Successful people build each other up, they motivate, inspire and push each other. Unsuccessful people just hate, blame and complain.    Flowers only bloom when they are ready. People are the same way. You cannot rush or force them open, just because you think it's time. Be patient. - Timber Hawkeye    We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. - Albert Einstein    Success is to be measured, not so much by the position that one has reached in life, as by the obstacles that one has overcome while trying to succeed. - Bookert T. Washington    Be solution driven. Treat the disease, not the symptoms by targeting the source of the problem or issue.    In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins... not through strength, but through persistence. - Buddha    Are you interested in changing, or are you committed to change?

Little Jackals of Change

 

Normally, when we decide to initiate a change project, we primarily focus on traumatic events in our lives. Traumatic events – generally speaking – have a significant impact on our decision to change and normally are the “force” and primary source of our motivation to initiate a change project. However, a traumatic event is seldom enough to sustain a productive change project. What really determine a successful change project in the end, is our ability to identify and manage little jackals of change. The Little Jackals of Change, are plenty of little things that we do repetitively, which “accumulate over time” and we don’t even realize that it is subtly sabotaging our efforts to change.

Thus, traumatic events normally compel us to change and little jackals normally subtly sabotage our best change efforts and intentions. Generally speaking, little jackals of change centres around our beliefs, perceptions, views, choice & action justifications, excuses, rationalizations, validations, why & wherefore’s, sanctification, …etc. Which – in the end – are solely determining our change attitude and the sustainability of our change project.

With coaching, guidance and facilitation activities, more emphasis is placed on the little jackals of change, rather than traumatic events. Mainly, because that what has happened, cannot be undone (i.e. you cannot un-experience or un-see something) you can only learn lessons from the it. Therefore, coaching – inclusive of guidance, advice, facilitation – apply the PVC-principle as basis to UNDERSTAND the past, CALIBRATE the present and CHOOSE FOR the future.

Most people find ignoring little jackals quite appealing, because it is quick, easy and it takes very little effort… for a brief moment that is true. Unfortunately though, you are actually (by choice, I might add) voluntary “paining yourself into an emotional corner” and – eventually – there is very little else you can do about it, but to blame others, events or circumstances; regard life as hostile & unfair; relieve your “pain” with addictions and various mind defences. Which gradually (on the long run) completely erode your self-determination.

Sadly, many people prefer to waste a lot of time, effort and energy to maintain their comfort zone of little jackals, when they could – just as easily – apply the same amount of time, effort and energy on DOING SOMETHING more constructively to really address the problem and stop dealing with the symptoms of the problem. The personal cost of “disregarding” the impact of little jackals on the sustainability of any change effort (i.e. project) is quite high in terms of self-determination.

However, what appeals to most people is the fact, that by not dealing with our little jackals of change, you can “safely project” your personal change responsibility “out there” for others to deal with and you can’t fail, you can safely blame others, circumstances or events and others quickly realizes your resistance to adjust to change, so they often stop bugging you.

Little jackal excuses and justification to NOT taking responsibility for change, are as varied as there are people on this planet. The following list of “little jackal excuses” are some of the more popular excuses frequently used by many to avoid responsibility for change and with the implies message appearing in brackets…

  • A person can’t get better until s/he hits the bottom (i.e. only an extreme pain or a crisis could change his/her mind, in the meantime I cannot do anything),
  • I’ve already tried everything (i.e. none of your advice, strategies and solutions will work for me),
  • A leopard can’t change his spots (i.e. people cannot change, regardless…),
  • There isn’t enough time (i.e. things must happen quickly, else I am not interested and also a laziness to put in an effort),
  • The result isn’t worth the effort (i.e. you do the changes, I am happy with my head in the sand. And besides, it isn’t a priority of mine),
  • It’s much too radical (i.e. afraid to take the necessary risks to “experiment with success”, I much rather avoid failure),
  • I am far too busy with more important things and do not have the time (i.e. it is much easier to force my expectations with the power of brutality and fear manipulation to get things done my way. Reasoning, cooperation, sharing and co-creation is a waste of time to get the result that I want),
  • It’s never been done before (i.e. I am really scared of failure),
  •  It is unrealistic (i.e. I will not improve myself, no matter what),
  •  That isn’t really my problem to solve (i.e. I am overwhelmed, confused and haven’t got a clue what to do next),
  •  I can actually do nothing about it (i.e. I am helpless, please take over),

and so on, and so on….

Considering the above, it is quite AMAZING how many people are convinced that coping with change are, either impossible or somebody else’s responsibility. ALSO NOTE….. How often individual’s expect professionals to change their circumstances, but they “refuse” to accept the responsibility for implementing the changes themselves. That is and always will be utter nonsense. We all can benefit from the advice and contribution from  others, BUT as the familiar saying goes… “You can lead a horse to water, BUT you can’t make it THINK!

What are the essential “little jackal“-obstacles you need to overcome when you decide to do something? The most common barriers, obstacles and excuses are…

A reluctance to admit to the necessity of change

I’m still young; There is plenty of time; I’m too old for this; It is too close to my retirement; My colleagues are ineffective too; I am quite busy and cannot spend my time on improving myself; Things actually isn’t that bad at the moment; This is how life is; Bad things happens to good people; Let’s pray together; …etc.

