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Eckhart Tolle said "the most rigid structures, the most impervious to change, will collapse first" - the same is true of people...

Tony Robbins is credited with coining the phrase “if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” May people seem to agree with this saying but it’s simply not true: if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll go backwards because the rest of the world isn’t standing still.  The rest of the world is growing and learning and evolving and if you don’t grow and learn and evolve with it, you’ll get left behind: change or die, as the Roman poet Claudian put it.

Change is an interesting topic. I sometimes ask groups whether they like change and often they’ll answer that they do, without even thinking about it. It’s like they’ve been conditioned to say they like it automatically - it’s only when confronted with a situation (like giving their wives/partners sole ownership of the TV remote control for a week, for instance) that they stop to think about what change really means.  

If I’m feeling pretentious, and I often am, I like to think of myself as being in the change business.  After all, like any trainer, I’m completely pointless without the possibility of change - change in attitude, change in opinion, change of knowledge, change of behaviour. If people are unable to change, then my job is of no value beyond entertainment.  But change has to happen voluntarily: it isn’t possible to force change on people, they have to choose it for themselves. As noted author William Bridges says, “people hate having change done to them.”

That’s not to say that we cannot change the circumstances within which people exist but even this can be painful. The one thing that it’s easy for us to forget, as trainers, is that the people who attend our workshops usually want to change. That, after all, is why they’ve attended.  However, if they change, it means that the people around them are required to change, too.  If a delegate attends a time management course and returns to the office armed with a new way of working, that delegate is also asking their colleagues to change - even if only in the way they relate to him or her.

Change, so the cliche goes, is a constant but change is life; time, after all, is the measure of change.  But change is not a synonym for progress. For every delegate who chooses change, who welcomes and embraces it, there are a number of colleagues who are confronted with a forced change, one that they didn’t ask for and possibly didn’t want. Their resistance to that change is often what makes maintaining new skills and behaviours so difficult for delegates.  Sometimes, it’s easier not to change and to stick with what you’ve always done, even at the risk of going backwards... 

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