“Everyone thinks of changing the world,” said Leo Tolstoy, “but no one thinks of changing himself.”
Indeed, if we as leaders wish to bring about successful change, we need to ensure that we are prepared for change—not just to change others, but also to change ourselves. If we are not responsive to change, if we have little or no experience with changing ourselves, how much of a success are we going to have convincing others to change?
If we are to change, the best way to begin is by looking inward. As leaders, we need better insights into ourselves in order to be effective. As George Bernard Shaw reminded us, “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” But we are talking about a lot more than simply changing our minds. We are talking about mindsets, worldviews, habits, mannerisms and the entire system of behaviors that make up who we are. All of this determines how we project ourselves, our characters and our personalities through what we say and do. As a friend of mine is fond of reminding everyone, others cannot read your mind. They only see what you do and hear what you say. Their entire experience of you are depends on that.
I know, this should be obvious, but apparently it is not.
“Interestingly, many people aren’t aware that the choices they make are extensions of the reality that operates in their hearts and minds.” says Change leader, change thyself, an article in the McKinsy Quarterly. “Indeed, you can live your whole life without understanding the inner dynamics that drive what you do and say. Yet it’s crucial that those who seek to lead powerfully and effectively look at their internal experiences, precisely because they direct how you take action, whether you know it or not. Taking accountability as a leader today includes understanding your motivations and other inner drives.”
The article discusses two dimensions of looking inward: profile awareness and state awareness.
Profile awareness is defined as a combination of “habits of thought, emotions, hopes, and behavior in various circumstances.” It is a recognition of common tendencies and their impact on others.
State awareness is defined as “the recognition of what’s driving you at the moment you take action”. It is used in a much wider sense than a mindset. “State awareness involves the real-time perception of a wide range of inner experiences and their impact on your behavior. These include your current mind-set and beliefs, fears and hopes, desires and defenses, and impulses to take action.”
Give this a read. As they say, the one sure thing you can change about the world is yourself. If you do not bother to look inward and recognize what may help or hinder your creating change in the world, how can you expect to change others?
Besides, if you are seeking to live the 3S way, you have to be willing to look reality in the eye and be ready to face change; especially within yourself.