Conscious Change

Inspiring change that comes from heart, soul, vision and purpose
and makes a lasting difference...

(For an updated description, click here.)
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There’s a huge desire for “change” in our world – in our lives, work, organizations, environment and society. But are the approaches we’re using really creating the lasting change we want, or reinforcing 'the problems' at a deeper level?

My deep passion is creating change at its roots. Not just changing the surface or symptoms of problems, but addressing them at their causes - so we can create long term, sustainable progress. (One example of this is reducing and recycling garbage instead of burning, burying or creating it.) This focus on 'root causes' has led to a fundamental shift in how I work: from focusing on "behaviour" change, to what I now call "conscious" change.

For me, behaviour is a symptom or expression of how we think/feel. Simply changing what we do doesn't change why we do it. Therefore, if we feel 'unsustainable' inside, even if we change what we're doing (such as stopping a bad habit), we will continue to express it through other behaviours.

To create lasting change, I believe we need new approaches - that actually help us shift our thoughts/feelings (or consciousness). For example, instead of using fear, pressure or guilt to "get" people to change, helping them discover what's important to them, and to change because they want to. Such "change from the inside out" leads to internally-motivated actions that are more sustainable. It empowers people, rather than controlling them. It begins to shift the underlying thinking that's been driving our unsustainable behaviours. And it also changes the ways WE have been using to create change.

What is "Conscious" Change?

It's about becoming more aware (or conscious) of:

- the impacts of our actions on others
- the effectiveness of our actions in creating the results we want
- what's driving us to do what we do
- what's driving or motivating others' behaviour
- understanding the thoughts/feelings that underlie behaviour.

When we understand ourselves and others better, we become more effective to create the growth or change we want to see in our lives and our world.

Why Use It?

When we talk about "change," most of the time it’s about changing others. Getting people to waste less, care more, change their habits, act differently, buy differently, etc. But the fact is, most people don't want to be changed! So what happens?

When we try to change someone else, what are some of the common responses?
1) resistance, defensiveness or anger
2) unwillingness to hear, see or consider
3) grudging acceptance, partial movement, or sometimes active opposition (and attacks on the one behind the change).

To overcome these reactions, "change strategies" frequently use power/force, peer pressure, enticement or subtle forms of manipulation to accomplish their goals. And even though these may help us reach our goals, in the long term they're often counter-productive – because people don't want them. They haven't bought in. Their hearts and minds haven't been part of the change.

Even if we succeed at changing their behaviour – so they are now doing "what we want" – their underlying thoughts and feelings will likely stay the same, or become more deeply engrained. And eventually they revert to old behaviours, or do something else to express their true thoughts/feelings.

Think About It...
When was the last time you felt someone tried to impose "their" change on you? It could have been a bank, a postal office, a grocery store, a political party or leader, an environmental or social action group, or a manager at work. Or maybe it was someone who tried to motivate you to do what they wanted, but it didn't feel like it was really in your interest.

On the other hand, when was the last time you did this to someone else? Because that's the real point: We ALL do this at times. We do what's in our interests, and try to get others to go along, but often without considering their interests, needs and motivation.

So how could we "do change" differently? 

Change from the Inside Out

Suppose that the best change is that which is motivated from within. Change that raises the spirit, grows love and respect, inspires people, improves connection and community, increases willingness to be open, honest and courageous, and that seeks shared interest.

Suppose it was change that people really want, or that comes from their free choice and in their best interests. Change that will interest, excite and motivate them -- or might even touch their hearts and minds, deepest values and better selves? But how do we know what that is, and how do we do it? 

Rather than lighting a bonfire to ‘force’ or 'motivate' others to change, I believe the fire we need to light is first within ourselves. To find what values live in us. What moves us to change, make a difference and act in a higher interest. We also need to look at the fears that block us, the reasons we don't want to change, and what issues make us a 'part of the problem’ too.

Then we need to ask -- and listen -- to what other people want. How they think and feel. What matters to and moves them. What they need and care most about. And how they would most want to change, if they were asked or supported to do so.

We then need one more level of asking & listening: to what's in our collective interest. What is it that we all need, financially, socially and environmentally? And what would benefit, enrich, inspire and give all of us some soul-nourishment, so to speak.

It’s a shift from external motivation to internal motivation. From changing others to changing ourselves. From imposing our way on others, to finding what works for others... so we engage each other in our hearts and minds, instead of just 'manipulating' their behaviours.

How do we apply it in our work?

Read more here