Why change falls short

Cowardice over courage

We live in a time of change. We aim for change and embrace it. We nurture and cherish our ability to change. But have you ever wondered how come we change and change and change, but somehow nothing seems to change?

A dear friend once told me a wise thing: “First change the way you think, only then should you change the way you act.” If you start with acting differently, then eventually your different actions will not lead to a different outcome. Changing the way you think – changing your beliefs – is what needs to come first.

Now let’s look into transformation. This is where the magic happens. What we really aim for is transformation. To arrive at a new reality. A reality that replaces our current reality.

You can change your outfit, you can change your name, you can change your org-chart. You can, but the big problem is, you can change it back again. Leaving the door open for going back to where you came from, means nothings actually changes. That’s why change doesn’t work. It’s the easy way, but also the useless way.

What you want is transformation. Transformation means that there is no way back. There is no escape route. Whereas change is for cowards, transformation is for the courageous. Transformation is much harder than change. You can’t manage transformation. You can’t schedule transformation. You can’t force is. The only thing you can do is enable it; create favorable conditions for transformation to take place.

There are three things you need to understand about transformation:

1: Transformation happens one person at a time. A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach doesn’t work, because everyone is different. We all have different triggers.

2: Transformation takes time. As we are all different, we all have our own pace.

3: Transformation is tough. Think of how a chubby caterpillar transforms into a beautiful butterfly. Going from one state to the other requires effort. It’s a process. You need to let go of the old, to make way for the new. That’s pretty tough.

Looking at my own life I can pinpoint where transformation happened. Those where tough times, and eventually rewarding times. The things that set off the transformation where never clear directions. There were no instructions. It where personal experiences and personal insights. Sometimes tiny things, seemingly meaningless. But within a bigger picture, exactly what I needed to have the courage to take the required step. A step that only in hindsight was a step. Because it is not the action, but the mindset that really leads the way in transformation. Mindset first (change how you think) and then the actions will follow.

Instead of nurturing change abilities, shouldn’t we stimulate courage? Make way for courage by minimizing fear.

In the end fear is our greatest enemy. Fear that keeps us in the mode of change; fear that holds us back from enduring the toughness; fear that stands in the way of reaching a new reality.

Should we rather be cowards than heroes?

I know the answer and so do you. We can all be heroes.