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THE “ABCs” OF CHANGE

It’s 5 p.m. on Friday. You take one last glance at your inbox before the weekend begins. With that look, everything changes in a heartbeat. You discover a message that has just arrived from the chair of the board. It reads, “We need to see you first thing Monday morning.”

 There goes the weekend!

Look at the situation considering the “ABC Method” introduced in the previous blog.

The chair’s terse message is an Activator. In less than a literal second, words and pictures flood into your conscious mind. None of them are likely to be happy thoughts.

You can see and feel the Consequences that might be in store for you. Your world has been stripped of joy and positive feelings. 

You will probably be locked in an emotional prison—everything from anger to dread—of your own making. It will be that way until Monday morning at 9:00.

But it need not be the case. Amazingly, some might find the same message in the inbox; yet, still enjoy the weekend. As incredible as it might seem, some people would even be happy to get the Friday afternoon message from the chair.

How is that possible?

Between the Activator and Consequences, our Beliefs play the leading role. When we filter the activator through our beliefs, it is our beliefs that drive the consequences. Like a movie script, beliefs dictate how we feel and act.

In most cases, we can trace our beliefs that produce the emotional and behavioral consequences to either of two root causes. Either we believe they violate our rights, or we feel threatened. We seldom identify the root cause, but it is there.

What are some debilitating beliefs and the consequences associated with them? Like the activating events we learned in the previous blog, the beliefs and consequences are limitless in possibilities. 

The following is a very brief list with several activators from the previous blog, a related belief, and the consequences that often come from them:

Activator: Loss of job / Belief: “My world is collapsing. I will never work again.” (Root: Threat) / Consequence: Hopelessness, desperation, despair

Activator: Start a new career / Belief: “I don’t think I am ready for this. I know I’m going to fail.” (Root: Threat) / Consequence: Anxiety, insecurity, worry

Activator: Too many demands / Belief: “There is no way I can keep up with this, and the board is checking on my work.” (Root: Right Violated) / Consequence: Frustration, resentment, panic

Activator: A conflict-averse boss / Belief: “He will never stand up for the team or me.” (Root: Right Violated) / Consequence: Disappointment, frustration, regret

Activator: Minor car accident / Belief: “That is an idiot driving the car in front of me.” (Root: Right Violated) / Consequence: Anger, bitterness, anxiety

The dynamics unfold in the blink of an eye. But why do we call this a change model? Because when we look at the situation with this ABC model in mind, we are in a powerful position to change.

We may not have the power to change the triggering activator, but we can change our beliefs. When we do, we alter the consequence for ourselves.

Consider the possibilities that a change in belief might make for the above examples:

Activator: Loss of job / Belief: “It’s time for me to take action. It will be a challenge, but I am up for it, and I will find a way to be successful.” / Consequence: Hope, determination, optimism

Activator: Start a new career / Belief: “I didn’t realize how much I have to learn. This is a great opportunity for me to grow and stretch my skills.” / Consequence: Excitement, resilience, optimism

Activator: Too many demands / Belief: “I need to ask my board for help in setting my priorities. I am going to begin delegating like I tell my VPs to do.” / Consequence: Hope, direction, confidence

Activator: A conflict-averse boss / Belief: “I will stand up for myself, and I will encourage the team to do that same. This is a learning opportunity.” / Consequence: Courage, initiative, drive

Activator: Minor car accident / Belief: “I can deal with this. I am in control of my response. It is better to stay calm so that I can get on with my life.” / Consequence: Self-awareness, self-control, resolve

The replacement beliefs are possible. I have drawn them from a composite of experiences I have helped clients work through in their professional and personal lives. The only caveat is that your beliefs must be believable, i.e., they must be true.

The place to start using the “ABC Method” is to recognize the “A,” what is activating you. When you start to catch what activates your feelings and behaviors, you will be surprised by how easy it is to see your beliefs. You can then challenge and change them, and with a change in beliefs, your entire world will change.

Why? Because when you change your beliefs, you change your perspective on the world.  The world may stay the say, but you change for the better.

Be safe and courageous,

Chuck

(from Between the Two Horizons)

(To receive this weekly blog in your inbox, send a request to rosie@chuckward.com.)

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