Change? Me?

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Change is hard.

Okay, maybe that is not the most profound thing I’ve written. But it is still true. In a meeting this week, I was chatting with a colleague and he commented, “Research says it takes twenty-one days to develop a new habit. I think that’s optimistic.”

I agree. When you want to change something in your life, it usually means you need to start with changing something about yourself. And changing yourself—while easier than trying to change other people—takes courage and stick-to-it-iveness.

It is a brave thing to do—to admit to yourself that not everything in your life is hunky-dory, and that you might be the cause.

Take the story of a manager I know who has continual turnover in her staff. She wonders why she can’t find any good people; I wonder why she cannot see that she is part of the problem. There is a pattern here, and unless she is willing to see the pattern and change it, it will keep repeating itself. Either her interview process is flawed which keeps her from identifying the right people, or her management style is an issue because people won’t stay, or…

When I point this out, she is like the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand. In refusing to see what part she played in creating this situation, she can go on believing that everyone else is the problem.

It is easier—sometimes a self-defense mechanism—to see other people as the problem and not acknowledge that you have played a part. To see your own flaws means you have to take responsibility for the situations you find yourself in. And then you have choices to make: do nothing, so nothing changes. Or to do something, change something about yourself or your actions, to make things better.

Change is hard. In the long run, doing nothing may just be even harder.