Tag Archives: Make a change

Willpower is Not Enough

“Pessimism never won any battle.”

-Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

 

In our last lesson, I talked about making personal changes this year and the success my students have had when they followed Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan, and Switzler’s (2011) Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success.

Change anything

In my business networking group, I offered to work with anyone who was interested in the change process. If you are interested in taking on a personal change project, you need to find at least one other person who is interested in making a change. You don’t need me. There is nothing magical about my presence, but I will do my best to guide you through the change process through each lesson over the next month.

 

Willpower

Let’s begin with the concept of willpower. Willpower is a good starting point. As Eisenhower said, “Pessimism never won any battle.” Nevertheless, willpower isn’t a magic bullet. It is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for change.

The authors argue that the reason you fail is that you do not realize how much the odds of change are stacked against you. Many people rely on willpower only to be outmatched as the other sources of influence conspire to overwhelm them. They wrote:

The willpower trap keeps them in a depressing cycle that begins with heroic commitment to change, which is followed by eroding motivation and terminated inevitably by relapse into old habits. Then, when the built-up pain of their bad habits becomes intolerable, they muster up another heroic but doomed attempt at change. We feel as if we are ascending a summit when in fact we’re simply walking a treadmill: Lots of effort; no progress. That’s the willpower trap.[1]

Ego scire Latine

I am not sure that my translation is correct, but it should read: “I will learn Latin.” I am just learning.

Since students in my Organizational Behavior class are taking on a change project, I decided that this year I would learn 7th grade Latin so that I could help my daughter when she gets into it next year. We homeschool, and our curriculum will have her translating large sections of the Iliad by her senior year. I need to be able to help her. I realized that, despite my best intentions, I have not learned any Latin last year. I had the Latin books sitting on my desk for the better part of a year, and I told myself that I would do it every day, but despite my desire, I have not learned Latin. Over the last year, I read the first three pages of the book. And this is the point: Willpower is not enough.

Now, I have fully embraced the change process and I have gained leverage on myself using the six sources of influence. As I write this lesson, I have completed 2 & ½ of 15 lessons covering 39 exercises and 42 pages of the First Year Latin book. I have completed this in 16 days.

How did I do it? It wasn’t a fresh burst of willpower; I did it by harnessing the six sources of influence outlined below. If we can get these sources on our side, we significantly increase the odds that we will be successful.

 

The Six Sources of Influence

The six sources of influence are listed below. Over the next three weeks, I will describe each of them in greater detail, but for now, here is a list:

Source 1 – Personal motivation (What do you need to do to “love what you hate?”)

Source 2 – Personal ability (How will you “do what you can’t?”)

Source 3 – Social motivation (What must you do to “turn accomplices into friends?”)

Source 4 – Social Ability (What must you do to “turn accomplices into friends?”)

Source 5 – Structural motivation (How will you “invert the economy?”)

Source 6 – Structural ability (What will you do to “control your space?”)

Three months from now, we will look back and see how much we have changed.

 

What About You?

Are you ready to commit to a personal change? Join us. Get the book. Find at least one other person in your group that will be an accountability partner, and choose a goal. Make sure that you can quantify that goal. Let’s get started.

 

References

[1] Patterson, K., (2011). Change anything: The new science of personal success. New York: Business Plus. (pp. 5-6).

References

[i] Patterson, K., (2011). Change anything: The new science of personal success. New York: Business Plus. (pp. 10-11).
-Darin Gerdes

______________

gerdes

Dr. Darin Gerdes is an Associate Professor of management in the School of Business at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on www.daringerdes.com are his own.

This post was originally created for Great Business Networking (GBN), a networking organization for business professionals where Dr. Gerdes is the Director of Education.

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Filed under Books, Change, Effectiveness, Motivation, Success

Isn’t It Time to Make A Change?

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

-Leo Tolstoy

 

Every other spring, I teach an advanced organizational behavior class. Beyond the regular textbook, I require my students to read Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan, and Switzler’s (2011) Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success. I also require them to work through a semester-long change project following the book’s principles.

