Awareness Precedes Choice. Choice Precedes Change.
A week or so ago, I had a day trip to the Northeast, and I spent my work hours schlepping through airports, riding in taxis, and making my meetings "just in time." When I finally dragged myself in the door at home, I felt like I had logged a pretty productive day and was largely pleased with my accomplishments. However, when I finally changed into "something more comfortable (not what you think)," I noticed that my oh-so-professional attire was covered in dog hair. Or rather, the BACK was covered in yellow fur...and had likely been there all day long. Yep.
I had given colleagues and clients a visible reminder that I had a large yellow puppy at home and that I was, apparently, living in a pigsty (0r dog-sty, if you will). I hadn't noticed much sneezing or any looks of horror (probably because all the hair was on my back, so I didn't see anyone's disgusted face as I walked out of the room). In short, I was utterly clueless about the mess that I was all day.
I know, in the scheme of things, a little pet hair isn't exactly a work crisis, however it is illustrative of a blind spot. If you aren't aware of a problem, you won't make different choices to fix it. If you don't make different choices to fix it, nothing will ever change. Think of it as a three-layered pyramid. The base of the pyramid is Awareness. The middle section is Choice. The top section is Change.
Awareness is necessary to make a different Choice.
Choices have to be made for there to be any Change.
I needed to be Aware that the yellow canine had scratched his back (rolled around on and/or shed his entire winter coat) against my sweater.
If I had been Aware, then I could have made a Choice to ignore the problem or to do something different like use the lint roll, change sweaters, or put our dog up for adoption (kidding).
If I made a Choice to either change clothes or find the lint brush, the Change would have been a more polished professional (and maybe a few fewer sneezes).
Every problem you encounter will start as an awareness problem. If you are in the position of pushing for change and people don't understand/believe/buy-into the idea that there's a fundamental problem that needs to be fixed, then you can forget about them making any decisions that will ultimately lead to a change. It just won't happen.
The mechanics and psychology of change are fodder for lots of books and clearly merit a deeper dive than this post allows. However, those theories don't remove the truth that change begins with awareness.
Remember, people don't change for the sake of change. They change only after there is an awareness of the problem. Then, and only then, will it be possible to make different choices that result in change.
Think about it. Get aware of the problems around you. Invite others in to help you see the challenges that you don't see. Fess up that there are problems, not failures, but opportunities to try solutions. Pump up the awareness gun and go hunting for stuff to change.
In the meantime, I'm in the market for a portable lint brush.
Let me know if you find a good one.