Do you have any idea how exhausting making choices and using self-control is. Tests have shown that when people are forced to make difficult choices, they have very little energy left to make a second choice. Even if the second choice is relatively easy! Change is hard because people wear themselves out, so what looks like laziness is often exhaustion.
In their book ‘Switch’, Chip and Dan Heath refer to making choices as Riders and Elephants. The Rider gives direction and the Elephant needs motivation, one cannot work successful without the other. The Rider can only direct the Elephant for a short time, and if the Elephant is not motivated it will go its own way and drain the Rider’s energy as he tries to direct the Elephant in the direction he wants to go. If you can find a way to break through to feelings and emotions, things can change as the Elephant becomes motivated. If the Rider is unsure of the direction, he can lead the Elephant round in circles, and what looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity. The Rider needs to be sure of the direction to go in and the Elephant must be motivated to go with the Rider.
The third important factor is to ‘Shape the Path’. Guidance and clarity of the direction must be clear. Many times we think there is a people problem and there is but it’s not the people we think, it’s the leaders. Change is more likely to occur if leadership clearly presents the way forward and provides tangible outcomes. Change can be made despite having few resources and little structural authority. Wherever you want to make this change, you can make it happen if you direct the Rider, motivate the Elephant and Shape the Path.
Be careful not to over analyze and end up spinning your wheels, this will happen if the directions are not clear. People must be shown where to go, how to act and what destination to pursue. One really good solution for problems is to look for the ‘bright spots’. This means when there is a problem, find the areas where things are working well and concentrate on them, find out why they are working well and how to replicate them. These bright spots give the Rider direction when trying to bring about change. This method works well, as opposed to finding what is broken and trying to fix it.
Human nature tends to concentrate on the negative instead of the positive, think about the news; bad news is always shown because if it was all good news people would not watch it. This is very sad but true and we need to find ways of concentrating on the positive and working towards replicating the positive and the good things – even if it goes against our human nature. We need to focus on solutions instead of problems. It is harder to think about and recognize what is working well and trying to keep it working well than it is to look for problems to fix.
At InSource Solutions and SightBridge Consulting, the culture of the company encourages this positive outlook and it spreads to our clients where we encourage them to repeat the good things that are working well. We look for the bright spots and work on replicating them rather than looking for what is broken and trying to fix it. As time goes on the good things that keep working well encourage clients to look for other areas where things are working well and replicating them.