Change anything

I require students to take on a change project that will last for about 3 months. It should be important enough to merit their time, difficult enough to stretch them, and manageable enough to be completed in three months. Most of them choose personal goal like losing weight or increasing savings. In my last class, students achieved some impressive results:

Eating right and losing weight:

    • One student lost 8 pounds by eating right.
    • Another student lost 10 pounds by eating right and playing more basketball.
    • Another lost 17 pounds by eating right and exercising.
    • Another lost 18.5 pounds by eating right and exercising.
    • Another student lost 11 pounds by focusing on running more.
  • Other health gains:
    • One student lost three inches from his waistline.
    • Another sedentary student walked 168 miles over the course of the semester.
    • Another student lowered cholesterol from 233 mg/dl the first week to 120mg/dl at the end of the semester (it was measured by a doctor).
  • Finances:
    • One student wanted to double her savings from $2,000 to $4,000. She failed in her stated goal, but she had $3,700 in savings by the end of the semester. I consider that success.
    • Another student was a compulsive shopper. She aggressively paid off much of her debt over the course of the semester. She created a budget, stopped all unnecessary spending, said “no” to every expenditure that was not necessary, renegotiated debt, cancelled credit card accounts, unsubscribed from all email marketing, and tracked every penny of every expenditure). By following this austere regimen, she paid off more than $10,000 during this class.
  • Other activities:
    • One student focused on being a better spouse (quantifying time and things done for her spouse).
    • Another focused on improving study habits (quantifying grades including standardized test grades for a national exam).
    • Another replaced television time with reading and exercise
    • Others focused on taking on more activities at work and avoiding negativity at work (this is more difficult to track, but still possible)

A few key elements were involved in successful change efforts. First, my students had to have a clear plan for change. They could not say that they, “wanted to be healthy.” They could say, “I will forgo fast food and exercise 5 days a week for at least 45 minutes each day.”

Second, they had a support group. They were grouped in teams and they were required to check in regularly with their teams to update them about their progress. This was powerful and you can create a group that will support you every week at GBN. You will see the same people every week. Surely some of them want to change too. Why not support each other?

Finally, they tapped into all six sources of influence. I will talk about them next week, but if you want to know why you have failed at making changes in the past, consider the following. The authors wrote:

To see how your typical change effort takes form, consider the following metaphor. You’re rather large SUV runs out of gas a half block from a gas station—just over a gently cresting hill. You decide to push the beast to the nearest pump, but this isn’t your old, tinfoil based VW bug that you could easily push by yourself; it’s the Sherman tank of soccer moms. So you wave down a half dozen rather large and muscular strangers to help you. Each put in a full effort. Each grunts and strains and pushes against the massive bulk—one person at a time. In response, your SUV just sits there with a smug look on its grille.

Now, as hopeless as this sounds, it’s about to get worse. Imagine that in addition to the fact that the people assisting you are working in isolation rather than in combination, there are six hefty strangers all pushing together to propel your truck back down the hill. Now you have an accurate image of why your change attempt feels so overwhelming. Our problem is not just that we’re only using one source of influence at the time; it’s also that those who aren’t pushing for us are usually pushing against us. This is precisely why we fail in our attempts at personal change.[i]

What About You?

Are you interested in learning how to make a personal change?

In our next lesson, I will tell you how these gains were accomplished. I will cover each of the six sources of influence, and this will give you some time to think of what you want to change, find a few friends who also want to make changes, and get the book before the next lesson.

 

References

[i] Patterson, K., (2011). Change anything: The new science of personal success. New York: Business Plus. (pp. 10-11).
-Darin Gerdes

______________

gerdes

Dr. Darin Gerdes is an Associate Professor of management in the School of Business at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on www.daringerdes.com are his own.

 

This post was originally created for Great Business Networking (GBN), a networking organization for business professionals where Dr. Gerdes is the Director of Education.

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Filed under Change, Effectiveness, Success, Uncategorized