The Third Vital Source for Lasting Change

Most of us have a change that we'd like to make and guess what?  The people we choose to surround ourselves with will have a massive impact on whether or not that change is realized.

As I've outlined in previous emails the authors of the book Change Everything, demonstrate that change is not only possible, but inevitable when we understand and leverage all of the different sources that make change possible.

I have already written about the first two sources that the authors outlined, Personal Motivation (getting really clear on why I want to make this change, what it will look like when I do, and what my default future will look like if I do nothing) and Personal Ability (what are the critical knowledge and skills that make change possible?)  Leveraging these to sources of change help us "love what we hate" and "do what we can't".

Today I'm going to touch on the third source of change, Social Motivation.  This source helps us get very intentional about our people environment.  If we're serious developing new habits, then we'd better plan on being serious about putting the right people around us.   

Author Malcom Gladwell wrote, "The values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are."

Those whose lives have experienced significant change through Alcoholics Anonymous and Weight Watchers understand the truth and power of this principle well.
So how can we tap into this source of change in our everyday efforts to change and transform our own lives?  Let me just give you one principle to apply in your existing relationships.  Turn accomplices into friends.  There it is, but what does it mean?  It means that you have people in your life who are consciously or unconsciously sabotaging your efforts to change and you must identify these folks and have a transformational conversation with them.  What does that look like?  I would break it down like this.

  • Take some time to reflect on who is in your inner-circle and identify which of your friends (this could and very likely does include family members) through their actions and words are encouraging the changes you want to make and which ones are undermining those efforts.
  • Set aside 15 minutes with each of them to have a sit-down face-to-face meeting.  During the meeting begin by painting a clear picture of the kind of person you want to become and the changes you are serious about making.  It could be that they have no idea.
  • Next, balancing honesty and kindness, explain the things they are doing that are undermining your change efforts and provide them with concrete replacement behaviors (words and/or actions that they enable them to be an active partner in your change efforts).
  • Finally, thank them for their friendship, explain how vital their support is for your success, and invite them to be a fan, not just a friend.

Try that and let me know what happens...