I can’t tell you how many times in my life someone has asked me “Have you lost some weight?” I used to proudly respond “Yes, I’ve lost 15 pounds recently.” However, after a lifetime of losing that same 15 pounds many times, I’m not so proud of the accomplishment anymore. The difficulty is losing the remaining 25 and keeping it all off. That takes a lifestyle change, not a diet. Ugh!!
Farson, our author says, “People can make lasting changes in themselves only through a commitment to a continuing discipline. For example, crash diets don’t work, but a permanent modification in one’s eating habits do. Visits to spas don’t work but the daily practice of exercising stretching, or weight lifting does.” He goes on to say, “The same is true in management. Lasting change comes only from the adoption of sound management principles that are practiced on a continuing basis. There are no quick fixes.”
How long have you stuck with the commitment to make the necessary changes? Three months? Six months? One year? Many years?
I will usually lose that 15 pounds in three or four months. But where is my weight a year later? That’s the true test.
In my consulting practice, I find that Leadership and Team Building changes follow a similar pattern. Even if the individual or team begin a new healthier approach to leading and teaming, it takes about six months of consistent new behavior before others will give them the benefit of the doubt. If there is a failure or setback any time during that first six months, the reaction by others tends to be “See, same old behavior. They didn’t truly change.” Unfortunately, the six-month clock starts over again and people only seem to grant so many “resets” before they solidify their perception that the changes will never be real.
After six months of consistent new behavior, I find that people will at least grant benefit of doubt. If there is a setback in the second six months’ people seem to say, “They’ve been pretty good at the change so far, let’s see if this is a momentary setback or a failure.” If the new behavior remains through the second six-month period, I find that most people don’t remember the old behavior or that it was ever a problem. The individual or team has accomplished the daily practice of exercising stretching, or weight lifting required to make permanent change.
People and teams can change. I have the data and experience to prove it. But it takes long-term commitment and dedication. Try it, you’ll like it.
This post is a continuation of my series on an in-depth look at a wonderful little book that’s twenty years old this year. The title is Management of the Absurd by Richard Farson. You may want to consider dropping back and reading the previous blog posts about ABSURD! I think it will put each new one in great context.