Change in Three Equal Parts

Successful change can be seen as an equation of three parts. It takes intellect, behavior, and emotion, not necessarily in that order, but always the sum of the three in equal parts.  The equation begins when one part leads the way. For instance when a person falls in love, emotions charge out as the leader often over riding the other pieces. It is when clear thinking and behavior catch–up a person is able to participate in the new relationship in a way that is sustainable and successful. Consider another example, the ability to successfully change a personal habit like smoking. A person may want to quit because they possess information about the benefits of not smoking, but it is when the information is coupled with motivation and a plan for a new behavior that eventually permits successful sustainable change to occur.

The same is true in the places and systems where we work and volunteer. Data and information (intellect) can lead a process of change, but without a clear and adaptable plan on how to get there (behavior) and a let’s give it a try attitude of the people involved (emotion) then success will be difficult.

How many of us have been given a top down instruction to change the way we are doing something because the data says it will be more productive, but have not been given a plan or the resources to do it? Or on the other hand we have been given instructions to do something in a new way without the data to support why? In both of these situations people react with emotional negativity loaded with the fear, frustration, and mistrust that notoriously stifle successful change.

When systems change is approached from an understanding of the three parts equation, then it stands a much better chance of being successful and sustainable.   When information is available and a clear plan is developed then emotional resistance comes around much easier. When information and positive attitudes come together then a plan or new process can be developed.

Life is a series of ongoing personal and professional changes. The next time you are faced with change rather then dragging your feet and trying to stop it, use the three parts equation of intellect, behavior, and emotion. Be curious and gather information for understanding, develop an adaptive behavior plan, and face forward with openness and positivity. Remember it does not matter which piece leads the way, but to be sustainable the other two must follow.


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