A Formula for Change

By Patti Baron Schreiber
06.27.2012

Recently, one of the LinkedIn discussion groups I’m in hosted one of the most prolific discussions I’ve seen. A simple question, put to the group by a member named Guido, had over 680 comments. At one point I was getting over 20 new comment notices a day, compelling me to adjust my settings for the group.

The question Guido asked was this: How can we change ourselves?

From philosophical theories to “pull yourself up by the bootstraps and just do it” perspectives, the comments flew. As a professional coach and personal development junkie, I read them with great interest. And, I have my own answer to this question which is this:

                                          We can change ourselves.

However, depending on the level of change we are trying to create, it can be a challenge without help. We only know what we know. If the change we want was never modeled for us nor the opportunity to add new tools to our personal toolkit made available, creating lasting change can be difficult. This is because we tend to default to our comfortable (sometimes negative) patterns, particularly in demanding situations.

Change Starts Here

Ultimately, change begins with self-awareness. Acknowledging the need or desire to change is the first step. Assessments, both individual and 360’s, are helpful in providing insight into areas in need of change as well as insight into how others see us. Coaching, workshops, a customized training plan and journaling are all excellent ways to make lasting change in our lives.

Change Requires Action

I am a believer in the notion that change requires action. Reading a book is not going to integrate change into our lives. We may absorb some new ideas but how do we effectively implement those ideas into real life action? The most successful clients I’ve worked with were willing to use the tools and work the assignments I gave them. The harder they worked the more change they accomplished.

A Formula for Change

I like the formula that looks like this:
THOUGHTS -> -> EMOTIONS ->-> ACTIONS

In order to change ourselves at the action level, we have to get to the emotions and thoughts that are driving the actions. Any personal trainer worth their fee will tell you that coaching a client to lose weight or work out will not get the desired results until you get into their head and their heart. Knowing the proper techniques to do this is both an art and a science.

Doing the work that gets at the thoughts and emotions that drive the actions we so want to change is the key to creating an alternative to our default pattern of behavior. Sometimes that work is like peeling away the layers of an onion – we may not even be aware of the subconscious thoughts ingrained in our minds unless we peel back the emotions and actions to find them.

One Option for Awareness

As a coach, one of my favorite instruments to work with is the Social & Emotional Intelligence (SEI) Assessment. It takes a look at 26 core competencies linked to leadership and engagement. Available as both individual and 360 online assessments, SEI is an invaluable tool in designing a custom professional development plan. By focusing on both strengths and vulnerabilities, it provides a solid starting place from which to coach.

Numerous research studies show that the competencies associated with this assessment are linked to increased engagement, sales, productivity and reduced turnover. Companies that have implemented and measured success with programs centered on SEI include Avon, Sheraton, PepsiCo and even the Air Force.

IQ versus EQ

If you are not familiar with the concepts of SEI, these are the coachable skills needed to thrive in relationships including but not limited to business relationships. While IQ is a well known and respected measurement of intelligence, it is fairly fixed at birth and does not have a direct correlation to social development. We all know individuals who are very smart, likely have high IQs, but are “stuck” due to an inability to relate with others effectively. EQ (SEI’s equivalent to IQ) has a direct correlation to social development and it can be improved with coaching.

Research has shown that high SEI scores are a much better predictor of success among executives, managers and employees at all levels. But using SEI as a measure of our capacity for success is not about categorizing people based on their unique gifts or areas of weakness. It is about identifying those strengths and weaknesses and using that information to increase self-awareness, growth, and guide each individual toward a more successful and fulfilling life

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