Getting things done when you’re not in charge pt.3

Thanks for your feedback from yesterday, I’ll follow up with volunteers next week. Before I get into real life examples, I thought it would be appropriate to frame the first conflict of getting things done when you’re not in charge by telling you the two key strategies of change -other than being committed to it. These are:

  • You can’t change anyone but yourself.
  • You cannot persuade anyone to change.

#1 You can’t change anyone but yourself.
People’s attempts to get others to change are legendary. It is hopeless. Whether you are the King of the world or a street sweeper, you can only indirectly change the behavior of others by changing yourself. Change occurs when others respond to the changes in you with changes of their own. It becomes a matter of tactics and persistence to attain your desired results.

#2 You cannot persuade anyone to change.
Forget nagging or lofty appeals; enduring change comes from changing behaviors. If you change behaviors, attitudes will follow. There is nothing of which I am more certain. Oh I know it rankles because this is anti-democratic and we want everyone to affirm our little plans don’t we? If you can’t move forward without the affirmation of a buy-in to change (yourself because that is all you can do) it really means your ego is on the line in seeking approval for your valuable ideas. You can’t effect change if you ask permission. And if you’re in a position of powerlessness, you have no leverage to compel anyone to change anything no matter how sunny your disposition. If you need affirmation and companionship on your journey, join a support group because change is hard, not fun, and nobody wants to go there. Any change centered support group that works (AA) is because behavioral change is the first requirement.

I know many people aren’t going to like such heavy handedness but if you follow the first rule of only being able to change yourself, the only person who is being dealt with in a heavy handed manner is you by you. The reason that changing behaviors to change attitudes works is related to CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. [I hope you follow those two links and read them so I don’t have to rehash all that.]

Being committed to change means bravery
Being committed to change bears mentioning. We all say we are but are we? It ties into my point of why you’re doing this (if you want affirmation, join a support group). Being committed to change means that the existing way is no longer tolerable to you, it is no longer an option.

Change involves risk and danger which is why people won’t want to go along with you. Putting yourself on the line means you could lose your job, your spouse or your business. It takes real bravery, the quiet kind that nobody sees or gives you credit for. Trust me on that one.

I want to be very clear about something here. Sometimes it is not the time to do it. That’s okay, realize it and own the decision. You’ll feel the better for it and stop complaining about the problem until you’re strong enough to deal with it because you will know it’s within your power to do so. That’s why my motto is Slavery or Bravery. Pick one. Our families are also threatened by our changes because it means they might have to change too.

The best change preparation tactic is to start hanging around people who already do what you want. Want to stop drinking? Join AA. Want to lose weight? Make friends with skinny people. Want to be a successful designer? Hang out with some. You can try their change on for size to see how it fits you before you have to do anything risky. In other words, my saying you should join a support group wasn’t marginalizing anyone in case I lost you up there. Trying on change for size is the gestation of attitudinal change that comes from changing behaviors. Changing behaviors to change attitudes is the only change that lasts.

Next week I’ll write about more practical examples including things I’ve done to effect change.

Related entries:
Getting things done when you’re not in charge
Getting things done when you’re not in charge pt.2
Workplace Management
Do sewing operators refuse to change?
How to get people to change
Leadership and implementing change

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3 comments

  1. Alexis Callaghan says:

    “for things to change first I must change”
    I used this mantra to change my life and it worked. As for bravery, yes, it takes courage to change. I liken “feel the fear and do it” to an experience I can identify with e.g. what did it feel like as a child to sit at the top of a slippery dip (slide)? did you feel scared? and at the bottom did you feel the exhilaration of the whoosh down the slide? Feeling great! As an adult one of the tactics I used to change was to look to the future. I had decided to moe interstate, one of the hardest things I have ever done, when I felt scared, I think of where I was going to go and what I had planned to do work wise etc. It kept me on track! and the move was one of the best things I have ever done for myself.

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