I attended a wonderful session led by Harvard professor Robert Kegan called Overcoming The Immunity to Change at the International Coach Federation conference.
Kegan outlined his process of personal development that explores the real reasons why people don’t change even if their habits could lead to their death.
I want to share with you the first step in Kegan’s process because I think there are amazing insights if you do this piece alone.
The question goes beyond being more happy or successful at business. The question you would ask would be for the people you admire to share a life improvement they think would be important for you.
I found this question fascinating not just in the answers I might get, but in determining who I would choose to ask. Without even asking these people the question, I could identify some parts of my life I would like to change because these people demonstrate the qualities I would love to own.
Then Kegan suggested to add ourselves to the group of people. You have to tell yourself what you think is the most important thing right now that you could improve.
Try it. What six people would you interview or bring together to ask their opinion on what should be your focus of personal development? What do these six people demonstrate to you that you think you lack? What would they want you to expand?
Look at your list of suggestions for growth. Choose one to focus on — What one thing would change your life if you could integrate it into who you think you are?
After you choose one area to focus on, ask yourself why you don’t do this, what you think would happen if you started doing this today, and what small steps can you take to begin to see that it is safe to demonstrate this trait.
For me, the advice I got from my “group of gurus” was to accept that the work I do is amazing and I don’t have to do anything else to prove my intelligence, power and worth. I know my dear friend Harriett would tell me this.
I don’t believe this now because I think there is more for me to do before I can call myself a success. And I’m afraid that if I believe I am a success already, that I will lose my edge and people will not seek my guidance. Telling the bitter truth about yourself can be very enlightening.
My next commitment is to work on some small steps to soften my self-judgment and bring some ease and grace into my days. How about you? What small test, or what Kegan calls an “experiment” can you try out to prove to yourself you can be more effective starting today?
Summary: Do you want to be more effective? Look to the people you admire to find the answers you have been seeking for years.
Although Kegan then led us through a process of uncovering the assumptions that keep us from changing, I think the awareness of what to focus on is a good first step. Try it and let me know what you think.