Desire to Change, What Gets in the Way and How to Overcome it

Human beings don’t resist change, they resist being changed!

In the course of our life, as human beings, we always strive to be a better version of ourself. Abraham Maslow saw this as a serious enough need for human kind that he puts it into his theory of human needs. As you analyse further his hierarchy of needs, you will begin to see this innate need to better ourself, to be a better version of self is implied in the lower needs and spelled out clearly in the higher needs.

Embedded is our

  • desire to love,
  • be loved,
  • possess self esteem,
  • understanding,
  • knowledge, and
  • beauty

is our need to be more than who we are. To go beyond the ordinary of what we call self. To be transformed, ultimately to be a better version of ourself.

While at the higher part of the pyramid, actualisation and transcendence spells clearly our need to improve and change.

If this is so, wouldn’t we as human beings, will continuously strive and not let anything get in our way of change?

Yet reality says otherwise. In fact we resist change, we oppose it, we create imaginary obstacles, we even enrol others not to change. All these despite our innate longing for change.

Why is this so? Well, human being are a complex creature. For every forward movement system there is one that operates alongside it that holds you back; like a counter-balance. We actually have a lot of counter balance systems existing in our psych. The counter-balance system to a forward moving one is called the comfort & safety system.

Our desire to change must move us ultimately into a phase that is safe and comfortable. This is the default mode of our psych. This system is the overlord system. It sometimes defies logic and rational. It is so powerful that it overrides all other systems. It is an efficient system honed by years of practice from when we were born (the need to keep babies coddled) to adulthood. Besides being efficient it is not always effective. The reason for this comes from the fact that this system is lazy. It goes into auto mode to make things easy. It uses generalisation to do just this. It indiscriminate between the concrete and the abstract; the physical and non-physical world.

It seems like a tussle of systems yet majority of the time it is a one sided fight with the comfort and safety system winning.

So, naturally the question to ask is how do we win in this tussle? There are many answers to this question; some are harsh while some are subtle. Not one is better than the other; only different. Personally, I prefer the subtle approach because I believe the subtle way is evolution while the harsh way is a revolution; one lasts the other might last, one is gradual while the other is brutal, one is responsive while the other is reactive, one comes from the context of thriving while the other comes from the context of surviving, one is of confidence while the other is of desperation.

Well, the secret for the subtle way can be found in strongest trait of the system. It is true that in our strength lies our weakness. Remember that it generalises and seeks comfort and safety? Well, the secret is to play into that.

Start off with something non-threatening, small not big and a little bit outside yet besides the edge of our comfort. I call this place The experimentation space. This space is a space that the system will tolerate. The other things about the system is that it operates on proof. So make sure while you are in the experimentation space you create a result that the system likes. Then keep creating the result a few times (because the systems loves consistency) to entice the system to adopts the experimentation space as a part of the system thus making it no more an experimentation space but a comfy and safe space. You keep creating, easing, consisting and pushing the experimentation space until the desired change happens 😉

The only downside to this subtle way is that is requires a tremendous amount of patience and persistence!

But wait, maybe we should not look at it as a downside but as a bonus! How to do this, that is for another story that deals with another system of ours. 😉

Stay tuned.

Key to designing Personal Mastery Impact into Trainings

Recently, I was in Colombo conducting a Training of Trainer program for 40 odd trainers of UNDP HackaDev Social Innovation Camp; a 5 days intensive nationwide Social Innovation bootcamp. The bootcamp was designed with some elements of personal growth weaved into the technical subjects making it uniquely different that other such camps. This tweak was necessary to add the soul of innovation and entrepreneurship into the participants.

The 40 odd trainers were divided into two batches. In the second batch, I was posed a question on the effectiveness of training especially trainings on personal mastery and growth. Usually, what the trainer noticed was that at the end of such trainings, participants are euphoric and motivated with high-energy. Upon seeing this, we assume they got value and the training is a success. However, once they get back to the real world, the euphoria, motivation and high energy disintegrate and reality kicks-in. Upon seeing this, we now assume the training doesn’t actually work because all that “feel good – look good” factors have all died down.

This is actually a very common thing that happens with such training. The biggest reason is the fact that during the training, the space is safe and conducive for exploration. However, that kind of space diminishes quickly once we are out of the training i.e. real life.

However, if a training is well designed to take this into consideration, the outcome will be different. The impact can be designed. We need to have faith. But what is the secret sauce to designing this? Well, read on. The secret sauce will be revealed below.

To continue, it is important to first touch on the faith i mentioned above. My mentor, once reminded me to have faith because the work we do as personal growth practitioners is like planting time bombs. Some will “explode” fast, some takes time, some requires a specific condition/situation to explode.

I understood this because I truly believe that as human beings, we are a sum of all our experiences. It is in this quotation that lies the design secret to ensure impact for learners.

The key in the design of an impactful personal mastery initiative is EXPERIENCE. The more intense the experience, the bigger the time-bomb is. Experience is the fuse of the time-bombs we plant in our learners. If the element of experience is not designed into the training or workshop, chances is that we will have the same result as the training the trainer mentioned earlier in the article. This usually happens when the training is done impacting only the cognitive domain and not the affective domain of learning.

Once the affective domain is impacted, a human being can’t undo it. It becomes a part of them. Once an experience is embedded into a human being, it will affect their worldview and this is where the impact will start. Therefore, experience is the secret sauce to an impactful personal mastery trainings.

However, the appreciation of the experience might not be immediate. This is what we refer to as being time-bombs. For some, the appreciation comes almost instantly while other takes time and certain condition. Which ever way it is, the impact will happen. Have faith.

Note: Since as human beings we are a sum of all our experiences, we are all a new being every single moment. Our experience colours our worldview-glasses. We see the world through these glasses. So as the glasses tint differently, so do the world we see. The same world now looks different. For example, in the ‘same’ learning event we will see different things due to our ‘new’ glasses. (The tinted worldview are the glasses we wear to see the world around us)