Lead Change: Start With Yourself
Changing anything – a habit, a policy, or even culture, is hard work. That’s why you should start with yourself first.
Each time you face an obstacle, you become more resilient. Each time you achieve a goal, you gain confidence. You need resilience and confidence to be an agent of change, and the more practice you get, the better!
I’m going to do something really vulnerable here. I’m going to share a page of my history with you.
I found this innocuous piece of paper yesterday, tucked inside a book.
It’s my list of “Big Goals.” Sometime around 2012, I sat down for a few minutes and dreamed as wildly as I could. Some of these things seemed preposterous but I wrote them down anyway.
A little bit of backstory: I was in a class on customer service where the professor went off on a tangent. He told us a story about a college football coach who’d just moved across the country to join a new team, only to be let go when the head coach was fired. He felt sorry for himself for weeks, then finally decided to make a list of “Big Goals” he hoped to achieve in his lifetime. Decades later, he had completed almost every single one, including things like “meet a sitting president” and “learn to fly a plane.”
The professor explained that we’d make even more progress if, for each goal, we added the next one or two steps to get closer to achieving it. Just bite-sized, doable bits that we could throw some energy against each day. That story inspired me to write my own list, and it’s a favorite activity for me to share with others.
Looking at this now, I marvel at how many things are checked off the list.
Hindsight is 20/20. You can say “sure – of course you’d be able to do that!” But I assure you, at the time, they ALL seemed near impossible.
For example – I had to re-learn math on Khan Academy because I’d pretty much forgotten everything but the basics. I had to take three math classes just to prove to the Stanford GSB that I’d be able to slog my way through the quant in the MBA program. I was the last person admitted to my class. But you know what? I still got my degree. Check.
There are some studies that suggest writing down your goals helps you accomplish them. Maybe the magic happens when the ink hits paper, but I like to think it’s when your heart and your head agree that something bigger is in store for you…and then you move boldly in that direction.
The same is true with culture change. It will force you to learn new things and make uncomfortable choices. You’ll feel the pain of setbacks and doubt your ability from time to time. But if you can visualize your end goals, remember why you’re doing it, and keep going, you will not only make an impact – you will be a catalyst for others, too!