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Can you actually change?

Is change an illusion? False hopes fuelled by articles like this 😊? By training agencies looking to keep the lights on or by high-paid management gurus?

Is it actually worth questioning yourself and your view on the case? Doesn't it just make you more insecure? Isn't it better to 'accept yourself as you are', learn to be content with yourself and learn to better see 'how good you have it'?

I just started working and stayed with my aunt for a while as I did not yet have a place to live. I didn't feel good at all in that first job: a six-month project, which fortunately wasn't extended. When I told this to my aunt, she invariably responded with: "Be content with what you have for once!". It mostly made me feel that it was all because of my 'dissatisfied nature' and that I needed to work on that…

The value of personal coaching?

During personal coaching sessions with me, managers often formulate intentions to try something new: be more visionary, speak up more in meetings, give open and honest feedback, do less themselves, delegate more and rely on their team. They practice different behaviour, examine the effect on the other person, look at what risks they see and, above all, what they actually desire.

When they then put their resolutions into practice, often to their surprise, they are almost always successful. Their self-confidence is rising and I see them following the new approach more and more. Apparently, then, change is possible?

You already know, dear reader, that I could not do my job if I did not believe in change, growth and development. At the same time, I also notice in myself, how much my upbringing and my life so far has given me certain things, pleasant things but also scars. Wisdom and life experience, but also less useful patterns that I still see myself repeating from time to time…

The wrong focus

For many managers, change stands for improvement, doing things differently, smarter and more effectively. Being taken seriously, handling tricky situations more skilfully, acting strategically smarter, having more control over their team. Very often based on the assumption that their current approach is actually not that good. That their current 'state of being' is not okay: “Because I am insecure, I am unable to make myself more visible”. “Because I communicate so unclearly, I am unable to make an impact in important meetings”.

We stick a label on ourselves: I am insecure, I am clumsy, I do not communicate clearly, I am too pushy, too results oriented, too impatient…

That labelling things is actually a bad habit, and I unfortunately see that in myself too. Habits that we often inherited from our upbringing, no matter how well-meaning our parents were. Habits that reflexively make us, without noticing, quick to judge, especially about ourselves.

And that is precisely where the change to start developing a new habit begins. By stopping labelling things and learning how to see beyond your judgement. By becoming aware of how you label things and exploring what you actually desire, what you are actually looking for. And, what others are really looking for…

From labelling to appreciating what is there

When we look past the labels we place on ourselves and others, we see people who want something but do not always succeed. We see a manager, an employee, looking for something. Sometimes we look for the same thing, sometimes each of us looks for something different. For example, we want to contribute to the efficiency of a project, we want a nice, pleasant workplace. We want to have impact with our unique ideas or we want to be members of a team to enable innovation together.

Connecting communication says “People never do something for no reason, but always to fulfil an important need”. And contributing to the happiness and well-being of others is precisely what makes us most happy and fulfilled. When we can fulfil our needs, when we are able to do what is so important to us, we feel happy, energetic, satisfied and fulfilled.

Words matter

So how we word things is more important than we think. Because it becomes a very different story when I say "I would like to add value in this project but I don't know how best to go about it" than when I say "I am too insecure, so this project will be difficult".

By stopping labelling ourselves, condemning ourselves and instead exploring and seeing what desire lies underneath, what dream, ambition, need actually requires attention, I am walking a new path. I then no longer put myself in the underdog position, I no longer blame myself, I no longer condemn myself as awkward, insecure, impatient, pushy.

And if I can do that better toward myself – because you can practice this – I can do it better toward others as well. Then, even when others show troublesome behaviour or judge themselves or others, I can see what positive intention or need actually lies underneath. That way, I can also help others discover what they are really looking for. An important leadership quality that benefits everyone.

Would you like to grow from labelling (yourself) to appreciating what is there?

Use the button to sign up for a free intake. Looking forward to meeting you!


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