Coming to WTM is Jez Rose with his new show Jez Rose – Bolder, Braver, Stronger. In his highly engaging live lecture, Jez Rose provides a fascinating insight into human behaviour and why we do what we do, helping to see change as a natural opportunity to adapt and evolve.
He’ll be at the Pavilion Theatre Atrium, Monday 21 March at 6:30pm. In this guest blog, Jez gives us a brief insight into how change benefits us but why we can be so resistant to do so. Read on to find out more.
“I’m writing a new book.
At the core of my work for the past 16 years has been an interest in why people do the things they do – and indeed why they sometimes don’t.
Our ability to change is a remarkable trait of our species, yet change doesn’t naturally sit comfortably for many of us and as such, people don’t readily change. It’s why we stay in relationships we know deep down aren’t right, and why we don’t set up that business we’ve always dreamt of, for example.
Change resistance exists for several reasons but I believe that at its heart is a threat to our identity: our lives are constructed of routines; comfort zones; boundaries, and those rhythms we have created. Each are important because they define us.
The balance and comfort we feel when we drink our favourite brand of drink from our preferred mug, followed by doing ‘this thing’ and then ‘that thing’; and driving a particular route to work; fulfilling our scheduled tasks, or regular social engagements, coupled with our hopes, dreams, aspirations, beliefs and opinions is what makes us: us.
Somewhat ironically, the idea of evolving or progressing is one that appeals to most of us much more than the idea of having to change. Change is something that inherently feels like it happens to us; whereas evolving feels like we’re in control, and something we can choose to do because we want to willingly go on that positive onward journey. The cornerstone of our response to change is whether or not we are willing and active participants of the change, or assessing and coping with it having been forced upon us.
What so often gets in our way, however, are our comfort zones. We get to choose how we respond because our comfort zones are defined by us. Admittedly they can be influenced and shaped by childhood events; parenting and life experiences, but they are not set in stone.
We don’t challenge our comfort zones because we rarely ask enough questions. The result is that we continue to only know what we know, and only ever live how we have: in short, we are often our greatest barrier to change. The more questions we ask, the more opportunities we’ll discover to check that we’re on the right path. The two I encourage most often are: “Why do I do it this way?”, and “How do I make it better?”.
The hardest question to answer is: “Who am I now?”. Who we were, as people, as teams and as organisations just two years ago is different to who we are now. We have all changed. Despite our resistance to change, we are constantly changing: who you were in your teens was not the same person you were in your twenties; and likewise, thirty two year old you is not, or will not, be the same as fifty two year old you. World circumstances have shown us all how readily we are able to adapt, evolve and habituate as our journey develops.
Periods of change almost always involve four key periods, and have a striking similarity to nature’s very own process of change. We enter the cycle at the behaviour change equivalent of autumn: a period of harvesting, repair and regeneration. It’s during the autumn season in nature that crops are harvested; gardeners cut back flowers and plants so the plant’s energy is focused on the roots to create a stronger and bigger plant for next year. We add fertiliser into the soil; dig it over to allow air and goodness in and gather our crops to prepare for winter.
For humans you can readily relate I’m sure to that period of purging unnecessary things when you think back to the end of a relationship, leaving a job or moving house: the glee of throwing out items of forgotten clothing your ex left, and pouring every last drop of that expensive aftershave down the sink. We strip things back as we repair and regenerate.
Following this we enter the equivalent of winter. A period of dormancy and bleakness when we often think nothing is happening. In nature there is in fact plenty happening below the soil, however, simultaneously there’s also nothing happening. Even nature knows that sometimes it’s important to rest; to press pause; to reset. Something we don’t do nearly enough of – and then wonder why we don’t manage. We, too, move from our period of repair to a period of dormancy.
In time we move into spring: that period of growth when things noticeably start to happen: we move on; ideas formulate; we adapt, evolve, and things we’ve put into place start to develop. We recover from pain; we find ourselves with more energy, or inspiration.
And of course, then (but not finally) we move into summer: a period of ultimate abundance, which, if you spend any time on social media, you’d think was possible to constantly stay living in. But it’s not. It simply isn’t possible for us to live in a period of abundance all the time. Just like nature, it is the natural rhythm of life; the natural rhythm of human behaviour that we move through four very different periods of change.
Knowing which part of the change cycle you are in at any one time is really important: you can plan for what you know is coming, but also be reassured of where you are – and why.
One thing I have observed, is that unlike nature’s seasons, which are relatively consistent and equal, certainly here in England anyway, human periods of change drastically alter depending on what it is that is changing. The time you spend in a period of dormancy may be long. It may be extremely quick. Your period of abundance may be short lived, or it may blossom for a wonderful longevity.
However, it is not possible to fight nature; nor is it, I believe, possible to alter the duration of the periods of change you must go through. Sometimes you just need to sit on your hands.
We are human: it is in many ways our greatest strength, but because we are only human, it is also one of our greatest weaknesses.
If we acknowledge our weaknesses, or areas of potential development; our ability to adapt, evolve, or think differently about something, we vicariously give ourselves permission to be human: to be vulnerable and authentic. That’s one thing the incredible technology we are surrounded by can’t offer. In fact, it relies on us being honest and authentic to get the very most out of it.
And if there’s one thing I’ve learnt that is incredibly important right now, the greatest gift you can offer someone, is your authentic self.“