A rebellion against the pressures of change

I hate it when the boss expects me to work overtime; I prefer the old method of doing things; This new technology (computer) is nonsense and allows for plenty of mistakes; I hate it, when management implement new things without consulting us first; In the good old days this will never happen, We do not communicate enough; This are unrealistic expectations; Ever since, the government or technology or human rights was introduced… etc.

A resignation to stay the same

This is a deliberate effort to stay the same, in spite of new expectations, demands or requirements. I can’t do anything about it; I am in no position to deliver a contribution; I’ve tried to deal with the problem a 100 times before; I have attended all possible training opportunities, yet nothing seems to work; One swallow cannot make the summer, …etc.

Rationalizing that undesirable behaviour is really all right

Rationalizing that the undesirable behaviour or actions and/or a resistance to accept responsibility for change, is in actual fact quite all right and acceptable. I know that I have to acquire some computer skills, but the job I am presently doing doesn’t actually require such skills; I cannot continue my work, unless person X handed me the necessary figures/documents/certificates; We should communicate more, but there isn’t enough time; I should have more consideration for others, but I need to follow rules; I am more than willing to help, unfortunately there is nothing I can do. Rather speak to finance about it; We should sit down and work through this problem together, but lets do it when… etc.

The above barriers are some of the main obstacles that you might face and need to address to overcome little jackals. BUT …please… do not underestimate little jackals, because they are awfully powerful and very, very influential. In most cases, “little jackal“-excuses, “kicks in” quite “naturally” and when you are unaware of the powerful influence of such excuses regarding your attitude towards the what and how of change, you could easily end up in a dead-end street (i.e. get derailed or stuck).

So what can you do about the above excuses and to eliminate, or at the very least, limit your justifications for avoiding to take personal responsibility for change?

Firstly…

You must become aware of the way in which you apply “little jackal“-excuses and use different mental tricks to camouflage and avoid your responsibility to deal with change efficiently. Certain types of personalities consistently tend to apply specific defence techniques, for example…

When someone said something demeaning about a person and that individual responds…..

  • by laughing it off or saying “they didn’t really mean it, its no big deal“. That person is probably prone to use denial, or minimization as a defence mechanism.
  • by saying “That person is just mean spirited, besides one can’t please everybody, these things happen” or “there are deep psychological reasons why he or she said what he or she did“, that person is a rationalizer or an intellectualizer.
  • by boiling over, verbally and/or physically attacking the person or assuming they are completely evil, s/he is “externalizing” the causes of the problem.
  • self-critical and felt completely blamable for his/her own opinion, that person is “internalizing” the causes of the problem.

In essence, discover what defence mechanisms you prefer to apply most often, and do something about it. Thus, “force” yourself, with questions, to face upsetting problems and/or situations, avoid explaining away criticism, empathize with others and find destructive ways to vent your anger or frustration.

Secondly…

The most obvious and effective solution to “ignoring little jackals” is to open your mind in many ways, but this may not be easy and would require time spend on reflections. You must find good, solid logical and persuasive reasons for change and empowering yourself. Face reality and truly believe that your desired goals are well worth the cost, the time and effort to implement a change management (self-empowerment and/or psyche management) strategy. This implies that you have to admit to the real problem and not the symptom, to take it very seriously, face the worries and fears involved with the remaining unchanged actions, to maintain a focus on the advantages of improving and a belief that you are capable of making the required self-improvements needed. Thus, you have to get “intimate” with your problem(s) and to learn as much as you can about it to understand it in context.

Thirdly…

Other people are quite a crucial factor in determining whether you would attempt to successfully deal (or cope) with change or not. Some people – mostly referred to as enablers – encourage a person to remain static, because they often minimize the effects of the problem as experienced, don’t confront the person and – instead – help you to neglect or cover up the problem. Mainly, because enablers are afraid of “losing money or status” by straining relationships or rocking the boat. Avoid ENABLERS at all cost.

Facilitators, on the other hand, emphatically assist you to think about your problems and possible solutions before finally implementing change. However, facilitators assistance don’t push people into premature action, only share views, knowledge, experiences and refrain from judgement. Rather seek the assistance of FACILITATORS.

Fourthly…

Creating and establishing an effective change management (self-empowerment and/or psyche management) climate is very important to successfully and efficiently maintain a change project (&not solving a crisis). Motivating yourself to think about the advantages of change, always comes first, but once are implementing a change project, you also need to consider the disadvantages of change. You need to accommodate and consciously compensate for your losses. For example…

  • When studying more, you are losing some valuable time to relax, you need to find some additional time to relax or calm yourself down when tense, perhaps by getting up an hour earlier each morning.
  • When working overtime are taking you away from your friends, you need to acquire new friends or interact with your friends on a different time.
  • When working over a weekend is limiting your time with your family, you should organize to have an especially enjoyable time during the times that the family has together.
  • If becoming more assertive and independent is creating some stress with those around you and result in loneliness, you may need to “work it out” with the individuals concerned or become more involved with individuals who’s company you prefer or enjoy.

Taking care of the negative effects of change in a responsible manner will reduce the inclination to backslide, postpone or to return to the “old“, suddenly “not so bad any more” circumstances or habits.