Learn, Change or Die
What's killing us: smoking, drinking, diet, stress and lack of exercise has not changed for decades. From Fast Company, the May cover story is "Change or Die." As you can tell by the title, it is about changing behavior, whether it is for health reasons or business. John Kotter, a Harvard Business School Professor says that even in business " The central issue is never strategy, structure, culture, or systems. The core of the matter is always about changing the behavior of people."
MYTH: CRISIS IS A POWERFUL IMPETUS FOR CHANGE
REALITY: Ninety percent of patients who've had coronary bypasses don't maintain changes to the unhealthy lifestyles that worsen their severe heart disease and greatly threaten their lives.
MYTH: CHANGE IS MOTIVATED BY FEAR
REALITY: It's too easy for people to go into denial of the bad things that might happen to them. Compelling, positive visions of the future are a much stronger inspiration for change.
MYTH: THE FACTS WILL SET US FREE
REALITY: Our thinking is guided by narratives, not facts. When a fact doesn't fit our conceptual "frames" - the metaphors we use to make sense of the world - we reject it. Also, change is inspired best by emotional appeals rather than factual statements.
MYTH: SMALL, GRADUAL CHANGES ARE ALWAYS EASIER TO MAKE AND SUSTAIN
REALITY: Radical, sweeping changes are often easier because they quickly yield benefits.
MYTH: WE CAN'T CHANGE BECAUSE OUR BRAINS BECOME "HARDWIRED" EARLY IN LIFE
REALITY: Our brains have extraordinary plasticity,. meaning that we can continue learning complex new things throughout our lives assuming we remain truly active and engaged.
Kotter has hit on a crucial insight. "Behavior change happens mostly by speaking to people's feelings," he says. "This is true even in organizations that are very focused on analysis and quantitative measurement, even among people who think of themselves as smart in an MBA sense. In highly successful change efforts, people find ways to help others see the problems or solutions in ways that influence emotions, not just thought."
So, all the facts and figures in the world will not do much good in changing behavior. Maybe we should all take a page or two out of the playbook from Alcoholic's Anonymous "AA" or any twelve step program to gain enlightenment and awareness of our own souls. Of course, the alternative is to pop another prozac, go shopping, have a drink, go back to bed, or be marginal for a life time.
All of the stories, metaphors, and feelings I have are invented in my head. They are the compass that guides me every day through life's ups and downs. A few of the simple ideas I've learned along the way are: identify with someone's feelings "feel their pain" instead of comparing; don't take life too seriously; look at the big picture - zoom out; try to learn something new every day; don't take anyone or anything for granted; enroll yourself to help others get what they want; and pay attention.
What's interesting about all this talk of change, enlightenment, and learning is the cooperation and understanding that we all need from other people in order to move forward. Sure it helps to have a trusted partner, mentor, or sponsor to help guide us and identify those blind spots. My thinking is that the more connections I make with other people, the more I can learn about myself and everything else. This next link is about the Renaissance Man in all of us.
Whither the Renaissance Man? from Technology Review is an article about, "Our current age of information has rightly been called a second renaissance. But what ignites a renaissance? It has to do with bringing together ideas and cultures in fresh ways and with unprecedented intensity."
I have plenty to learn! In fact, Ideascape, the tool I developed was created with those ideas in mind - bringing together ideas and cultures from diverse sources to create, innovate and help people and businesses move forward.
Kathy on Headrush writes about the "Difference between Japan and US". "Beauty and attention to design detail... everywhere I turned during my two week stay (Tokyo and Kyoto), I saw it. Every--and I mean every Japanese restaurant (including the fast-food sushi joints) had an architectural bent. A sense of style. An aesthetic sensibility you just don't see throughout the US!"
She goes on to tell about her experience visiting the Arts section of a local bookstore ..."I had to fight my way in while Japanese of all ages were browsing through books on everything from architecture to zen gardens to pop culture graphics to photography to illustration and... (not anime, which got its OWN section)."
How do you change behavior? What are you want to learning today?