The Four Stages of Positive Change
There's a stupid reality show called "Naked and Afraid." Perhaps you've heard of it. I told my team that I didn't need to watch it since I experience that every time I get out of the shower and face the mirror--I'm naked--and I'm DEFINITELY afraid!
Seeing the "naked truth" about ourselves can sometimes lead to healthy, positive change. But how do we make sure that change actually takes place and, that it lasts?
I would argue that all positive, lasting change involves four stages. In our seminars, we cover this at length. Still for the sake of brevity and in the hopes of adding value to your change management process, let me summarize them here:
STAGE ONE: FOSTER DISCONTENT
This seems counter-intuitive, but if we don't create a complete dissatisfaction with the status quo, real lasting change can't happen. Oh, we might make some headway in the direction of change, but we will quickly revert back to our comfort zone unless we first hate that comfort zone with a passion. There are many ways to create this atmosphere in preparation for change. Questions re. the viability of the current situation can be crafted to help people come to the conclusion and disdain of today. Still, until there's a personal discontent with the present or a critical mass of opinion in an organization, implementation of change is likely a waste of time.
STAGE TWO: FOCUS ON THE FUTURE
This is where vision casting comes in. However, this vision casting must be specific and measurable, void of glittering generalities. For example, everyone would agree that "It would be great if I lost weight." That general idea will lead to nothing. Rather, "I will lose 10 pounds and be able to wear these jeans again by the first of next month," is more likely to be realized. Seeing yourself in the jeans with a target date to wear them paints a measurable, positive picture.
STAGE THREE: FLEE THE PAST...FAST!
This step is also counter-intuitive. Most people teach that change must be "slow and steady." I disagree. The slower we move in making major changes, the more opportunity there is for us to reverse course. Some use the old "frog in the boiling pot" analogy. They say, "Well, you know that if you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, he'll jump out. On the other hand, if you put him in water at room temperature and then slowly turn up the heat, you'll boil him alive." Well, frankly, I don't want to boil alive nor do I recommend that for corporations, churches, etc. I'm with Dave Ramsey, who teaches people fighting to get out of debt to "Run--Run--Run for your lives!" Dave loves to show a picture of a gazelle being chased by a cheetah to teach people to fight and move as quickly as they can to release themselves from credit card debt, etc. I think most change is like that--the faster we can do it, the better!
STAGE FOUR: FIGHT THE ZOMBIES.
In my book, "The Crucified Church," I talk a lot about this. In the movies, zombies are the "un-dead." They're dead, but they still stumble around eating people and/or turning them into zombies also. The only way to deal with zombies is to shoot them in the head. You can't negotiate with them. You can't befriend them. You have to kill them. Change zombies are like that too. Change zombies aren't people--they're habits, traditions, tactics and/or programs that are too closely linked with the old practices we've now changed. For example, if I lose 10 pounds by avoiding ice cream and my old habit was to eat a pint of Ben and Jerry's while watching Netflix at 7 PM three nights a week, getting rid of the ice cream may not be good enough. I might need to do something else at 7 those nights. If I keep watching Netflix at the same times weekly, I'll eventually start snacking...and eating a pint (or two) of ice cream again. No--I need to shoot the Netflix zombie in the head if I want that change to last. Every person and every organization has zombies that, in and of themselves, aren't bad. Still, they're connected to the old practices we're replacing in our change process. Thus, they're dead--but still walking around "un-dead." Find them--and blast them if you want your positive changes to last.
I trust this overview is helpful. Still, if you'd like to look at this in more detail, contact us at 860-938-2725 for a free consultation.