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For Things To Change You Must Change – For Things To Get Better You Must Get Better
If you want to inspire change in others, you have to make their future rewards stronger than their current fears. First of all, we know that one must have the desire before change can take place. Therefore, dangling bait in front of somebody’s nose is useless if it’s not something they find desirable. What do they want, and do they want it enough? The desire has to be there. Second, their desire must be coupled with enthusiasm. They can’t say to themselves,
“That would be nice.” They really have to feel like, “All right, let’s do this!” Not like,
“Yeah, I want that, but….” For lasting change to manifest in them, there is no room for half-heartedness or apathetic feelings on the part of your prospects. They must embrace change as their vehicle and step on the gas!
Third, your prospects must be open to suggestions, input and new ideas. Nothing is going to change if they keep doing the same things they’ve been doing all along, right? So, they’ve got to be open to new possibilities, new ways of thinking and new ways of doing things. People can’t act differently if they don’t think differently, and they can’t think differently if they aren’t open to new information.
Fourth, your prospects must have a positive outlook on change as a growing process that will not take place overnight. Nothing sucks the energy out of someone faster than the realization of unrealistic goals or false hopes. At the very first encounter of struggle, such individuals shrink away in defeat. The challenges seem too daunting, or they slide into a negative, complacent attitude, thinking, “See, I knew it wouldn’t work….” Then they’re just back to where they started, or worse.
Since it is one of the leading obstacles to positive, lasting change, let’s first talk about fear. First of all, what is this debilitating but alarmingly common emotion? It is anxiety or tension that is caused by danger, apprehension, harm, pain or destruction. Fear stems from sources that can be real or imagined. The danger of unchecked fear is that it becomes a vicious cycle: You shy away from things because you’re afraid of them, which in turn deprives you of crucial experience, which in turn feeds your lack of knowledge, which is one of the very things that makes you afraid in the first place. Whatever the root of the fear is, there is one thing that is always constant: Fear is an emotion, and like any emotion, it can be redirected. Consider the fact that psychiatrists find only two fears in a newborn baby: fear of falling and fear of loud noises. In other words, all other fears are learned, which means they can also be unlearned. Sounds too easy, doesn’t it? Let’s take a look at the four main steps in overcoming fear.
1. Develop a sound knowledge and understanding of what is triggering your fears. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Knowledge is the antidote to fear.” This statement is so true. We always hear the saying “the fear of the unknown.” I’m sure you can think of several examples, both historically and in modern times, of people who responded irrationally to situations and to people they didn’t understand. Has this type of response ever proven to be a good thing? I can’t personally think of a time when it has. Knowledge is never going to hurt you. What you don’t know, however, will hurt you. In this particular case, knowledge is only going to better equip you to grab your fears by the horns. So, how does one acquire this knowledge? If you don’t already know, deep down, what you fear, you’ve got to pinpoint exactly what you’re afraid of. Isolate the fear-inducing thing, person or situation–whatever it is–in writing. Write it down!
2. Ask yourself: What is the worst thing that could happen? Take a serious look at your fear in the face. Is the worst-case scenario a life-and-death situation? Could it even really be considered devastating? And even if it could, will it be more devastating to live an unfulfilled life than to take the chance? You gain strength, courage and confidence with every experience in which you confront your fears, no matter how painful. In retrospect, you are always able to say to yourself, “I lived through this. I made it. I can handle whatever else may come along.” Eleanor Roosevelt once very wisely said, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
3. Allow yourself to feel capable of overcoming your fears. Try to visualize your success, to feel what success would feel like. Success has to be real in your mind before you can make it real in true life. We always hear the saying that “seeing is believing.” Well, actually, in a case like this, believing first will mean seeing down the road. You can’t achieve what your mind doesn’t believe. Martin Luther King said it best: “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.” When you can see positive transformation, when it becomes a part of you, it will happen. Every time you feel capable and you mentally see yourself making the changes you want to make, a little chunk of internal doubt will erode away.
4. Take decisive action right away. Once you’ve pinpointed exactly what your fear is, you’ve mentally confronted the worst-case scenario and you’ve let yourself work through the emotions of what your success is going to feel like, then you must take immediate and decisive action to diminish and ultimately overcome your fear. Hesitation only allows fear to fester and enlarge. Do something about it, before that fear continues to grow! Taking action will empower you. Doing nothing will just perpetuate your feelings of helplessness.
