Evoke Change by Giving People a Vision of the Joy of a New Life

A Scope student and Registered Nurse Carolyn Howard recently sent me an article on an interesting discussion she heard on Radio National on how to best motivate people to make positive change in their lives.

"We are more strongly wired to seek pleasure than to avoid pain. Telling somebody 'if you don't change you will die of a heart attack or you will live a miserable life or you will die early' won't sustain change. Fear can initiate change but it won't sustain change. So we have to start framing our goal in terms of what you will gain, not what you will lose. I will gain more energy and vitality, I will gain more self-confidence, a body I'm really comfortable with, a life I love”.

See the full report, including the transcript HERE

Carolyn, [an avid researcher with a DISC© high Compliance communication preference] went on to elaborate that this philosophy was actually demonstrated at the 2005 Global Medical Forum. Dr Edward Miller, a cardiologist presented the findings of 600,000 people who had had severe heart disease. They were told; change or die. If you don't change your eating, if you don't change your exercise habits, if you don't reduce your stress, you won't survive for 12 months. Everybody changed for three weeks but the data collated over 12 months attested that they did not maintain it. Researchers found that only 10% of the people told to 'change or die', changed. Their response was: It's too hard. It's not worth the effort because we'd rather feel better now than later, and we'd rather feel better than live longer. Conclusion: Dopamines are attractive and addictive!

Carolyn went on to outline the comparative research of Dean Ornish, a scientist from the University of California in San Francisco. He decided to take a different approach to initiate sustained change. His angle was that if you change, everything in your life will improve. He asked people to explore what was not going as well as they would like it to; then search for ways to improve on the challenges. He identified people’s pain and assisted them with ways to minimise it. Helping people to positively focus on creating better relationships, having more energy, getting that promotion, working more effectively, having better sex, whatever it was they wanted. What percentage of his patients changed? 77%. He called it ‘giving people a vision of the joy of a new life’.

This dialogue with Carolyn led me to reflect on the One Minute Manager principle [concept Ken Blanchard]: ‘People who feel good about themselves produce good results’. It never ceases to amaze me the number of managers who still take the ‘big stick approach’ to motivating and managing their team. The evidence is clear; leaders in the 21st century inspire and evoke organisational change through role modelling strong positive leadership behaviours, demonstrating self-awareness, encouraging transparency, practicing good corporate citizenship, not managing their people negatively on a short choker chain.

So if you need to sustain change in your team; activate the dopamines. Let people know what they are doing well and brainstorm with them on how to proactively overcome any challenges or barriers they are experiencing. What would their life or job look like if the pain they are experiencing was minimised?

Focus your team on the positives and lead strong.

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