Want Change? There are Only Four Ways
While thumbing through, Full Engagement, by Brian Tracy, this heading in chapter one caught my attention, “Four Ways to Change.”
Tracy says, “There are only four ways that you can change anything about yourself, your life, your work, or your relationships with others.”
The condensed version of Tracy’s list:
- Do more of something.
- Do less of something.
- Begin something.
- Stop something.
Stopping is harder than starting. Any fool can start something new; it takes real courage to stop something old.
Failure to stop something creates meaningless clutter, blocks productivity, and weighs down high performance.
If you can’t stop something, do less of it.
Denny Stigl, retired CEO of Verizon Wireless, told me about a position he took that had an office full of people creating monthly reports. He didn’t believe the reports were necessary so he gradually stopped sending them. Long story short, they eventually stopped producing all meaningless reports and freed their staff for income generating activities.
The life and leadership your searching for begins with four questions.
- What do you need to do less of?
- What do you need to do more of?
- What do you need to start?
- What do you need to stop?
- Include behaviors but don’t forget attitudes.
- Focus on high impact behaviors and attitudes, first.
- Ask others what you should do less of, more of, start, or stop. Effectiveness always includes evaluating your interactions and impact on others.
- Evaluate quickly, if the change doesn’t produce results, change it.
- Do one thing at a time. Perhaps today is “smile day.”
- Keep doing what works.
What can you change, today?
What suggestions do you have for change agents?
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Good post, Dan. I agree with your 4 things. The problem is that we aren’t focused and we try to be good at everything. So we end up being mediocre, at best, at a lot of things.
Systems similar to this mindset should help us choose, separate the wheat from the chaff. Choose what you want, as opposed to what someone else wants for you.
Every action is moving us toward or away from our true goals and what we want to create.
Martina, you make a couple of great points, that we try to be good at everything, and that every action either moves us toward the goal or it moves us away. Thanks for the additions.
Thankks for the feedback Greg
I’m sitting here trying to decide if a habit of choosing better thoughts in every situation (no matter where I am, reaching for a slightly more improved perspective from there) qualifies as any of your four. After all, by doing this habit over and over, I am not really doing anything differently, however, choosing a new thought in a particular second is beginning something new, so I guess that is #3.
Still, what I’m talking about is really a habit of thinking that provides for consistent change—as I write this, I guess I would frame it as something that would POWER the other four.
So, now, true to my conceptual, strategic leanings, I would say there is one way to change anything: change one’s thinking. Once we do that, the other four MUST naturally follow, as is appropriate. 🙂
Your meandering comment is both entertaining and enlightening.
Although changing our thinking precedes change, it doesn’t always result in change. Many think of change while persisting in the same ole same ole.
Since thinking doesn’t change anything it only precedes change the four points haven’t changed. 🙂
Oh my, even if I’m wrong, I’m tickled with myself.
LOL, Dan, we agree, you just said it the opposite of how I would.
I’d say nothing changes unless WE do. So even if thought doesn’t ALWAYS make change, thought ALWAYS precedes conscious change. 😉
Thanks for the light-hearted exchange and the email alerting me to your mischief! 🙂
I’m having too much fun… 🙂
Another post that demonstrates how simple things can be once someone else points them out for you. John Maxwell points out that the only way to change your life is to change something you do every day. That’s what your four ways are all about.
One thing that works for me: For one month, log the activity that is desired. Logging imposes some self-accountability, but it also helps you learn about the new or changed activity because you observe it. That’s the idea behind a lot of smartphone apps — people do something (diet, exercise, track fuel efficiency, start to-do lists) because they can plug it into the app. The logging activity itself has been proven to be a minor reward.
Attitude is base and behavior is cover. It means behavior is likely to change depending upon circumstances but attitude is core that is fixed. Attitude is firm belief and values that person proud of. I get new perspective in your post today that stopping is more difficult because it is easy for anyone to start. I absolutely agree to your suggestion. However, I also believe that starting is a courageous act provided you don’t stop in any situations. So, starting is not enough, taking to the final destination is needed.
