The root of the word potential is the word potent, meaning power. Our potential is our intrinsic power to make certain things happen. Our potential for success is a measure of our power to succeed in certain endeavours. If we have an abundance of the resources we need to succeed in a particular area, we have a high potential for success in that area.
There is something important we need to understand about change. Change comes in all sorts of forms – we can change jobs, change relationships, change where we live, change our eating habits, or change how much we exercise. These different changes have one thing in common: the change process. Although they all demand different behaviours, they all involve the same processes.
The Change Process
To make any of these changes you first need to start thinking about making the change. You start thinking about it, mulling the pros and cons around in your mind. You might talk to friends or family to see what they think. You might be worried about it, not sure whether it’s really the right move or whether you can do it. Sometimes you spend a long time thinking about it; at others, hardly any time at all.
If the change is something you think is right for you, you may eventually come to a place of decision. You make a commitment to do it; you might not be sure how you will do it, but you decide to make it happen. Once you have made this decision you can begin to prepare for it.
Preparation may be simple or complex, depending on the nature of the change, your current knowledge and skills, and the availability of resources. Careful preparation is important for success.
Once you feel confident in your preparation, you need to take action. You need to engage in change behaviours. This may involve getting up each morning to go to the gym, applying for jobs and going for interviews, attending auctions and bidding, buying and cooking the food you know you should be eating, or whatever the particular change demands. This is the part of the process where you can see things changing; people are doing different things.
When people start doing different things it is both exciting and unnerving. They are excited because they feel they are making progress; they are anxious because the process is difficult to maintain and they can easily get discouraged. This is where they face the challenges of developing new behaviours that have not yet become habits.
In the thick of change many people feel like giving up. Sometimes they do, for a while. But if they come back to it and persist, they begin to break through. Eventually the new behaviours become easier to do. They develop new routines, and get used to it. But even here there is no room for complacency. New relationships need to be constantly nurtured; a deep desire for junk food may still try to lure you back to old eating habits; there may be a million reasons why sleeping in is more appealing than going to the gym.
This is the change process. Whatever the change, the process is the same – you think about it, you decide to do it, you prepare, you take action, you face challenges, you may go backwards for a while, and you have to keep it going in the long term.
The Power to Change
How good do you think you are at the change process? What do you require to be good at it?
Some people are okay at parts of the change process, and bad at other parts. Have you met people who are great at deciding to do new things, but rarely follow through? They get really excited at the prospect of change, but never take action. Or if they do they are easily discouraged and give up quickly. Other people start and make good progress for a while, but they never manage to keep it going. They join the gym, turn up regularly for a while, make some progress, then they disappear. And some people would be really good at following through if they would first make a decision, but it is almost impossible to get them to commit in the first place.
People like this have problems with their potential for change. To be successful at change, you have to be good at all parts of the change process, not just some parts. People who are good at all parts of the change process have change fitness.
The Benefit of Change Fitness
People with change fitness possess resources that make them good at the change process. Since the change process lies behind all kinds of change situations, people with change fitness are successful at making change in many and varied situations. But if you struggle with the change process, you will struggle with change in all but the simplest of situations.
Do you want the benefits of change fitness in your life? What would you attempt if you were a lot more change fit than you are right now? And do you want to work with people who are change fit? Imagine if your entire workforce were great at committing to change, thorough in their preparation, ready to take action, resilient when challenges arise, and great at follow through. What could you achieve if they were like that? Think about all the problems that would fade away if you didn’t continually have to keep people focused, on track, and ensuring they don’t quit.
The Change Gym
The Change Gym is a place where you develop fitness – not physical fitness but change fitness. This is where you learn how to get good at the change process. We know exactly what you need to do to become change fit, and it can happen. But you first need to decide you want to become more change fit, and you need to be prepared to take action.
When you’re ready to start, we will assess your current level of change fitness with a special test we have developed. That will show us what you’re good at, and which areas you need to develop. We will give you exercises to help you develop change fitness in all areas and follow you through the process. We will answer your questions and help you when you need it.
The Change Gym is a unique place, but for it to be effective, you need to decide to do something for yourself. I encourage you to think seriously about developing your change fitness, or that of your staff. Remember, you can achieve more when you are change fit.
Dr Steve Barlow