How Do I Change Myself?

In my work delivering leadership programs for several companies, I have noticed a trend that I wanted to ponder with you. In the leadership programs, I do a personality assessment and a 180 to 360 feedback report for the participants. The personality assessment is the Insights Discovery Profile (which can be life changing by-the-way), and the feedback reports are for bosses, peers, and/or direct reports to provide feedback in a structured manner to the program participant.

In the coaching sessions completed by both myself and my team of coaches, we often find that participants are confronted with some constructive feedback for changing their behavior, which then leads them to the question of how to change their behavior to eliminate the negative feedback they were given. I understand that as superachievers, we want to grow and get better continually. We are problem-solvers, and when confronted with what we consider a problem, we jump into problem-solving mode. This is our nature. What I’d like us to do instead is to stop and reflect on when we do get what we consider negative feedback or identify some weakness that we have is to ask ourselves this question: should I change? Rather than jumping straight into how do I improve my perceived weakness, let’s pause for a moment and think about whether or not we should invest our time and energy into doing so.

Here’s an example of how this plays out in my life – when on stage, my preference for being a big-picture thinker and concisely sharing information works out very well. That is the expectation in a keynote speech after all. However, when I am teaching concepts in a workshop, some individuals prefer more detailed explanations, instructions, and structure. At first, I went to what I thought were great lengths to go into detail, provide more explicit instructions, and even more structure. Whatever I did though, there always seemed to be one or two participants who wanted even more. After some frustrating debate with myself, I decided that I was going to capitalize on my strengths and do my best to implement other ways to help those individuals that needed more detail. So knowing that I was choosing not to change my big-picture and concise methods of teaching, I added extra information to participant workbooks that they could read later if they desired to do so, provided a list of resources they could further research, and created slides that provided more detailed instructions on workshop activities.

Please don’t mistake this as a plea to only focus on your strengths and forget about changing your behavior that others deem as negative or as a weakness. This is not all call to excuse our poor behaviors because sometimes we do need to change. Instead, this is a call to deeply reflect on the return-on-investment for changing your behaviors before jumping in to replace them. There are behaviors that all of us engage in that set us back in our efforts and ones that we should work on to further grow ourselves. I’m merely imploring you to look at how that behavior is affecting your life first and then conduct a cost-benefit analysis on if it is truly worth your time and effort to change.