“I’d like you to stop doing that” is slightly different than “I’d like you to stop being that way”. Doing and being are age-old adversaries, still in tension today. Learning a new skill like how to use a computer is different than changing a behaviour of like being angry, happy, self-loathing, and so on.
Behaviour change is hard. It’s one of the reasons New Year Resolutions are often abandoned before January hits double digits. It’s easy to have grandiose visions of the person, family, organisation we want to be or become. Getting there, figuring out where to step next each day, is the hard part.
Beyond the visions, we need to do the work of breaking the vision into bit size pieces for each day. It’s helpful to recognise when the change we are seeking is a skill or a behaviour, a habit or something to achieve. Different approaches are needed for each.
And some things we will learn or change easily, while others have a long arc. And sometimes we will succeed one day, but the next fall back into old patterns. Most things are learnable however as we learn through practice (we learned how to speak in this way as a baby). The other thing that helps are guides – teachers, mentors, coaches, and so on – as well as other types of guides – templates, manuals, process maps, and so on. And stories and examples we can point to – “this is what I’d like to see” or “here is a time when you did it” and so on.
But all of it requires time, practice and patience. And this might be the hardest part as it appears counter-cultural. It appears not possible. But it is in fact the only way we learn. And for that, we need all need a community to encourage us, to hold ourselves accountable, to not let us down so we can do the hard work.
We can all do this for each other. None of us go to bed at night wishing we had less encouragement in the day. We can choose to be generous with each other.
Who can you encourage today? Who can you do the hard work with? Who is your community?