Change is for other people

I’ve been using change is for other people as a mantra for a while, to remind myself that I often find it easier to encourage others to change than to change myself.

I’ve wanted to write about it, but wasn’t sure what, so it has stayed into the drawer, until today. I stumbled across How to get smart people to learn by Chris Argyris (of double loop learning fame). It has a great story about a consulting firm and its’ consultants who can complain about clients, but have a hard time running a reflection session for themselves, let alone learn from it. This does not sound familiar.

When I am consulting, it sometimes appears relatively easy to get other people to change their behaviour. One of our clients had a keynote at an industry vertical conference, and he mentioned they hired some people (us) who could motivate people. We tend to believe one can only demotivate people, so this was odd, but great. For instance, we changed our website a few years ago, but I have a hard time to not curse at the lack of comments. I finally got over it, and started writing publicly again.

At times, it is obvious to me, just needs reminding. When I began coaching / mentoring teams profesionally in 2001, my then business partner Erik Groeneveld and I hired a coach, Carine Koehoorn. We realized we had a lot to learn, as we were learning a different way of working, facing challenges ourselves. I changed (and I believe improved) my behaviour significantly, with significant difficulty, as a result of being coached. I also learnt what it felt like to be coached, and try to be mindful of it when coaching and mentoring others (which is not often these days, I tend to be more hands-on involved for various reaosons).