Saturday, March 8, 2008

Chasing Change Welcomes M.J. Clark

I'm delighted to welcome a guest this week on Chasing Change. My friend and coach, M.J. Clark, is a professional speaker, leadership consultant, and executive coach with Integrated Leadership Systems in Columbus, OH. You can read her bio here.

Are You Ready To Change?

I love the name of this blog – Chasing Change – because it identifies change as something good, something we are chasing after. I love change, because to me change means growth, but I often encounter people who greatly fear change. Change is definitely something you must be ready for and something that takes hard work. We spend lifetimes developing bad habits and harmful self-talk that takes time and effort to undo.

Through my work as an executive coach for Integrated Leadership Systems, I have worked with people in all stages of change. Many times people think they want to change but, when faced with a coach who challenges them, they quickly come up with a wide range of reasons why they can’t begin now. Studies have shown that the ability for a person to make a permanent change depends on their readiness to change. People go through five stages of change before a permanent, new habit can be formed:
  • Precontemplation – No intention to change any time soon.
  • Contemplation – Knows a problems exists, but is not committed to taking action to fix it.
  • Preparation – Have not taken action in the last year, but intends to in the next month or two.
  • Action – Taking action to modify behavior (involves expenditure of time and energy).
  • Maintenance – Habit has been changed and person works to prevent relapse.
During this process, some people will slip back into old habits from time to time. This should be expected. They are still moving forward, but they have to keep learning and trying new things to make the new habit permanent. Be patient with yourself or those you know who are trying to change. Change takes time and a great deal of effort. It also takes courage.

We all have baggage we carry with us from childhood. Sometimes dysfunctional behavior that is a byproduct of our personal baggage leaks out like acid into our personal and work relationships and can destroy what we have worked so hard to achieve in our lives. Facing our past and our fears is scary, but it’s the only way to move forward to become a stronger, wiser, more self-aware individual.

Change is a character-building activity I highly recommend. And I welcome any questions you might have or comments you would like to share if you are facing change-related challenges in your life. I do know this: you won’t change if you just sit around reading blog postings about it. So lace up those sneakers, and let the chase begin!

M.J. Clark
Business Consultant
Integrated Leadership Systems
614/214-7062 (cell)

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