Inside First, Outside Follows

Have you ever had anyone tell you that you were trying too hard to succeed? After all, aren’t we supposed to work toward being better every day? So, what is it about trying too hard that just does not seem to work?

Now, it is not a mistake to put your energy into something, and it’s not that you should not try at all. However, there comes a point at which we can try too hard, and when that happens, we tend to get in our own way.

Why do you suppose that is? Consider this: All of us have a self-concept or self-image – our idea of who we are. As it happens, we don’t have to think about behaving like the person we know ourselves to be. It is something we do easily and effortlessly. We have a set-point about who we believe we are, and our mind takes care of maintaining the set-point.

For example, if you see yourself as an outgoing person, you don’t need to work at being outgoing, right? It just happens naturally. And, if you see yourself as shy, you don’t have to be reminded to be shy when you are in a group. You know how to act shy, and it’s easy for you to do and be.

But what happens when you try to behave in a way that contradicts your self-image? “That’s not like me,” you think, even if it is a positive change. You go back to behaving like the “real” you as soon as possible. It’s easy and it’s comfortable. This happens with individuals, and with groups. This is also why organizational change is such a challenge to manage and maintain.

It has been pretty much proven that all meaningful and lasting change starts on the inside and works its way out. It doesn’t start on the outside, not the “meaningful and lasting” kind of change, anyway. So, if you want to be different than the way you are now, first work on changing your self-concept – you, on the inside. Change the inside, and the outside will follow.

You won’t have to “try” to behave differently. Change that internal set-point, and it will happen naturally, all by itself.