Now let’s talk about the second most common obstacle to positive, lasting change: lack of motivation. We all have those days when we just don’t feel like doing what we need to do. We intend to, but then it still doesn’t happen. Well, not only do we have “those days,” but we could probably point to such a scenario every single day! Procrastination is just part of the human condition–“Oh, I’ll get to it…later….” How do we muster the motivation to get things done and to stay on track, even during those inevitable times when we just don’t feel like it?
Basically, there are only two things that motivate us in life: inspiration and desperation.
We either move toward that which inspires us, or we move away from something that fills us with despair or discomfort. The majority of the world’s population uses desperation as a motivator. Desperation is like a cattle prod forcing you to move forward and take action. I can motivate anyone in the world with desperation. The problem is that motivation that is spurred by desperation doesn’t last. Think of that person you know who is always lying on the couch. If you douse the couch with gasoline and light a match, you’ll see instant motivation. But once the fire is out, you will see her/him turn back into a lazy person.
If you want motivation to last, you have to rely on inspiration. The positive results that spring from using inspiration as a motivator are obvious. Inspired people tend to be proactive, passionate and driven. They are happier and enjoy greater life fulfillment than those who are desperation-driven. If you just check the help-wanted section of your newspaper, these types of inspired people are always in demand. To be most effective, inspiration needs to be internalized. Motivation becomes long-term when the intended goal taps into one’s inner drive and emotion. The key to finding success lies in being emotionally motivated with a purpose.
The third obstacle to positive, lasting change is lack of knowledge. Sometimes, people are immobilized from moving ahead simply because they don’t know what to do or where to begin. To bring change about in your life, you need the necessary knowledge to make that change successful. Consider what you can read, whom you can talk to, what seminar or workshop you can attend. Who could be your coach? Discover all the resources that are available to you. Remember, there is no challenge so unique that humanity has never seen or heard of it before. There are always going to be others who have been through what you’re experiencing and who will know exactly what you’re up against. It is much better to get as much information as you can from those individuals who have gone before you than to try to figure everything out on your own.
Think of acquiring knowledge in terms of your own personal development program. Did you know that there is a direct relationship between your personal development program and your income? In the sales industry, we’ve found the more CDs listened to, the more books read and the more seminars attended, the higher the salesperson’s income. Brian Tracy tells people that their income will double every year if they just read thirty minutes a day. Lastly, consider that fact that most homes worth over a quarter of a million dollars have a library. I’m not saying that a huge income is your major goal–maybe it is, maybe it isn’t–but the point is, increased knowledge impacts your output, in whatever form it takes on.
The bottom line is, the more you learn, the more you earn. Anything you could possibly ever wonder about has most likely already been written about, so invest in the books, the
CDs, the seminars and the professional advice that are going to give you the knowledge you need to get ahead. As your knowledge increases, you will experience a parallel increase in motivation and desire. Researchers at Harvard University found that those who are learning and growing every day are more optimistic about life. They are more enthusiastic about where they’re going and what they’re going to accomplish.
Conversely, those who aren’t learning and growing every day become negative, pessimistic and doubtful about themselves and their future.
The last major obstacle to positive, lasting change is lack of vision. As we discussed earlier, being able to visualize your success first is crucial to it actually playing out in real life. If your mind can’t conceive it, you sure won’t achieve it! Since belief dictates behavior, you’ve got to believe first. And it is much easier to believe in something if you can visualize it. So, take the time to vividly imagine and play out in your mind exactly what your successes are. Let your mind create all the details–it’s got to be as real and authentic in your mind as possible. Taste it, touch it, feel it, eat it, drink it, sleep it, breathe it. Some may find such visualization a frivolous expenditure of time, but I cannot stress its importance strongly enough: This activity is VERY worthwhile! When I find people who have not tapped into this success skill, I know they are broke. Again, beliefs and attitudes shape your future!
Vision is a powerful tool in helping you to see the big picture. Once you begin to have a grasp on where today fits into the future, suddenly everything you do today matters.
Vision gives us energy, passion and a reason for living, growing and working hard.
Knowing exactly where you want to go is the surest way to end aimless “going through the motions.” Stephen Covey said, “To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.”
