This simple sentence published by Ali Davies in Google+ stuck with me.

“Being willing to challenge your own status quo is an essential part of getting on the path to creating change.”

A very true statement and a very challenging one, too. Personal change can only happen if a person wants to change. Leaders can only facilitate change if they first start with themselves. It takes personal motivation and a lot more.

Change fails often.

Change becomes a fad. A moment embraced quickly and fades just as fast.

Change becomes like a new piece of clothing. It looks sharp at first glance but then gets pushed to the back of the closet.

We see the data. It shows trends going in the wrong direction, ratios out of sync, and surveys with bad results.

We stare at change. It is an icy stare. We can see it, feel it, but cannot make it happen. The reality is we are entranced with the status quo.

We get caught up in daily routines. We get stuck and keep stuck.

Change feels uncomfortable. We like being comfortable.

Change seems to belong to someone else. We like to point fingers.

Real change can happen if we move to the levels where we really need to go.

Change succeeds when embraced more deeply.

Change takes hold more successfully if done from an emotional, social, and spiritual level. True change takes a deeper look and true engagement at each of these three levels.

Challenge Your Status Quo

Emotional. Feelings play an important role in change. Our emotions can hold us in a status quo state. Even though we may be in an unhappy emotional condition, other emotions may hold a stronger grip on us. Fear is one. Comfort is another. Our disposition to our various emotional states play a role in whether or not we discard the status quo and move in a new, better direction.

A few key questions to answer may be helpful:

  1. Which emotions do we hold to a higher value? Do these emotions enable change or prevent it?
  2. What is our emotional commitment to our current ways?
  3. What emotion is driving us to change? Or, what emotion do we need as a driver to achieve the required change?

We need to be emotionally committed to the desired change. It takes self-control. It takes getting our emotions in the right priority order. We need to tap into the right emotion that is going to enable us to change.

Social. Our social community plays key parts in our duel between the status quo and change. Friends, family, and co-workers participate. Some, for whatever reason, may hold us back. It could be intentional or unintentional. In many ways, it doesn’t matter. We need to ask ourselves whether or not our social interactions and relationships are really helping us or not.

For me, this really boils down to two key questions that I have highlighted in previous posts:

  1. Do the people around you make you a better person?
  2. Do you make those around you better?

A mutually-beneficial relationship is the best kind. At times, it may be more challenging to support someone in the change they need to make. It could be due to a change in our relationship with them or just a tough, but needed, change to make.

We need to ensure we have supportive, challenging (for the right reasons), and mutually beneficial relationships in place. Strong relationships challenge. Strong relationships care. Strong relationships make us better and interrupt the status quo when required.

Are people holding us back or down or enabling us to move up and forward? We need the latter to engage meaningful, worthwhile change.

Spiritual.  Our core beliefs matter. Our life philosophy matters. How we approach change depends on how we view continuous learning, improving ourselves, serving in our community, and other values. In many ways, it depends on how we view our humanness. Do we view it as a static state? Or, do we view it as evolving and growing?

It is not forgoing key principles. It is ensuring we have defined our values, principles, and philosophies to drive our live in a purposeful way.

The key questions to answer in the spiritual dimension may be:

  1. What do we really hold dear and close to how we live and lead our life? What are our life and leadership drivers?
  2. Are our core beliefs and values aligned with the change desired?
  3. What values are tripping us up from moving forward in new, better directions? What values do we need to embrace to lead and live in a balanced change-purpose way?

We need to spend the time as early in our life as possible to explore our spiritual side and determine our core empowering beliefs and philosophies. It prepares the foundation for a life well-lived and a leadership model well-formulated.

Challenge your status quo.

“Challenge your status quo” is the statement that sparked this. As I thought more about it, it dawned on me that we need to go deeper to do this in a proper and real progress-oriented way.

The new reality, I believe, is this:  Change can only happen from within and enabled through the right social and emotional conditions. We stare at our status quo, and we freeze. It is a stalemate, unless we go deeper and understand what we need in our living and leading capabilities to change and proceed in good, purposeful directions.

How do you challenge your status quo effectively?