Transformation: 4 Questions to Test Your Readiness
Messages about change are everywhere. Change is needed. Change is hard.
Deep change, real transformation is intimidating. You think you need to change, but you’re not sure how deep the change needs to go. Meanwhile, disappointment creeps in. Surface adjustments in your life provide diminishing returns. Why?
If you are asking the question, you’re already considering the implications. Transformation sounds so radical. Is it possible to deal with stuff that lurks beneath the surface of your daily routines? Sure it is. But, it involves more than a course correction or a surface makeover. There is path to follow and the first few steps are well worn. If you have ever had surgery on your physical body, you know the importance of a pre-op exam. The following four questions are a leadership transformation pre-op exam:
Question 1 – Are you ready to change your thinking?
Unhealthy patterns of thinking yield unhealthy leadership practices. If you are unwilling to examine the way you think, then you are not ready for transformation. For better or worse, the way you think will affect how you live and lead. Do you possess mental models that limit your capacity for positive change? Is your mindset helping or hindering your development? Are you focused on learning or stuck on survival? If you want transformation, stop reaching for low hanging fruit and accept a bigger challenge. Identify toxic patterns of thinking that need to go.
Warning: Busyness may be the biggest obstacle that prevents you from answering the first question. If you’re too busy to examine your thinking, you are forfeiting one of the most powerful catalysts for meaningful change. It’s the first step. Prepare to move away from patterns of thinking that sabotage your effectiveness. Do you get bogged down in a mindset that exhausts your energy? Do you have a case of mental heartburn – a burning tension because your thinking does not align with deeper truths? If you aren’t ready to examine your assumptions and back off of defensive tendencies, you’re not ready for transformation. Prepare to change your thinking.
Question 2 – Are you ready to stop viewing the world through the eyes of a victim?
Victim is such a strong word. It may provoke a sudden negative response. But, it has become a very convenient, albeit ineffective, way to live and lead. It’s easier to blame someone or something than take full responsibility. It’s less stressful to critique the surrounding culture than to pause and look in the mirror. Simply put, victims tend to blame first and examine later. Internal problems have external causes. It can spread from individuals to teams to the corporate level. It’s a slippery slope and leaders, even really good leaders, are not immune.
Leadership Transformation reverses the trend. Victims live in a closed system. Honest personal feedback is limited and perspective is tightly controlled. If you only focus on the problems outside of yourself, your vision of reality will become distorted. When you embrace responsibility you will begin to see with greater clarity. Transformation illuminates from the inside out. When you change your thinking, embrace change that begins within, you will see yourself and your world in a different light.
Question 3 – Are you ready to discover a new course of action?
Real transformation begins inside, but it cannot remain a mental exercise. Breaking free from inertia requires a sense of urgency that leads to action. Transformation combines your deep desire for change with the will to move forward. When your “thinking” becomes “doing” you create momentum and hope. When you discover the will to practice new choices, you are ready.
Transformation requires some movement. The pain of the present is recognizable in many forms. Sometimes it’s acute and sometimes it’s chronic. It may manifest in a stubborn mental or emotional fatigue. Whenever the signs reach a critical mass, you need to determine the best course of action. If you’re not ready for movement, you’re not ready for transformation.
Question 4 – Are you ready to live for something bigger than yourself?
Until now, most of your pre-op exam has been about you. It begins with you, but it cannot end with you. Pre-Transformation thinking can be weighted toward an unhealthy selfish focus. Post-Transformation shifts ambition away from personal gain toward a life that benefits others. Self-gratification is sacrificed for a much broader vision.
Deep fulfillment awaits those who have the courage to break free from egocentric leadership and create a legacy of service. Leadership that is self-centered is destined to become stale. There is no healthy outlet. Transformation leads to serving, loving and sharing.
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