As part of my reading for my Personal MBA, I am documenting the key lessons I learnt from Re-Create Your Life. It is not intended to be a summary or review, rather a reflection of how the book has influenced my change management approach.
You wake up in the morning feeling depressed. Well, maybe you’re not exactly depressed. But you don’t feel great. Motivation is non-existent when you finally pull yourself out of bed.
Perhaps you notice your reflection in the mirror and cringe. The world is a mess as you turn on the morning news as you start getting dressed. Your job feels like rat race, arriving at work and immediately called into an unscheduled meeting. You feel like you have no control, the world is against you. You are exhausted at the end of the day.
An all to familiar scene and if it resonates, perhaps it is time to question your underlying beliefs, beliefs that could be limiting your success, joy and happiness.
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” – Marcus Aurelius
The primary tools of a change agent are to provide a catalyst for change through information, motivation and new habit discipline, but this often isn’t enough to change emotional and behavioral patterns because there are beliefs underneath the patterns that cause the problems and if those beliefs are not eliminated the problem will not go away.
In the short term information and motivation can drive new behaviour, but like the turbo boost button, it quickly fizzles out. They are useful as a catalyst for change, but not long term change. This is perhaps why so many change programmes feel like they are working while live, but then six months later they feel like they never happened.
For long term change, beliefs need to be change, transformed and in many cases eradicated. A belief is an internal statement about reality, that we think is “the truth,” and this belief moulds our behavior, our emotions, and our attitudes. Which are a combination of what we think and how we feel. An attitude is an emotionally held belief.
So, by challenging limiting beliefs we can eliminate virtually any dysfunctional emotional or behavioral pattern.
There are 5 basic principles to the Lefkoe Method:
- Existence is a function of consciousness
- Language is the primary tool we use to make distinctions
- There is no inherent meaning (or truth) in the world
- When you create a belief, you create a reality
- When you eliminate a belief, you change your reality and create new possibilities
Finding the source
There is no reality independent of our beliefs. To eradicate a limiting belief, we need to identity how we arrived at the belief.
At birth we do not have limiting beliefs. We believe what we see, that is what we perceive to be possible. The foundation of our beliefs are usually set in childhood, with our parents a (the) key factor. Although it should be emphasized that parents do not cause our beliefs, but they do provide the source of behaviour for us to interpret. As kids we are totally dependent on adults for our survival, so it feels safer to interpret their behaviour as infallible.
In the book there are numerous case studies to illustrate the effectiveness of the method in one-to-ones. Then specific chapters on raising empowered children and changing society. Instead of focusing on those, I tested the personal (inward) method myself and took detailed notes on the organisational approach.
The Lefkoe Process for personal change
I tested the method on something personal which I am not ready to share yet and I have kept it offline. What I can say is that it allowed me to get to specifics which involve other people, which naturally it would not be fair to share. It was a powerful experience and it provided a method for tackling an uncomfortable area of my life.
The process – I suggest writing it down or discussing it with a trusted friend (sometimes this is best with someone who is not as close to your circle of influence):
- Identify the undesirable pattern
- Name the underlying beliefs
- Identify the source of each belief – including as much sensory detail as possible – It is normally something used to make sense of behaviour.
- Describe other possibilities (interpretations) – reframing options. Challenging what you believe to be true.
- Realise you didn’t “see” the belief in the world – it was your interpretation.
- Eliminate the old belief – Consciously reject the original as false
- See yourself as the creator – Consciously choose to accept reinterpretation – Go from the truth to a truth.
It is certainly a method that is better experienced than described and I encourage you to give it a go. Find an undesirable pattern of behavior and see what you discover.
If we consider the way we know things, we take experiences as evidence, this evidence builds to build beliefs. But we are interpreting these experiences. So we can create an interpretation that aligns with a better result for us.
On reflection, I realised that I’ve used a basic version of this before in my mindfulness training, except I called it reframing reality. Which is probably more useful for day to day experiences liking being cut off in traffic.
- What do I believe?
- Why do I believe that?
- What else could be an interpretation of that?
The Lefkoe Process for organisational Change
This is particularly relevant for me at the moment, as in my day job, one of my main mandates is to change the way we operate. I have a lot of tools at my disposal, but I still wanted something more powerful to transform mindset and behaviours, something that transcend the initial gloss. Something to change the team culture.
An organisational culture becomes visible in the innumerable policies, practices, procedures, organisational structure, management style and systems. The Ps and Ss. This culture drives (enables) behaviour. We need to start with – what behaviour do we want. Then work backwards from there to the beliefs. From this we can change our Ps & Ss.
- First Order Change – This is where we find ways to do things a little better, faster, or easier. It is specific and instructive.
- Second Order Change – Behavioural change that requires a new belief or culture. The change is still driven by managers. It does allow staff to see more purpose in their role and give them the tools for third order change.
- Third Order Change – Managers create the environment in which the workers do the thinking. The managers then support the changes they propose. Key is that change driven by the staff. The most important job of a worker is to figure out what barriers are getting in their way and eliminate them. To get third order change, we need to eliminate an often held core belief that if managers don’t tell people what to do, nothing will be done.
Step 1 – Create an Effective Mission and Operate Out of It Consistently
It must serve as the standard for all of the organisations decisions. This may be in the form of principles or vision. What is important is that it provides the “North Star” for guidance.
Step 2 – Employees Change their Beliefs about Their Jobs
Remember the managers need to support the changes they propose. The change is driven by staff. The workers most important job is to figure out what barriers are getting in their way and eliminate them. People don’t resist change as much as is proclaimed, if they changed company, they would do things a new way, without resistance. It is often the Ps and Ss that don’t change sufficiently.
Step 3 – Don’t Just Fix Problems, Eliminate their Source
Step 4 – Start Employees on Eliminating Barriers to Implementing the Mission
Top down change can create other problems, as those making the decisions are not close enough to understand the reality.
Step 5 – When Employees Focus on Solutions, Management Can’t Say No
Make a rule that employees are not allowed to bring in problems, only solutions. The solution needs to target eliminating the source.
The Lefkoe Method is a powerful tool for behavioural change. It has already helped me on a personal level and I plan to use it for organisational change. Beliefs underly our behaviour, many of these beliefs can and should be challenged. This is something I have been working on over the last few years, questioning my “hidden scripts”, which are my beliefs that I did not know I had or why I had them. I plan to use the Lefkoe Method more going forward, tailoring it to my needs.