Category Archives: 40 Days Change

40 Days to Change for Good begins

40 Days to Change for Good begins once again November 11th. This annual tradition (started in 2010) is a simple 40-day ritual of daily working-on-something-that-matters. It has been profoundly helpful to many readers.  Pick something you want to change for good or move ahead on something large that you’re having difficulty persisting with. Day 40 begins November 11 (Veterans Day) and Day Zero is December 21 (the Winter Solstice). Learn more in my e-book (free to you) here. And I’ll be writing more in my blog as well.  Curious about what I’m working on this year? I’m focusing on efficiency. Doing work-related tasks – especially things I don’t love doing – quickly and simply. Less polish, more progress. And more time open to enjoy just being and enjoying this precious life. One of the tactics to make your change project real and for you to complete it is to make it public. What do you want to change for good this year? I’ll make it public for you in the next newsletter. And if you want to help your team make a change for good, book either How To Complete a Project or the 40 Days to Change for Good change leadership team development for January and beyond.

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How many paper cups are thrown away every year in the U.S.?

Q: How many paper cups are thrown away every year in the U.S.? A: 60 billion That’s enough to pave a coffee cup highway to the moon and back seven times over. Next… Q: Are they really paper cups? A: Nope. Most ‘paper’ coffee cups are coated with polyethylene, a plastic.  Which means they don’t get recycled and they don’t degrade in a compost bin, on the side of a highway or floating downstream. We are powerful beyond our imagining. Especially when what we do is combined with others. And combined with a daily ritual – like buying coffee.  Our actions often reflect a mindless non-choice and reinforces behavior we wish we could change or that the world would change. But we don’t. And the world doesn’t. We change some repetitive action, someone else changes their action because we’ve normalized something that used to be strange, like using our own fancy ceramic cup or travel mug. And it spreads, like Rilke said ‘in growing orbits’.  PS – Influence Without Authority is now completely revamped and updated with the latest research. Click here to start transforming your team.

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What percent of new car sales is electric?

More than one million Americans have bought or leased an electric vehicle (EV). What percent of new car sales is that? 2% You’d think it was more than that right? We may notice: Charging stations in plumb spots in the shopping center parking lot Charging stations in rest areas on the highway That interesting looking Tesla That new article – for better or worse – about Tesla When we think about cars – whether often or rarely – Evs occupy much more than 2% of our ‘car thoughts’. Or at least they do mine. I notice them. I don’t notice most cars. This ‘thinking about’ process is well into the long, slow process of changing minds and changing habits. Thinking about electric vehicles and seeing them used is priming us to also buy an EV instead of a gas-guzzler. It normalizes the leap. If you want to change a habit or influence someone else to change their mind, get those brains thinking about the change. Action won’t be taken, not for a while. The mind isn’t ready for action yet. But the process is now underway.  Someday gas-powered vehicles will be 2% of vehicle sales.  And then 0%.  And it all started today, with us just thinking about something a little more.  PS – Influence Without Authority is now completely revamped and updated with the latest research. Click here to start transforming your team.

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Leo Tolstoy tells us how change happens

“In spite of the fact that science, art, and politics had no special interest for him, he firmly held those views on all these subjects which were held by the majority and by his paper, and he only changed them when the majority changed them—or, more strictly speaking, he did not change them, but they imperceptibly changed of themselves within him.” –  Leo Tolstoy in Anna Karenina Change is gradual. Usually so gradual it’s imperceptible. Our environment – both what we consciously chose and what we chose a long time ago and is now unconscious – shapes us, changes us. Like a seashell becoming sand, the exact moment can’t be pinpointed. Two things to remember: 1 – Make your choices wisely and deliberately. We are what we repeatedly do, as Will Durant said. That includes the quality of food, news, interactions, exercise, everything. 2 – It’s pointless to be frustrated that a change you want to make isn’t noticeably happening. Whether it’s something you want to change about yourself, someone else, or a culture, Tolstoy reminds us “they imperceptably change of themselves.”

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“Life is a dance, and we’re dancing on a moving floor.” – Klaus Obermeyer

“To be creative means to be in love with life,” Osho said, “You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.”

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Happy from here to a hundred

What if you live to be one hundred years old?  What kind of life would you lead between this moment and then?  What will the quality of those years be like for your? Advertisers would prefer we don’t think those dangerous thoughts. They play on our ‘immediate gratification bias’ – it’s how we’re genetically wired after all. When faced with an uncertain future, take what you can get now.  My 40 Days to Change for Good retreat in 2018 marked my approaching fiftieth year on earth, my hopeful halfway mark alive. We’ll live as long as we live, regardless of our intent. But let’s say that one hundred years old is a possibility for you. The next question we might ask ourselves is, “what do I want the quality of those years ahead to be?” We can ‘just survive’ or we can ‘arrive alive’. One phrase that may help is ‘happy from here to a hundred’. Happiness is a good characteristic to aim for. A deeper happiness perhaps than ‘jumping up and down and yelling out loud how insanely happy I am’ kind of happiness. Perhaps a more quiet happiness, a contentment, a peace with yourself, your choices and your imperfect life.  Persistence needs joy to really activate. And a long life lived with purpose repeatedly redirects and enlivens that life. Here’s to you, and me, and everyone we care about – happy, from here to a hundred.”If I live to be 103, then I will have skied 100 years.” – 99-year-old Klaus Obermeyer

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What if my spouse is not happy about my change?

