To change, change the people! Or not ?
This isn’t exactly on how to create flow in an organization, more about why it can be so hard. Agile and Kanban aren’t that difficult to learn – they are pretty well mapped out and easy to adopt yet the promised effects of applying them often don’t really materialize simple because change needs people and people don’t change easily. Not because people don’t like change but because we don’t know how to change! To change you need to stop doing what you have always done … only you mostly can’t stop doing what you have always done because your actions are based on your thinking and the way you think becomes so hard wired into your brain, so familiar and so ‘you’, that people don’t even consider it to be an option that can be changed! To change the people, change the people because people can’t change!
I have started to believe that this dependance on how you think and how that creates choices and actions is why new processes and tools don’t work! Because people use them the same way thry used the last lot of processes! No-one’s thinking changed! Which is why my role as a coach exists – to create a space where it is easier for people to learn and in so doing, find a new way of thinking about things and so make new choices and generate new outcomes !
But back to my diving story, the one I seldom tell, the one about how it isn’t easy to do something new. (in case you didn’t know, I hold the Guinness World Record for the deepest dive by a woman which is also a cave diving record and altitude record). How do you break a world record and do doe,thing that has never been done before ? Well aside from the fact that there is no path to follow (even though 4 guys had dived deeper there weren’t enough dives deeper to create s specific system and because they all had different strengths to me I wasn’t able to use much of what they did), I wasn’t a natural explorer! I didn’t have the confidence to do things outside my comfort zone and so do things everyone else declared to be impossible (and not only impossible in general but impossible for me to do, another woman perhaps, but not me). I didn’t have the courage to go against the herd, to trust myself and to break the rules! I didn’t have the courage to do something that was deemed to be a ‘boy thing’, I was a girl and knew it! I did however know I could dive and dive as well as my male counterparts on Nuno Gomes’s world record deep diving team! (Nuno is the 2 time holder of the deepest dive and current holder of the deepest cave dive and also the person who taught me deep cave diving) I knew that I wanted this dive and I knew that the height of insanity was doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result!
So I tried to do things differently. I let go of my plan to win Nuno onto my side (even though he was the one who suggested that I try for the record in the first place) – after all doing the same thing over and over would get the same results and after 2 years of trying I was exhausted, not to mention disllusioned and fed up! So I decided to try some thing else, or rather, someone else. The woman’s world record had shifted from an easy 121 to a more daunting 167 which meant my next dive would need to be 186m and if Nuno wouldn’t dive with me to 186, who else could ?
When I write it down I can see how I hadn’t actually changed my thinking, just the details and execution of it. I swiped out Nuno for someone else, I was still dependent on someone else, still executing the same plan now with different specifics. At the time it felt like a radical change. It took another 2 years for me to discover that I was still living inside the definition of insanity. I hadn’t changed the beliefs that shaped my thinking – how could I ? I couldn’t even see them!
Fast forward through a lot of drama and unsuccessful misery and I was back to square one, because even though there were a handful of divers who had the skills to dive sub 100m in a cave, there were none who wanted to risk those depths. These days I would do some self coaching and maybe add a trusted external coach into the mix to bring the thinking and beliefs that are creating the box I am living in out into the open. Back then coaching barely existed (2000) and kindle hadn’t made the few books that spoke about thus concept of limiting beliefs accessible! I had tried everything and it was now time to give up, only I found I couldn’t. To go forward I did it the tough way! I ignored my thinking! Trust me, this is just short of impossible to do and I have only managed do this once and only because I wanted the dive more than I wanted to live a long life knowing I had given up and not dived!
Funnily enough I had always known there was another option but it was the one that petrified me because it violated everything I knew to be true! It petrified me so much I hadn’t had the courage to even consider it in the safety and privacy of my own head! Now it was the only thing left – I was going to have to dive on my own! I would have to go solo and break all the rules that Nuno (and the other 3 guys who had been deeper) had created! I was going to have to stop hiding behind someone else and be in my own! So I stepped into my fear and for a year lived and breathed it, forcing myself to do things that were parlaysingly, petrifyingly unfamiliar. I forced myself to dive on my own to 146m and break every rule! I forced myself to step out of safety into a space where everyone (and I mean everyone including close friends who were suddenly ‘busy’) was a judge! I was ridiculed and laughed at until I succeeded and then it all shifted! Suddenly I had a team of divers and support and not one, but two chances at the world record. I stepped into my fear and found my courage!
For a year I stopped living as myself and lived as someone else – someone who knew how to do unfamiliar, new things. I forced myself to not belief my normal thinking and make different choices and it worked! I stepped outside the box!
Thanks to Kindle and a multitude of authors who have brought neuroscience into everday I now know that the brain is literally a box! Your brain is wired to produce the same kind of thinking you always have used. Everytime you think, you create neural connections. We think without thinking about it, so we have a lifetime – decades and decades – of creating and reinforcing neural networks and connections. We create a box that becomes impossible to escape. We create a lifetime of the same experiences becuzse we keep on making the same choices because we use the same neural pathways we have always used. To us it feels like we are doing things differently but until we change those underlying beliefs, we aren’t.
To change people, change the people! To change a team, replace the people making the decisions because then you get a different box and the chance for different choices based on different beliefs and so the chance for different outcomes….or…. you create a space where people can uncover theit beliefs for themselves and a space where they have new options to choose, try and hopefully adopt!
Change isn’t about fixing anything or forcing anything, it is about exposing new possibilities and creating a path from where people are to there! It’s about seeing the people, exciting and inspiring the, and then and only then introducing new tools and skills and then it is about stepping back and following their journey as a guide!