesn’t diminish the importance of one extremely significant fact:
Meaningful behavioral change is hard to do.
It’s hard to initiate behavioral change, even harder to stay the course, hardest of all to make the change stick.
If you think I’m overstating its difficulty answer these questions:
What do you want to change in your life? It could be something major, such as your weight (a big one), your job (big too), or your career (even bigger). It could be something minor, such as changing your hairstyle or checking in with your mother more often or changing the wall color in your living room.
How long has this been going on? For how many months or years have you risen in the morning and told yourself some variation on the phrase, “This is the day I make a change”?
How’s that working out? In other words, can you point to a specific moment when you decided to change something in your life and you acted on the impulse and it worked out to your satisfaction?