The Challenge of Creating Change

Tikkun Daily Blog is a fascinating resource for me, in terms of political thinking, spiritual work in the world, and leadership process. Miki Kashtanʻs post, the first of three, is interesting in the way it talks about the resources we need to create change in the world.

“In the last few days I’ve been almost haunted by realizing how often we want others’ behavior to change. We may want to see change in some small, annoying behavior that our child does, or a major harm created by the CEO of a transnational corporation. It has recently dawned on me that no matter the person or the behavior, creating change in another’s behavior is, in essence, a monumental task. And then again – why am I so surprised, when I know how difficult it is to create change within ourselves when we actively want to create such change? When, on top of how difficult creating any change is, we add the extra challenge that the other person may not want to create the change that we seek, it’s no wonder that we so often don’t manage to create the outcome we want outside ourselves.

I now believe that we can create change outside ourselves only if one of three conditions is in place. One is that we have enough resources at our disposal to stop the behavior that want to see changed, or to deliver such unpleasant consequences to the person doing it that they would choose to change. Another possibility is that the person recognizes a need of their own that motivates them to create the change we seek. And the last path is that through dialogue the person chooses to create the change because of care for our needs, or because of trust in our intentions for their well being. As someone who is committed to being a change agent, it’s quite humbling to recognize this. Humbling in particular because in my appetite for supporting change I am prone to attempting to stretch people into creating change beyond their own capacity to integrate it. If I truly take in what I am discovering, I may choose to change how I work for change, and, most certainly, my approach to working with others to support change in happening. I am early enough in my explorations about this that I don’t quite know yet how my work will be affected. For the moment, I am drawn to embarking on the exploration of what these conditions mean in three realms: personal relationships, organizational change, and social structural change. Given the bigness of this topic, I plan to focus, today, only on personal relationships, and come back next week to look beyond the personal.”  She goes on to speak about family relatioships with some excellent examples. Read more…

Iʻm interested to read the way she applies this idea to the personal and professional in many contexts, and I love her rubric. For success at creating change, we need: resources to control or influence the situation, a self-motivated change-collaborator who sees the benefit for themselves, and/or an 0ther-motivated change-collaborator who wants to benefit us. Probably, we need all three to create sustainable change!

A professional mediator, she invites us to extend these three tools and circumstance to negotiation, to innovation and to leadership influence. No jargon, no bells and whistles, just good common sense — and the means to create good relationships! Because leadership is itself about relationships, itʻs worth paying attention to ways of repairing and transforming the ways we relate to each other, whether weʻre leaders, followers or (as is usually the case), both.

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