Getting Out of Our Own Way

people riding bicycles on road during daytime

When you step back and look at your attempts to succeed, does it seem that you are working extremely hard at it? For most folks, we want to improve every day, at least by some measure. Now, it is not a mistake to put your energy into something, and it isn’t that you should not try at all. However, there comes a point at which we can try too hard, and when that happens, we tend to get in our own way.

Why do you suppose that is? Consider this: All of us have a self-concept or self-image – our idea of who we are. As it happens, we don’t have to think about behaving like the person we know ourselves to be. It is something we do easily and effortlessly. We have a set-point about who we believe we are, and our mind takes care of maintaining the set-point.

For example, if you see yourself as an outgoing person, you don’t need to work at being outgoing, right? It just happens naturally. And, if you see yourself as shy, you don’t have to be reminded to be shy when you are in a group. You know how to act shy, and it’s easy for you to do and be.

But what happens when you try to behave in a way that contradicts your self-image? “That’s not like me,” you think, even if it is a positive change. You go back to behaving like the “real” you as soon as possible. It’s easy and it’s comfortable. It’s predictable. And this happens with individuals, as well as groups. It is also why organizational change is such a challenge to manage and maintain.

It has been pretty much proven that all meaningful and lasting change starts on the inside and works its way out. It doesn’t start on the outside, not the “meaningful and lasting” kind of change, anyway. So, if you want to be different than the way you are now, first work on changing your self-concept – you, on the inside. Change the inside, and the outside will follow.

You won’t have to “try” to behave differently. Change that internal set-point, and it will happen naturally, all by itself.