28 Aug Inspiring Change – What Does it Take?
In the early years of my adult life, I lived within a bubble, of being a committed professional, a wife & mother, and cared about little else. It was a chance meeting that started me on the path of questioning some of my beliefs about life and living, and seeking knowledge of a higher self through self-reflection, and learning from the experiences of others. Gradually a vision started to emerge, of the person I wanted to become, and I realised that I would have to change some of the beliefs and behavior patterns I had grown up with, that had so far constituted much of my self-identity.
Looking back, I realise that I have been blessed on my journey of personal change, and today, I am committed to realising my vision of the person I want to be. Each day brings more happiness and fulfilment, and this has inspired me to help others by becoming a professional Coach. Even so, every now and then I slip backwards, and I have to pick myself up and re-dedicate myself to the ‘new me’, to help me move forward. I must mention here, that the appreciation and support of like-minded friends, who have shared similar experiences, has had a profound influence on me. And the people who know me best, ie my husband and two loving daughters, have cheered me on from the sidelines, to make my journey wonderful!
So what have I learnt about what it takes to change, to inspire oneself to become the person we want to be, happier, more fulfilled and even more successful? How can we take charge of our lives to bring changes that will help us move forward with confidence and a greater sense of control? What is positive change really all about?
First and foremost, it takes Courage to accept that the answers to most of our challenges lie within ourselves, and not in the blame we accord everyone and everything around us. Acknowledging that we need to change, is really the first step on the journey towards personal transformation. Our ego and self-image takes a beating, when we realise that many of the beliefs and behavior patterns we have grown accustomed to, are in fact, not serving us well. And that the lens through which we see ourselves and others, may in fact be a bit flawed! This awareness comes only through deep and honest reflection, and it helps us develop a better understanding of our strengths and limitations.
Being a Coach to successful senior professionals has been such a revelation to me, that despite their enormous success, they have the humility to accept that they may need to look at life and themselves differently. And to realise, that what made them successful in one sphere, may actually be working against them in other areas of their lives!
The second important requirement for positive change is Determination, ie the will to initiate the change process, and to see it through with great commitment. We make so many resolutions and promises to ourselves, but only when we take personal responsibility, does real change happen. No matter what the challenges, we move forward based on our own convictions, without waiting for motivation from other people or events. As one of my coachees aptly put it “Intention alone is not enough… you have to work at it, otherwise you won’t get results!”
Embarking on a journey of transformation can itself be very energising, and when mixed with a liberal dose of self-discipline, it makes for a potent combination! It is wonderful to see successful and time-starved professionals stretch their thinking into new areas, and dwell on how they can move forward to fulfill the commitments they have made to themselves (and their Coach).
Devising a strategy and action plan for change can be challenging, especially when attempted on our own. A good place to start the journey is by defining our vision of the person we want to be, and what attributes need to change for that to happen. With clarity on the goal, it becomes easier to devise a path and move ahead.
A Support structure is the third critical requirement for change. In the professional arena, the organisation can provide it through formal Coaching, and supportive processes that enable new behaviours to flourish. Acknowledgement from peers and colleagues, and a positive environment that encourages change becomes a crucial element in providing forward momentum. In the personal space, support can come from trusted friends and/or a partner or family member, provided it is given in a non-judgemental way. In both contexts, the support of a Coach can facilitate a process that could otherwise take a couple of years.
Inspiration and support can also come from books, which I drew upon greatly in my early years. I found that when I kept an open, positive mind, inspiration inevitably popped up from among the pages, something I may not have noticed if I wasn’t in a state of acceptance.
So Courage, Determination and Support are critical elements to enable our journey of personal transformation. There is no right time in life to start on this journey, each of us intuitively knows when we are ready. When we do begin, we must make sure to acknowledge every little success we have, and be patient in declaring the effort a success or failure. We may be feeling different inside, and making all the right moves, but it takes a while before others begin to notice the changes. They are so conditioned to looking at us in a certain way, that our new behaviors initially may seem like an exception rather than the norm!
It’s a long road, but one that has the potential to free us from our limitations, and help us lead happier and more fulfilled lives. And as we move towards a deeper understanding of our ‘true’ selves, we can work towards realising more and more of our true potential!