We don’t seem to be very good at change. We all want to, yet the majority of us run through cycles that start with big attempts, followed by doubt after a couple set-backs, then complete inaction or regression over time. This process leads some to believe change is not possible. A belief that kills dreams and stops action before it even starts.
But, what if it’s the wrong question? What if, for most of the things we are trying to do, become, or attempt, we don’t need to change at all?
Change, by definition, is to “make or become something different.” For most people, the thought of becoming different, is a deal breaker from the start. It’s scary, it seems foreign, and history does not seem to be on our side. Yet, most of the “change” I have experienced in my own life, or helped other people with in theirs, has very little to do with becoming something different.
In many cases, people aren’t changing at all, they are adapting. And adapting is something people are really good at. People adapt to changing environments, requirements, and challenges all of the time. They battle cancer, they raise kids with little or no money, they learn to thrive after horrible accidents, and they make the best of really crappy situations. Every one of us has had to adapt and every one of us has been successful at it.
The reason we do this so well at adapting is because the focus is the exact opposite of how most people view change. When you talk with someone that has had to adapt to something challenging, they often say things like, “I didn’t know I had it in me!” or “I didn’t know I could be so strong!” They say things that indicate something being drawn out of them, about finding out who they really are, and not about them being something different. The difference is form not being.
This same process happens when people adapt their current talents in new directions. A consistent smoker becomes a consistent runner because they focus on adapting there proven habit of consistency. A passionate advocate becomes a passionate salesperson because they adapt the passion they already know is available. And the most hard headed, pain in the ass employee, becomes the most dedicated and driven manager because they adapt the underlying grit in a new direction.
Can people change? Who cares? They can adapt, and we can help them do that, but only if we are willing to draw out the strengths they already have.
Can you change? Who cares? You can adapt your underlying strength, your unique genius, and your individual passions to whatever direction you want. But only if you are willing to recognize them and bring them out.
We fail at “change” so often because we continue to try be someone we aren’t instead of realizing, and drawing out, the greatness that is already within. Start focusing on what is within and you might just find outcomes that look a lot like change on the outside. Only you’ll know the secret. The greatness was there are along.