How many seminar binders do you have on your shelf? How many training notes do you have in your computer? How much of what you have read, seen, or heard are you actually implementing? If you are like most of the world, even the professional world, it is a small percentage.
This week I read an article from the Harvard Business Review that said even after all the years of research on learning styles and helping people implement training, only about 20-30% of the material turns into changed behavior. Most organizations, despite paying out big bucks and making training a high priority, are seeing little results.
Several years ago cardiologist Alan Deutschman wrote that even when his patients were told, “change your lifestyle or die”, 90% still did not make the needed changes. Before you say, “how could they respond that way”; look at your life. I guarantee you there are things you know you need to change, important things, but have not done yet. In some cases, you have known it for years, but the same old same old continues.
Some areas of our lives change pretty easily, naturally, and with little conscious effort. That’s the grace of God and the easy part of change. But some areas, some really important ones, take not only focused effort but the right techniques. There are several simple steps that can be easily understood and, with very doable effort, practiced that have a great track record in producing positive growth and development. I will give you two that you can start today.
1. State it. When you clear out the fog, trim down all the things you could or should be doing, and say, “Right now I am going to work on this and these are the steps I will take” you have done something at least 80% of our population never does. Brian Tracy said, “Clarity is probably the most important part of productivity.”
I know first-hand, from my own life and in working with people, that it is very easy to make vague, non-specific goals. “I want to be a better person” or “I’m going to be more patient” or “I want to plan better.”
99% of the time those types of statements never become reality.
The old SMART method has stuck around a long time for a reason. It forces clarity and clarity leads to greater productivity. Write down something like “I am going to become more patient by reminding myself each morning and each evening to calmly listen. I will do that 5 days per week, morning and evening for 1 month and then re-evaluate.” You will evaluate as you go, but that gives you something clear and specific you can implement for a limited amount of time.
2. Support it. Legendary executive coach and author Marshall Goldsmith says that after a person’s individual commitment, nothing is important in producing change as the people around them. There are few things in life, including change that we can do well all by ourselves. Even the strongest of us need the support of others to make progress. Build into your life whatever support you need: peer group, mentor, coach, family, and master-mind groups can all be very helpful.
If you want to turn what you’ve heard into positive action, start with those two steps.
I’ve just given you two helps. What else have you found that works? I’d love to hear!