“The key to real and lasting change lies somewhere between what you know and what you do. It’s what you think.”
In my previous articles I wrote about two critical components in your journey to achieve personal and/or professional change and growth. These are useful insights but are still not enough to create ‘Lasting Change’.
As we learned with the previous articles the first step is to ask yourself the ‘right questions’ in the ‘right order’ – What, Why, Who, How. A simple and powerful way to remember this is to think about getting a ‘GRIP’ – Goal, Reasons, Identity, Plan of Action. Once we (or our teams) are clear on the plan, it’s valuable to understand the ‘Conscious Competency Model’. This model explains the process of learning and changing, both of which can create challenges if we aren’t fully engaged or committed. These are explained in more detail in my previous articles, feel free to review them if you haven’t had the chance already.
There is a third and final critical component when creating ‘lasting change’.
“Sow an act and you reap a habit, sow a habit and you reap a character, sow a character and you reap a destiny”
That component is the discipline required to ‘act’, to create (and repeat) new behaviours, which then become our habits. Previously it was taught that habits change by consistently repeating behaviour 21 times. That was the proposed ‘magic’ number to create a new habit. In his book “The One Thing”, Gary Keller explains that, researchers at University College, London conducted a study which asked the specific question “How long does it take to form a habit?” The study was looking for the point where new behaviour becomes ‘automatic’. What they discovered might surprise you. They found that the ‘range’ of adoption of new habits by the participants varied somewhere between 18 and 254 times! I was surprised at this myself, until I stopped to think about it. When you consider the different factors involved in adopting change (even change that is driven by ourselves) it becomes more obvious that we are going to face challenges in ‘sustaining’ that change. You may also be intrigued to hear that the results suggested the ‘optimum number’ of days (or repeated action) required to adopt new behaviour, and form a habit, is actually 66. Yes not 21, it’s actually 66! This happens when you have the right combination of motivation, consistency and perseverance, and as you’ll know, that’s not always the case.
“The person who is waiting for something to turn up might start with their shirt sleeves”
If this has left you feeling a little flat, I apologise. But there are two pieces of good news. The first is that once a habit is formed our need for continued discipline, all but falls away. It actually becomes ‘easier’ to continue with the new habit than to return to your old thinking, behaviour and actions. Yes you read that right, it’s easier to continue, you’ve just got to stay the course through the first 66 days/ times!
The second piece of good news also comes from Gary Keller’s ‘The One thing’, where he discovered a study in Australia that shows evidence of a ‘Halo effect’ around the creation of habits. In that research it showed that the participating students who successfully developed ‘positive habits’ benefited from a proliferation of positive ‘side-effects’, including; less stress, improved dietary habits, decreased addictions and the creation of a better living environment. Greater benefits than any of the researchers had expected.
“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together”
Vincent Van Gogh
If you combine the three principles we’ve reviewed in these articles, then you may just find the way to guarantee any future changes you want to make within yourself or through your organisation. I hope it gives you a greater appreciation for the ‘struggle’ that many people encounter when trying to adopt change, it’s not necessarily resistance, but more likely to be low motivation, purpose and/or persistence. Armed with this knowledge it allows you to become a more effective ‘Agent for change’ when you and your people, need it most.
I wish you every success in applying this on your own leadership development journey.
Justin Leigh is an accredited Executive Coach and Leadership Mentor. He works with Senior Leaders to develop High Performance organisations. His passion is helping people to become the best they can be. He has worked for large corporations for over 20 years and is experienced in Leadership, Business, Sales & Marketing.
Justin is the Managing Director of Focus4growth Ltd. He can be reached at the following address:
email: [email protected]
Whether you’re new to sales, an experienced sales professional or a leader looking to improve the consistency and performance of your sales organisation, you’ll gain immense value from these articles, the scorecard and the INSPIRE, INFLUENCE, SELL book. Our systems map out a memorable sales process over several steps and also include mastery content for each stage of the system, which will give you deeper insight and expertise. The combination of foundational and specialist material ensures that no matter where you’re starting from, you can become a skilled salesperson.
You might want to work through these articles at the foundational level and return to the Sales Mastery sections once you get to grips with the overall system and have developed your skills. Each article starts with an experience story in which I share relevant, valuable anecdotes. If you prefer to dive straight into the sales system, you can skip that content. These articles are designed to be accessible and flexible, so that you get the most out of them.
As you work through each stage, I suggest you make notes in a journal or notebook. This will help you learn and adopt the content.