Let’s face it, we would love to change things around us. Sometimes it can be the behavior of an employee or a colleague. We want them to change and we do not realize that our behavior play into the dissatisfaction game. We may say: “My work would be so much better if only Marc changed”. This type of thinking takes your power away. The type of changes that we would love to see in others reflects what we do not accept in ourselves. Self-Awareness and Emotional Intelligence are essential skills to develop. We have to make sure that the enhancement we foresee are aimed at the organization betterment not to transfer our anger on others. To raise awareness about ourselves, we must stop looking outside for a minute. The answer lays within you but it can be hard to accept. I invite you to make the following exercise:
1. Become aware of your mindsets and assumptions:
I encourage you to list the behavior you want other to improve when they work with you.
Should they be more organized?
Should they communicate better?
The areas of improvements you see in others mirror your own flaws. We see in others what we have inside of us, the bad and the good. Take a time to reflect about those points you wrote down, how do they come into play in your life? How uncomfortable do you feel facing the unorganized office you left yesterday?
2. Understand the sources of your mindsets and assumptions
In order to evolve and become a better leader and person there is a need to understand the origin of your beliefs. Why do you assume that those “flaws” are flaws? Where does those beliefs come from? How did they became a belief? This can bring you to old events which are most of the time linked to high emotional charges. You may feel ashamed, sad, angry and it is normal. Understanding the source of a “negative” belief or belief that create negativity is the beginning of the change process. Accept those thoughts, write them down so you do not keep them inside. Get them out. Using a change journal can help you.
3. Recreate better alternatives or beliefs
Now that you know what assumptions you made and where they originated from. I invite you to redefine your beliefs and needs. For each beliefs that you discover, write your antidote. Imagine an unorganized employee. He may in fact believe that he is not organized enough to succeed at work. Owning this belief made him an unorganized person trying to hide it to himself and the world. He came to realize that this was just a belief and he could choose to believe in something else. He could think of himself as learner who can integrate new strategies to become more and more organized. One step at a time.
4. Pay attention to your self-talk
One of the most difficult things to do is to make this little voice visible. You know the one saying: “You cannot do it”, “They all know you are a messy person”, “No one can change”. First, it takes some time to be aware of it because it can also be an emotion. Second, when you pay attention to it you may still believe it.
5. Recognize your old frames and use the new ones
As the observer take the time to recognize your old frames and think of the new frames you recreated. There is a need to distance yourself from your beliefs or self-talks. A good way is to either list them in a distanced way. In spite of saying: “I am messy”, say “I have the feeling that I am messy”. The phrasing makes a big difference as it allows you to be the observer and not anymore the actor.
6. Take responsibility for the way you feel
At the beginning of this article we saw that we may have a tendency to accuse other of causing our emotional reactions. Taking responsibility of our emotional state puts the power back into our hands. We then have to take action because we recognize our role in the creation of our negative emotional state. This is not an easy thing to do. If you understand how hard it can be to change yourself you will be able to help people who are also trying to change and maybe Marc is not such a bad in the end.
Change is not difficult because we are lazy. Change is difficult because we do not understand that we have to change our beliefs and assumptions in the first place. Self-awareness is essential to assess ourselves and understand our intentions. Look in others to find what makes you tick. This is probably something you have to work on. Learn about yourself and you will understand the world.