Morty Lefoe in his article “What Type of Change Do You Want in Your Organization?” refers to three orders of change:
- Change that consists of improving what already is
- Change that consists of creating something totally new
- Change that operates from questions rather than answers
These same orders of change also apply to personal growth and development.
Improving what already is:
There are two aspects to this. The first is building on your strengths. What do you do well that can be applied in new, additional, or innovative ways for creating greater value, contributing more, and having a greater impact? The second way is deepening and sharpening existing skill sets to take you to new levels of proficiency. In essence, enabling you to progress from “good to great,” as Jim Collins discusses in his book by that title. These forms of personal growth usually occur gradually, step by step.
Creating something totally new:
You can create something new within or about yourself and outside of yourself. Consider these questions for each:
Within or about yourself: What behaviors can you change or refocus? What change have you been resisting that you can try? It may sound counterintuitive, but attitude change usually follows behavior change. So by changing your actions you can change your way of thinking and how you perceive matters. You can grow as a person, refresh your life, and deepen your viewpoint by doing something totally new. Stretch yourself.
Outside of yourself: What does not exist in your life that you can create? What new arena of achievement can you pursue? What does not exist in the world or in your area that if it did would make a positive difference? How can you rejuvenate yourself and the people or world around you – whether that’s in your home, workplace, school, community, or society? Begin within your sphere of influence. You are at the center of it so start with yourself and then more outward. As you do, you will expand your sphere of influence. By creating something new, you alter what you are and the world around you. These may be medium, long-term or permanent improvements with a lasting impact.
Operating from questions rather than answers:
This form of change may be linked to the second. It revolves around continually asking yourself transformative questions such as:
- How can I get better? How can I continually grow and improve? How can I have a bigger impact?
- What is confining my thinking? How can I move beyond outmoded paradigms? Why am I stuck and what can propel me forward? How can I make that happen?
- What assumptions am I operating under and how can I challenge or test them? What are my assumptions based on? Are they based on facts, complete or partial information, or opinions of others? How can I widen or deepen my understanding? How can I look at things in a more fresh or more systemic way?
- How can I learn from the success of others? What are new and better ways of achieving goals?
When we continually strive to improve who we are and what we do, challenge ourselves and our assumptions, and seek deeper or more comprehensive knowledge, we grow personally and professionally. The three orders of change can be woven into the fabric of our lives, so we can truly flourish today and over the course of time. All it takes is commitment, a future-oriented perspective, an open mind, and action to propel the process. Now is a great time to start!