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6 Steps that Lead to Changes that Last

stickCognitive blind spots present a significant roadblock to the full realization of individual human potential.  There are many kinds of blind spots, including those that are common to all humans such as the Bandwagon Effect, where individuals become attracted to popular trends, or the Restraint Bias, where individuals overestimate their capacity to resist temptation.  Even our normal personality can create these blind spots.  Often our strengths, if overdone, can create a blind spot in the opposite pole.  For instance, high levels of assertiveness might create a blind spot around empathy or assertiveness might slide over into aggressiveness.

There are 6 steps that lead to resilient personal change, given our knowledge about blind spots. In this article, I will use the example of an individual trying to overcome credit card debt:

  1. An individual becomes aware of what isn’t working or what needs to improve. This might come via a formal assessment or some other type of outside feedback. It is often useful to use instruments with clients because assessment tools can define potential areas to address.  Awareness is the absolute precursor to resilient change. Your emotional intelligence assessment suggests that you may have difficulty with impulse control.
  2. An individual acknowledges the feedback even though he may dispute its relevancy. The assessment said I have low impulse control?  That’s me.  I just go with what I feel in the moment.  I don’t want to change who I am.
  3. An individual notices the impact of the behavior at deeper level by noticing it active in his own life. Come to think about it, often I just buy things for no reason. 
  4.  An individual realizes the connection between the problem or blind spot and a consequence. I have high credit card debt and this impulsiveness could be the reason.
  5. An individual resolves to address the blind spot because he himself has now identified this as an important behavior having real impact on his life. Being spontaneous makes me adaptable.  Being impulsive often leads to poor spending decisions.  Now I am in debt and I have no personal freedom because I have no money.
  6. Strategies and goals are formulated to address the problem. I will shop only with cash.  I will only carry one credit card, etc…

The steps are essentially the same no matter what type of change you seek.  The brain relies heavily on the medial prefrontal cortex when going through this process, especially the last steps when we identify why we need to make a change.   As you can see, the early steps produce some degree of awareness but that doesn’t guarantee change.  Only when an individual explores the real impact of the behavior on his or her life will he/she find the why to press through to something new.  Our brains like efficiencies, so we often default to our usual ways unless there’s a good reason to adapt.   Therefore, coaches must be listening for the why, while resisting the urge to define it for the client.

We know that we can direct change in our lives and the lives of our clients. Every day our brain changes in some small way in response to new experiences.   However if we want to have an impact as to how this will all unfold at a macro level, (given that brains trend toward efficiencies like personality and habits), it is very important that we are mindful of the 6 steps that lead to resilient personal change.

Ann Holm

Ann Holm, MS, ACC, draws on 25 years of experience as a speech pathologist to help clients achieve maximum personal potential using brain-based principles and a broad base of individual assessment tools. Ann is an MBTI Master Practitioner, Intentional Leadership Master Coach; she is also certified to use the MBTI Step III and the EQi 2.0. Learn more at www.annholm.net

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