Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cycle of Transformation and Why We Get Stuck Pt 2

1. Incompetent unaware
2. Incompetent aware
3. Competent aware
4. Competent unaware

In my last blog I discussed how we can get out of stage one and into stage two. Change is uncomfortable and being in stage two is far less comfortable than being in stage one. Sometimes we are tempted to go back to stage one and it takes courage to stay in stage two and move to stage three.

So how do we move from stage two (where we are aware of our faults) to stage three (where we are actually improving )?

I would like to suggest it begins with a 'vision'. I know that word is overused and trendy, but in this case it is also true. We need to get a picture of where it is we want to go. What is our desired destination? What will it look like for me to gain competence in this area? It takes work to clearly define this. I suggest actually writing it down and sharing it with a few people for their feedback. In the area that I am trying to change, what will it look like when that change is complete? If you are really gung-ho about this you can even set short-term goals along the way there. Naming a few checkpoints along the way is a good way of mapping out where you want to go. It also makes the long journey more bearable to be able to celebrate mile markers along the way.

Once we have clearly defined our destination we can start to map out how we are going to get there. This involves naming strategies, specific actions and activities that will help get us where we are trying to go. It is important in this phase not to avoid hard work. Name what it will really take to get there. Again, writing it down, sharing it, getting feedback, and asking others what they think we should add to the list are all good things to do.

Now we finally get to action. If change is going to take place we must not only plan and theorize about the change needed, we must take specific actions and steps forward in that change. These actions are NEW behaviours and activities that we engage in. At first, a new action or behaviour takes lots of conscious effort. It takes discipline. It takes embracing current sacrifices for future rewards. Transformation in this phase takes an almost all-consuming effort on the part of the person or organization. It is tiring, difficult and overwhelming. Like trying to write a story with the wrong hand.

Keep the conscious effort of new actions and behaviours long enough and what happens? Subtly, the effort needed decreases. We hardly even notice, but it gets easier and easier. The muscles that once grew tired now find it effortless.  We move gradually, and even unconsciously into 'mastery'. That is, we are changed. We do the new behaviours and activities without a second thought. It is automatic. Stage four has arrived and we didn't even notice. How did we get here? Perseverance in stage three.

Ha! The joy of transformation. (That's stage five)

And stage six? That's re-engaging the process from the beginning. Continual renewal. This is maybe the most important insight of all. Transformation is quite possibly more important than being transformed. The transformational life. It takes a transforming person to influence transformation in another. It is the only way to sustainably stay away from stagnation. It's the only way to really stay alive all our life long. As Paul says, "from glory to glory."