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Plotty Training

PottytrainingOne of the interesting transitions with having a toddler in the house is going through that phase known as "potty training."  (I personally think the term "house-breaking" fits, given the general disposition of a toddler, but my wife has banned me from using that phrase in reference to our daughter.)  Nowhere in the annals of human behavior do the issues of power, motivation, communication, reward and punishment, and leadership collide so wrecklessly as they do when teaching a child the right way to (...ahem...) "download."

I was doing my periodic round of "blog trolling" and ran across an excellent post by Linda Zdanowicz, a dental practice management professional, in which she applies Dick Richards' three principles of change to a shift in her own responsibilities, among other dental management issues.  The three principles are:

1.  In the realm of human activity, things change only after they are accepted for what they are. For my daughter, she has to come to the realization that she's not yet "attained toilet competencies" before she will push herself to want to change.  For my clients, they have to admit there's a problem before they will be motivated to seek a solution.

2.  Change occurs as a function of distress, vision, capacity for change, and achievable first steps.  I shouldn't even have to go here on the kid front (so I won't).  For my clients, one of the first questions I ask any client is "Why did you call me?"  I want to know the pain catalyst that caused the desire to change.  Pain is a very strong motivator for individuals and organizations alike.  The business world seems to have very little use for proactive thinkers; react at the right time, though, and you're a hero.  (The same applies for potty training, too.)

3.  People are more likely to act on their own conclusions than on someone else's. We have read books to my daughter on the topic.  My wife and older daughter have done "demonstrations."  We have cute little stickers to reward positive behavior.  In the end, it all comes down to the "Ya gotta wanna" principle.  Yesterday, without assistance, questioning, or prodding of any sort, my daughter chose to follow correct procedure.  Her conclusion.  She owned it.  It was her Carpe Factum moment.  When I work with my clients, I inform them that my skills as a speaker, trainer, mentor, or coach are irrelevent if, when the time comes, they are not prepared to act on their own accord.  They will have just wasted a lot of good consulting budget dollars.

And so it goes.  A lot of my areas of expertise (project management, organizational culture, office politics, creativity) all center around behavioral change.  I liked Mr. Richards' simple yet powerful approach to change, but I revelled in Ms. Zdanowicz's applications.  What are you going to do to flush some of your old behaviors?   How will you use these principles to help those around you?


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Linda Zdanowicz

I'm glad you liked my post. It's true, I always seem to have to learn the hard way. I will go through misery trying to "understand" everything. I'm tenacious, and I'll come back and tell all about it, but I have to go through the fire before I believe it's hot. I think that's why Dick Richard's post hit home for me. How about you? Are you as stubborn as I am or can you learn by someone else's experience?

Timothy Johnson

Linda - thanks for joining the conversation! I love it when people from different disciplines join in. I CAN be stubborn... it just depends on the issue. Mostly, I've learned how to learn from others (being a youngest child affords that ability).

The topic of change is very relevant. And change is such a personal process. What motivates me to change may not work on you and vice versa. Another reason why Dick's principles hold true.

Linda Zdanowicz

Timothy, don't you agree that change for adults is very difficult. It's almost like quitting smoking. You have to have an iron will to avoid the behaviors you've become addicted to . Even our way of responding is so patterned that it's almost an addiction. It takes constant awareness and challenging of thoughts to make permanent changes. The rewards are just as great as when any other self destructive pattern is broken so it's worth the effort.

Timothy Johnson

I would agree that change is difficult, but I think the difficulty level is a function of self-awareness and self-discipline. People who have a high level of self-awareness (knowing they need to change) and self-discipline (the ability to re-script their behaviors) are generally successful. It's the people who automatically replay the same scripts they have their entire life who have difficulty.

steven davies

That part.Potty training I mean was very difficult for us,but it is finally over.

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