Throughout a lifetime there is a good chance that the adage “the more things change, the more they stay the same” will seem applicable. The essence of this philosophy only serves to more deeply root individuals into their existing comfort zones-essentially stifling change. Egos play an important role in bringing about or hindering change and, as a result, we often miss out on the wealth of knowledge and best intentions of people. But can change really happen, or is it an illusion?
“I think change is real if we are talking about dropping our less effective behaviors,” commented Betsey Upchurch, a CEO at P4 Consulting. “There is no reason to change who people are at the core, we are fine just as we are. But, there is often a need to change outdated beliefs, assumptions and behaviors that don’t get us the results we want.”
When people are “doing” instead of just talking, they are forced to make choices about their behaviors. And when the results of repeating old behaviors yield the same unwanted results, there can be an epiphany by some to make better choices, resulting in change.
But is change sustainable? The short answer is yes and no. Because human beings are creatures of habit, just discovering what is ineffective won’t create lasting change without working to form new habits.
“We can work with leaders in an organization and they can establish plans for change,” Upchurch commented. “But without a conscious effort, they can find themselves right back to the same old routine.”
Most experts agree that it can take three to six months to form a new habit, which can only be done through effort and attention. Many organizations underestimate the amount of effort it takes to form new, more effective habits, so they do not put enough time and effort into the changes they want to make both individually and collectively. Consequently, many training and change efforts fail because consistent follow up is not built in to the program. Coaching, learning groups, webinars, performance reviews, Individual Development Plans and further training are all ways to create some consistency of effort, allowing change to take root.
Why does it matter? George Land theorized in “Grow or Die: The Unifying Principle of Transformation,” that growth is fundamental to all things at all levels. As individuals, if we continue with ineffective behaviors, then we are destined for failure- both personally and professionally. As for organizations or companies, without growth, they yield to the competition. And as a society, we either find ways to coexist as individuals while together sustaining the planet Earth, or we lose it all. Does change matter? You bet it does.