I can change to see change in me. It means I would attempt to inculcate some positive change in me. And I will try to take it to longer period of time. Not just for the sake of starting something new, but for the sake of learning and bringing change in me.
I would suggest to change agents that change starts from self. It has greater impact when we show change, believe change and practice change. Simply discussing and debating about the change is not effective tool to bring change.
I strongly believe that change is a courageous act and commitment to yourself. If we can bring change within us, we need not to force others for change. It means environment will be automatically magnetized by our change.
Great post! It is something I have thought about but never verbalized. Also convicting because I know what needs to be done but now a matter of doing it.
I really like your post Dan. I believe that stopping a behavior that holds us back is the hardest. Patterns and habits are hard to break but when we want a new outcome, something needs to change. Being open to evaluations and acting upon that will only happen if we truly want change.
Even though change is imperative, it doesn’t mean I can change myself the way I want. Know this, I like your post because it goes beyond behavioral change to attitude and heart change. I like the questions to prompt me to take steps now, moving beyond contemplative to making a plan. Thanks Dan!
I’m a big fan of the what do we need to stop doing question. I find that sometimes the best way to identify those items is to ask people what it is they do for which they never received a specific reason as to why it was necessary. This often identifies reports we don’t need or processes that are time wasting. Sometimes it highlights necessary training improvements because we are asking for things without explaining their need.
Indeed, it’s too bad we can’t read our way to enlightenment. We actually have to get off the cushion! A simple process like Tracy’s or Steven Covey’s ‘what, why and how’ circles get one to that critical place – taking the first step!
Great timing on this post Dan!
In the scenario of doing less of something (a graduation of efforts and choices) in order to come to the conclusion of an actual arrest, I find that a counter balance of increasing more of something else helps in the process. Perhaps I reduce my fast food intake on the fly and increase sack lunch with a friend so there’s a social plus of conversation and friendship to the trade off of perceived convenience. In this case, the counter-balance of one can help support the other.
You can also double up on doing less or doing more to help seed and support a desired direction. If I want to exercise more, I can also increase activity in another area of life that I enjoy to add to the support for change in an area I enjoy less. Or if I want less physical clutter in my office, I can also reduce the amount of “clutter” in my schedule and how I use my time, or reduce the amount of activities I try to tackle in a single week, or even reduce the amount of “clutter” in my diet. As such, the support of one can help feed the support of the other.
Though I agree that it takes real courage to stop something old, I would argue not all things are easy to start. It’s not easy to start being fearless if you haven’t before. It’s not easy to start making time for exercise if you really haven’t before. It’s not easy to start giving speeches if you haven’t before. It’s not easy to start leading if you haven’t before. It’s not even easy to start cooking or keeping house for yourself if you haven’t before. And many people are defeated before they start.
I’d submit that “starting something” only works when courage, passion or conviction in support is there. Much as it is with stopping something. And sometimes the way you stop something is to start something else that makes the old thing obsolete.
Sometimes, we tend to over complicate obstacles that are either in our way or things that may be holding us back.
These four points can make a huge difference with quite a simple formula.
I have been in many workplace situations where things are being done and people are not really sure why, there seems a reluctance to stop even though they use up valuable time on aspects that do not bring any value to the situation or marketplace.
I suppose would there be the question how would you go about starting to stop things that are not useful?
Great post, thank you.
I think I’m dizzy reading all of this. Simplify life. Ironically, somehow, I’ve gotten involved in several blogs and social media networks, of which I enjoy. They all generate something in me, and for me, but I am finding out that being involved in too many of them, even though they touch on different subjects, are beginning to take up way too much of my time. I have to make some changes, for sure, because I have let my OWN blog lie dormant! And, I don’t have to comment on ALL of them, either. I will do less, so I can do more, because less is more…hehehe
It’s important to know what you’re not good at too and either find someone else to do that stuff if you can afford it, or if you have to do something just do it as well as you can but accept you’ll never be the best at it. Channel your energies into the things that you are good at.
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