Why Personal or Organizational Change Is Often So Hard

Published on December 7, 2012 by

It's interesting to me that both "companies" and individuals talk about wanting things to change in some way, then turn around and resist that change--without even knowing it.

For things to change for the better (for a company or for you) there are four keys:

  • We have to take full responsibility for the change we want
  • We have to be congruent about what we want
  • We have to do something different
  • We have to be patient until we find what works--and then be patient as we make mistakes, refine what we are doing and then go at it again

You would think all this is simple--and it is--it's just not always easy. Take the matter of accepting full responsibility.

What happens in the corporate arena? Leaders blame their people and employees blame leadership. All the while, there is little conscious awareness of blame going on--most think they are taking responsibility; few ever admit to blaming others.

What happens in our personal lives? We blame the economy or our company for not having the career success we want. We say we want to get fit and healthy and then say we don't know how, don't have the time to exercise or that we have tried and tried without success--which translates into "It's not my fault" and the word "fault" is full of blame and judgment.

And therein lies a big problem. We often don't know how to take responsibility without blaming self and feeling awful about it.

It's much easier for leaders or individuals in their personal life to simply say the problem is "Out there," not "In here."

What's the solution? In part, it's realizing that taking responsibility isn't about blame or accusation. It's about saying "It's my job to make this better" and saying that without judgment, accusation or blame.  Sounds simple, but doing that is hard for many of us.

Successful leaders have learned to accept responsibility instead of saying everything would be great if others would just do their job right. Real leaders don't blame their team for not following them--they ask themselves how they can learn to have more influence over their team.

When it comes to our personal life, emotional intelligence allows us to  recognize that no one is coming to our rescue--our job is to learn how to be happier now and to figure out a way to get more of what we want, whether it be for our career, relationships, health or finances.

All that takes inner strength, which is another way of saying it takes more self-love and self-acceptance. Judging, criticizing and blaming self just creates more internal resistance and an atmosphere of fear.

Positive change on the organizational or personal level begins with knowing what you want, taking responsibility for it bringing it about, doing something different, and being patient along the way.

Doing all that is both simple and hard. Simple to know what to do; sometimes hard to actually do. We get defensive, feel we've done everything we can do and then look for reasons outside of self to explain why things are the way they are.

But deep down, we know that the reason things are the way they are boil down to what is within us, not what is on the outside of us. That's actually good news--since the only place we have any control is within.

 

4 Comments

  1. JoAnn Corley

    Hi Alan,
    I really like this post. It's simple and honest. And that's a great place to start when you want to make changes - simple and honest. For those in leadership in the corporate arena that might be tough to do inside their organization and so things go unaddressed. That's why more and more professionals are seeking external help/support via coaching. it's safe and confidential - essential to getting honest - the essential place to start.

    • Alan Allard

      JoAnn,

      Thanks for your input. I agree with you that more companies are getting smart and using consultants and coaches--to have new eyes to see what's really going on and to provide their expertise on change management in a way that is both safe and confidential.

      By the way, for anyone reading this, JoAnn is one of the smartest and most capable consultants-coach-trainer-speaker out there.

  2. Eric Tomlinson

    Hi Alan:

    I have found it amazing that oftentimes the blaming and fault-finding thoughts and actions that you referred to (conscious and unconscious ones) which create enormous blockages toward growth and success (personally, interpersonally, and collectively) are predominately enacted in order for self-protection purposes (unless one is a sociopath).

    Consequently, an incredible amount of one's time, thoughts, energy, and resources are spent trying to protect one's self from one's own insecurities and fears and ultimately from an unintegrated self. It then becomes quite ironic that one then finds it so difficult to apply even a portion of that same amount of time, thought, energy and personal resources toward moving through and growing past those same controlling and paralyzing insecurities and fears. It is just too painful for most individuals to push through.

    I have come to the conclusion that there is only one way for one to become a genuine truth seeker who will actually seek out the information, the understanding, the help and guidance, etc., that one needs in order to make the positive changes that you refer to and also assist others in achieving...that is, one has to genuinely want it more than anything else, and even when it is painful and challenges long held belief systems within... ultimately because of the understanding that the need to continually grow and become more integrated isn't just a great thing to add to our being, it is the core of our individual humanity and without it we will always feel incomplete and restless and insecure and fearful. Thank you for being a truth-seeker.

    • Alan Allard

      Eric,

      First, let me congratulate you on earning your Ph.D. in psychology recently! Thanks for stopping by and for your comments. I agree with you that we have to want to change we say we want more than we want anything that will get in the way of it. Many times we think we do, but we don't.

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