When we have the necessary desire and plan to change, it’s time to be brutally honest about the real reasons behind the behaviors and situations we don’t like. For example, you may say you’re overweight because your depression makes you overeat. But why are you really depressed? Smoking, family tensions–the list of bad-habit inducers goes on and on. You’ve got to be ready to admit that your habits were formed for a reason. If you can uncover that reason, you know what kind of battle you’re up against. And the more you know about what you’re dealing with, the more empowered you become to change the results. This transformation mentality also involves changing your thinking. You cannot defend or justify old habits. The more you can change your point of reference, the more you will expedite change. Sometimes, this change incentive is just a new outlook; other times, it means changing your environment or even your friends.
Before you attempt to overcome a bad habit, be sure you have a well thought-out plan in place, one that you are committed to being accountable to. For example, don’t try to just drop a bad habit cold turkey. Instead, replace it with something else that is both positive and productive, something that will be rewarding to you. Stop focusing on the past and how you used to do or enjoy something. Instead, focus on the future. It will feel awkward at first, just like when you try to throw a ball with your non-dominant hand. It will take some time to get used to, but you will eventually become accustomed to it. If you can keep yourself constantly engaged in things that you find rewarding and invigorating, you will no longer have the need to avoid your problems.
Understand that you can only change certain things in your life. Some things you should not change or you simply cannot change. If an acorn wants to grow up to be a redwood, it’s not going to happen because it’s simply not what nature intended. If you are the size of an offensive tackle in football, you probably will never be a professional jockey. You will find what is possible if you really put your mind to it and follow your heart. Your heart will tell you what you can or cannot do and will guide you toward the path you should take. Take time out to be alone with your thoughts. Turn off the TV or radio in your car. It is OK to be alone. It’s perfectly acceptable to listen to your thoughts and to find out what your heart is telling you. If you never allow yourself any alone time, you might never find out what your dreams, desires or passions really are.
Change is critical to your success and happiness. I cringe to think what might happen in our lives if we don’t allow ourselves the opportunity to make the appropriate changes.
Sure, we can pretend that we don’t need to change, that there is nothing wrong with our lives. Then, however, we soon forget the consequences of not taking action and making the changes we know we need to make. One story that illustrates this point well is from
Samuel Whitman. The ice storm wasn’t generally destructive. True, a few wires came down, and there was a sudden jump in accidents along the highway…. Normally, the big walnut tree could easily have borne the weight that formed on its spreading limbs. It was the iron wedge in its heart that caused the damage. The story of the iron wedge began many years ago when the lad of a white-haired farmer toiled on his father’s homestead. The sawmill had then only recently been moved from the valley, and the settlers were still finding tools and odd pieces of equipment scattered about…. On this particular day, it was a faller’s wedge–wide, flat and heavy, a foot or more long, and splayed from mighty poundings, which he found in the south pasture…. (The wedge is put in a cut made by an axe and then struck with a large hammer to enlarge the cut.) Because he was already late for dinner, the lad laid the wedge…between the limbs of the young walnut tree his father had planted near the front gate. He would take the wedge to the shed right after dinner, or sometime when he was going that way. He truly meant to, but he never did. The wedge was there between the limbs, a little tight, when he attained his manhood. It was there, now firmly gripped, when he married and took over his father’s farm. It was half grown over on the day the threshing crew ate dinner under the tree…. Grown in and healed over, the wedge was still in the tree the winter the ice storm came. In the chill silence of that wintry night…one of the three major limbs split away from the trunk and crashed to the ground. This so unbalanced the remainder of the top that it, too, split apart and went down. When the storm was over, not a twig of the once-proud tree remained.
Early the next morning, the farmer went out to mourn his loss…. Then, his eyes caught sight of something in the splintered ruin. “The wedge,” he muttered reproachfully. “The wedge I found in the south pasture.” A glance told him why the tree had fallen. Growing edge-up in the trunk, the wedge had prevented the limb fibers from knitting together as they should.
If we neglect change, if we try to bury our problems in our life, the wedge of not changing will be more destructive than the hammer of change. Open yourself up to see what you really want to become. Set the course and then make the changes. You and you alone can navigate your life. See the horizon of success and never let anything take you off course.
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