(This question was posed to me after finding out his attempts to go to bed earlier was being met with resistance from his wife.) If your spouse is not happy about your change attempt you get a first-hand look at why most corporate change attempts fail – no buy-in. Put yourself in your partner’s shoes. If change is happening around you whether you like it or not there is going to be resistance. Try these five tactics. Curiosity and empathy If you were your partner, why would you prefer things to stay just the way you are? Why might this change be threatening or at least annoying? Ask. Don’t ask if you don’t really want to know the answer. That’s just a leading tactic and people sniff that out. Real questions trigger the frontal cortex – the smart part of our brain that looks for connection. Faux questions and a lack of curiosity trigger the amygdala – the dividing part of the brain. ‘Us vs. them’ becomes ‘me vs. you’. You also might get curious about what change they might want to make in their own lives so you can support each other. Let yourself be vulnerable Vulnerability is the cornerstone of trust, something essential for a team, and a marriage is a team of two. This means not having such heavily fortified positions facing the enemy also known as the love of your life. Vulnerability might look like: “I am not happy about this part of me and here’s why I want to change it” “This is important to me. I realize I can’t do this alone – I can’t stick with this change without you.” Get clear about why you want to change and how it could help the relationship Your partner’s resistance might force you to get clearer about why you want to change, not just for you but for both of you – and your kids too. Change works best powered by purpose – making a change for something larger than just you alone. You’ll want to be able to answer the other person’s unspoken, “what’s in it for me?” Disconnect to reconnect There is a time in the evening we can safely call, “no good will come from an argument now” time. You’re both worn-out. When we’re tired the amgydala in the brain is ready to call anything a threat. If it’s heading downhill fast, pause. Stop. Then… Schedule your time to talk When is the best possible time in the day for you both to connect? Every couple has a block of time that’s the sweet spot. Midnight after a long hard day at work is usually not it. Tomorrow in your sweet spot time is a better time to have this conversation. It’s worth it to wait. (In case you’re keeping score, he told me later that he tried #2 and #3 and it worked.)

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Charge or retreat?

“Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat” – Latin proverb which means ‘Fortune Favors the Bold’ “Sit quietly, you happy, lucky idiot.” – Nanao Sakaki Your 40 days change initiative is either a charge or a retreat. A charge is action-focused, creating something new, building something, saying yes to something that’s scary. It’s a leap of faith into the unknown. The charge is action. A retreat is just that – a withdrawing from the outer circles of your life and the world’s sad pants-tugs. You stop doing something. You create space where there was none. You sit quietly, assess, reassess and plot a new course. Working on my posture for 40 days calls for a charge. It needs action to succeed. There are three legs to the stool of support for change – action, thinking and feeling. In changing my posture thinking and feeling are used, but secondary to action. Looking at what I’ve harvested in my first 50 years on earth and determining what I want to grow for the next 50 requires a retreat. It requires the other two legs of the stool – thinking and feeling primarily. Actions I take support the primary work of thinking and feeling. Support is essential for a successful change initiative. Determining whether the desired change will be most helped by a charge or a retreat helps us target the support needed.

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If I ignore it, it will go away

Weird lumps don’t go away when ignored. They grow. Opossums playing dead don’t deter an approaching automobile. Leaders hoping their people and culture problems will solve themselves? What do you think? When I start coaching a leader I usually hear some variation of the “if I ignore it, it will go away” hope/failed tactic. Also, “I’m too busy/tired/worn down to do anything but give up.” Often managers will add, “It’s just easier to do it myself.” That means your people have trained you well. You’re now doing their work for them. What’s an important challenge you’re ignoring? Has it gone away yet?

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I tried once and nothing changed

“I tried to play the guitar once.” “I tried to drive a car once.” “I tried to use a smart phone once.” “And when I was really young I tried to walk once. I also tried to use a fork once, to use the toilet once, to say my first word, etc.” When I begin coaching a leader I usually hear some variation of the above words about the people they’re leading. “I tried to change their behavior once, nothing changed. I tried to change the culture once, nothing changed.” Yep. I bet so. That’s not how change works. Or more specifically, that’s not how change succeeds. It’s important to initiate change. But the next step is more important. How do you persist after initial failure? If you can walk upright, use a fork and use words to speak you’ve got what it takes to keep trying.

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