Oh, Boy, Here We Go Again
Do you ever get stuck in a vicious cycle that’s not producing the results you want? I’ve been there, more often than I’d like to admit. I can be having a civil conversation with a colleague. Suddenly, we’re at odds. How did that happen…again? And how can I prevent it from happening next time?
I don’t think I’m particularly unusual. Many of us are stuck in cycles that feel like“déjà vu all over again,” as Yogi Berra put it.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
What if you could identify the dynamics that are producing the results you don’t want? Then you'd be able to see how your thinking and actions are contributing to those results! That gives you the choice to change your thinking and actions to get the results you do want.
In my experience, this is one of the most powerful transformation tools you can find. I’ve witnessed life-changing ahas from a simple two-part exercise.
If you’re interested, I’d be thrilled to share it with you. But first you have to agree to these conditions:
You have to truly want things to change.
And be willing to examine your own part in the situation.
Have a sense of humor about the foibles of human beings, including your own.
Are you in? If so, let’s proceed!
There’s something called a Belief Action Result cycle that could be causing your trouble. Rather than describing it, let me share some examples that might resonate.
The Dreaded Staff Meeting
Your team has a weekly staff meeting. You’d rather be getting a root canal. But they are mandatory, so you need to show up. Because you see them as a waste of time you spend most of the meeting texting and otherwise disengaging. The result? You guessed it: You wasted another hour of your life. Instead of asking, “How can I contribute to this being a productive meeting?” you’ve confirmed your pre-existing belief.
If You Want Something Done Right, Do It Yourself
James has a coaching goal to delegate more to his staff. He’s always overwhelmed because he’s doing their work as well as his own. Recently he acknowledged that, “I don’t trust them to do it right!” Aha! The makings of a Belief Action Result cycle. He then plotted out what actions he was taking based on that belief, and then what results he was getting. It wasn't surprising to find that the results reinforced his pre-existing belief.
Conflict with Colleague
A client wanted to improve an adversarial relationship with a colleague. At first, she believed her colleague was a jerk and she was a victim. Then she realized that her actions might be contributing to the result. Once she had that awareness, she was able to identify the belief (“She doesn’t value me”) that was leading to her actions. That was the first step in creating a positive Belief Action Result cycle.
We could go on…and on. But you get the idea. Now it’s time for you to try your own.
Part One: Negative Loop
1. Pick a result you’re getting that you’re not happy with. Write it in the box below under RESULTS.
2. Then, identify the actions you are taking (hint: not someone else’s actions!) that could be contributing to those results. Write them in the box below under ACTIONS.
3. Finally, what belief might you hold about the situation that is leading to those results? Fill in the box under BELIEF.
Now take a step back and admire your work. You've just completed part one of your first Belief Action Result cycle.
Part Two is where the magic happens…or at least it can. As I said, it depends on whether you genuinely want change to happen and are willing to experiment with shifting your belief.
Part Two: Positive Loop
1. In the box below, write in the results you would like to see in the situation you described above. Write that in the box under RESULT.
2. Then, identify actions you would need to take to get those results. Write that in the box labelled ACTION.
3. Finally, come up with the beliefs you’d need to hold that could enable you to take those actions. Make sure these are beliefs you could honestly imagine holding, even if it’s a stretch. For example, let's say that that in your first loop you identified the belief that “she and I are enemies.” It might be a stretch to think you can switch to “she and I are friends.” Try something more neutral. I could be something like“we have a history of conflict but things could be different going forward.”
This is a positive Belief Action Result cycle.
Does This Really Work?
You might be thinking this is too good to be true. That real change around the pain points in our lives requires effort and willpower. That was certainly my belief until recently. But I now see it's possible for transformation to happen with a shift in consciousness alone. Heidi, a colleague, expressed this elegantly when she said, “The awareness does the work.”
What do you have to lose?
Pick a situation that has been bothering you for way too long. Try the two-part exercise and see what you discover. Oh, and I forgot one step. Once you finish Part Two of the exercise, commit to trying out the new belief and seeing what flows from that. Give it a try and let me know what happens.