Previously, I wrote that personal development was not personal in that it was not about YOU: the inherently valuable aspect of you that is beyond definition and peoples’ critical judgement. Some call it Spirit: I call it the divine spark of life that God put in you.
But if you want a secret to the implementation and usage of the personal development material you are using – here it is: you need to personalise the change you want to make for yourself. A little later I’m going to show you a very powerful method of doing so.
I want to briefly define ‘implementation’. Implementation is where you make the things you were planning actually happen. It’s where the rubber hits the road. It’s where you start pedalling and the chain gets engaged and you go somewhere. Only for some of us, we pedal and the bike doesn’t move because the chain’s come off….
Why might this be? Let’s go back to childhood for a minute. (We won’t stop long!)
Have you ever seen any normal child suffering from lack of motivation to explore and implement? There is a reason we move objects off the low shelves, cover plug holes and use rubber door stoppers!
What I’m trying to say is that we naturally want to learn by doing and by doing so we naturally learn. We play, and we learn. To alter a phrase by the great inventor Thomas Edison (who made the light-bulb and telegraph) we are not squeamish about exploring because we realise that all of life is a great experiment.
Have you ever seen a two year old not wanting to try something new out? So what happens? Well, it varies but for many people their natural curiosity gets blunted by adult indignation: “Don’t touch that!” “No”.
I’m not saying it’s all our parents’ fault (although I did go through that phase) but that older people around us, (mostly because of their own problems and lack of nurturing) tell us things we believe because we don’t know any better. And those things are usually limiting and toxic.
If the ability to implement could be thought of as a conduit from mind-to-muscle then for many of us it is clogged up worse than the kitchen sink. If you keep tipping ‘yuk’ down a sink eventually the water won’t go anywhere. If you keep stifling the desire to take action that comes from great thoughts, neither will you…!
What does it really mean to ‘know’ something?
Secondly, here in the West we seem to have a strange delusion about what it means to ‘know’ something.
In the Ancient Far East the Aramaic speaking peoples’ word for ‘word’ meant a simultaneous combination of thinking and doing. This is well expressed by a statement of Jesus who said to the people around him: “If you are truly my disciples (learners and followers) then you will obey my teachings. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)
Pick that apart a bit. Essentially Jesus said: When you take the actions and think the way I command you to do, that doing will reveal the Truth to you. And then the Truth that you now know (because you experienced it) will set you free. No doing, no experiencing – no real knowledge – and no Truth or freedom.
Some of us Westerners, when asked about a subject we are familiar with, say, “I knowthat” – and we mean, “I’ve memorised a fact about it”. But I suspect, if you have been into personal development for a while, that you know a few people who can tell you far more about the subject than they can demonstrate has actually turned up in their lives.
You might be one of those people. I certainly was, and have a lot of catching up to do from 15 years of reading… but I now have some decent implementation methods now, methods that get from mind-into-muscle and start producing real behavioural changes.
Making the change ‘personal’
Personalisation is one of those methods. Here, we are using a particular method called ‘identification’. This is something we do all the time when we say:
“I am a man/woman/coach/lawyer etc.”
These identifications – ‘I’ = some concept, are usually not harmful unless our conceptualisation of these roles are destructive. For me, I am a man, a husband, a father, a Christian, a coach and trainer and a lot of other things.
Identification is one of the most powerful change-creating frames of mind. Who we ARE affects our perception of our entire being and how we act. Michael says “…identifying sends commands to your neurology to consider the two “the same” and “real”. (p124)
Basically, we are more likely to act in a way consistent with who we think we ‘are’.
This, of course, has a negative side as well…
When we say ‘I am’ a failure, worthless, stupid etc. then we identify our one level of our selves (the ‘I’) as being absolutely equivalent with the concept. And the effect can be to frame out any positive ideas about ourselves completely. We need to be careful what we identify ourselves with!
So if we want to create radical shifts we can deliberately identify ourselves with an idea and it will often pervasively affect our thinking and behaviour. The trick is to do it on purpose.
As L. Michael Hall notes in his book Achieving Peak Performance “once you set this [identity frame], violation will generate one of the greatest pains we humans experience – the pain of being untrue to ourselves. It leads to feeling incongruent…inauthentic…hypocritical… wrong etc…”
Up front I will say I trust you will identify with an idea that is healthy for you and those in your life. That’s the ecology check done…!
The Personalisation Pattern
This pattern is adapted from one in Achieving Peak Performance.
Choose a frame (idea, belief, state, emotion, value etc) that you want to identify with. This will be ‘x’.
1) If you were to choose something you would consciously like to identify/equate yourself with, what would it be?
Example: I am a business man
2) As you imagine what it would be like for you to be x does it fit in all areas of your life? Does this personalising have the kind of quality that you want? What happens when you personalise it by saying “This is about me?”
Example: well, I want to make sure I am an ethical business man so I need to adjust this description a bit – “I am an ethical businessman.” When I say “this is about me” then it seems ok but I’ll need to work it into my identity as its not yet.”
3) Imagine something that you truly own, something that you would not let anyone take away from you (body parts are good for this) and when you fully feel the state of ‘mine’, think about this x, and claim it by affirming loudly ‘mine’, ‘mine’, ‘mine’ until you feel the sense of ownership settle into your body.
Example: I own my heart. No-one can take this from me. It’s MINE!
4) Identify yourself with the frame by recalling a time that you had the experience of being so connected with something it seemed like part of you. It could have been a toy, a pet, a boy or girlfriend, a town or city. As you think about this thing, NOW think about the x you desire as part of your identity. I have found completing the description “I am someone who…”
Example: I am someone who thinks in terms of systems, profits, adding value and so on.
Imagine how you would look, feel, speak and act. Make it bright, colourful, vivid and dramatic. ‘Try it on’. Enjoy the ‘me’ with this frame of mind.
5) Now notice what it’s like as you imagine moving into the days and weeks to come with this self-definition…do you like this? Is it ecological for all your relationships?”
Example: Yes, as long as I confine doing this to the areas of my life where I do business, it’ll be fine.
There are numerous implementation techniques around. The NLP swish pattern can act as one as well but I advise you to use this technique wisely. If you have any concerns, get a professional (like me!) to work with you.
One other way to kick start the process of implementation is to do what William James, the father of psychology said: “Never leave the scene of a decision without taking some action, however small.”
Translating what we ‘know’ into what we ‘do’ is important as it underscores our entire personal growth. I urge you to study this important subject as a fundamental life-skill. Mastering implementation can enable you to become an exemplar and a leader in your field – and you can.