Make sustainable change Part 1/3 — discovering prime drivers.
This is a series of three articles on how to make difficult, but vital, changes and how to lay a foundation to sustain them personally and in business. Drawing from my experience with anxiety, as well as being an innovation consultant, I uncovered:
- Part 1: A method for discovering what a person loves to do.
- Part 2: How, why, and what people can do to reduce the effect that their ego has in blocking change.
- Part 3: How to unearth passionate leaders across an organisation.
I have to say that I only speak from my experience in these articles. I’m not a qualified psychologist. What works for one person may not work for all but, as with innovation, different perspectives are key.
One thing I’m sure of is that sustainable change, personally or in business, starts with individuals taking responsibility for it. Unearthing my prime driver, what I love to do, has been an amazing fuel to create the kind of change I wanted, and needed, in my life. It was (and still is) a journey with an everyday blocker but once a prime driver is discovered the motivation it creates is very powerful.
Identifying your prime driver.
When out and about, notice when you get excited and what about. What’s the felt experience, right down to the very little things? Let time pass, keep observing, and make a list of them. What changes in each? What is the action, the doing that takes place? The key is to figure out the connection, then extrapolate that. A prime driver is something you feel, not think. That’s how you’ll know when you’ve hit one.
As an example, here’s how I discovered mine.
Picture being at dinner or a bar with people you don’t know and being asked…
“What do you do?”
The answer to that question is often something like, “I’m an artist”, “banker”, “journalist”, etc.
Mine is “I’m an Innovation consultant”.
‘A what?’ (or a look of confusion) is the usual reply.
It’s a job which is quite difficult to explain… “We disrupt ‘business as usual’ and help people gain the confidence to try new things, create new products, ways of working, growth strategies, etc., ultimately, we help businesses to create culture change.”
“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” Steve Jobs.
Do I love innovation consulting? No. I enjoy it very much but it’s not what actually drives me in the context of doing great work.
What one does must be an action. Consulting is a verb, yes, but it’s not the base, or prime, verb for me. Slowing down, being mindful, and observant is how I allowed my prime driver to surface. Mine was doubly confirmed when I realised that its inverse makes me incredibly sad.
As with innovation, critical insight can come from anywhere.
The final piece of the puzzle for discovering what I love to do came from an odd place; during the experience of buying a house (now that I do not love!). Was I super excited about getting on the property ladder? No. The security? No. The garden? A bit. It was when I thought about jet-washing the patio at my new place that I noticed a physical reaction. I was most excited about that! Which. Was. Weird.
That physical, goose-pimply reaction is the key. That’s your prime driver talking to you.
I allowed space for the feeling, sat with it for a few weeks, and observed other times that exaggerated level of emotion occurred:
- At the end of a play when the audience claps
- Seeing someone (me included) nailing something they were super nervous about
- Seeing a photo I’m proud I’ve taken
- Renovation e.g. restoring an old leather suitcase
- Making stuff from discarded stuff
- A genuine moment of connection with someone
- Mentoring, and in turn, someone learning something new
- Even, the sound of crunching on a dry leaf in autumn
What have those things got in common with innovation consulting? They all involve realising potential.
I know it sounds odd to compare but seeing a photo that captures exactly what you hoped it would is realising the potential in framing that moment. Helping people overcome their fears is realising potential. Crunching a leaf realises the potential of the sound (it feels so good!). Renovation, realising potential.
Innovation consulting creates space for people to shift their mindset towards their job. When that happens, their excitement involved with unlocking game-changing ideas goes through the roof. You get to realise potential — which is ace! It’s that which makes me tick, love what I do, and do great work.
Real, sustainable, change starts with an emotion, a passion, a prime driver. Personally or in business, it requires time, space, and observation to unearth what people really care about. It’ll take a bit of time to notice the thread to identify your prime driver but it’ll come. Once discovered the effects are wonderful.
However, once you’re aware of prime drivers, there is a major thing to acknowledge which habitually blocks progress along the journey. The ego…
In ‘Making sustainable change part 2 of 3 — acknowledging the ego’, we’ll unpack how, why, and what you can do about the fact that your ego doesn’t like change…