The Journey Blog

Reflections on the art of leading

Change or Die: Five Myths about Changing Behavior

Change or Die is the title Alan Deutschman chose to counter the popular notion that scaring someone to death will motivate them to change and grow.

In his May 2005 piece in Fast Company, Deutschman cites data on patients with severe heart disease that prove the opposite. Even one of the most frightening threats—repeated drastic surgery and eventual certain death—has an extremely short shelf-life as a motivator.

The five myths are that a crisis, fear, knowing the facts, and making changes slowly are what work to inspire and sustain change...and the last myth is that we can't change after a certain age.

What intrigues me about the Deutschman article is his observation of the factors that contribute to lasting dramatic change. What made the difference to a group of cardiac patients, who were severely diseased and debilitated people, was a combination of factors: a guide who orchestrated a healthy process, introducing big changes that bring immediate small improvements, these improvements bring hope and increased well being, new learning, supportive community, and a repeated experience of these over time.

Why do so many great seminars and learning experiences, as positive as they may be, fail to produce lasting change? I've learned that it is because they lack the ongoing reinforcement that makes new behaviors stick. What is most effective in making change stick is to be among a community of people who share the desire to grow and change, who are seeking to apply what they're learning together, who are supportive but not soft, who offer positive accountability, hope, and learning among their peers.

That's the power of facilitated peer learning.

Click to see the full article and the five myths about changing behavior.