If ice is at 20 degrees Fahrenheit, it is solid ice. If ice heats up to 31 degrees Fahrenheit, it remains solid ice. Yet with a temperature change of just one more degree – from 31 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit, ice begins to melt. Before this point, the ice was heating up and gaining energy, but there was no visible change until 32 degrees when it started to melt. Even then, it will remain at 32 degrees as a large amount of heat (called latent heat) to break down the molecules and move it through a complete transformation from ice to water.
How can we relate this with how people change in our lives? Here are a few ideas:
As leaders, colleagues, friends, and family members, it is easy to look at others and wish for them to change or adjust their behavior to make our lives easier. And why not? If John or Karen would get more work done or be more self-sufficient, the whole team would look better, right?
We must remember that all we can see is the outward actions of others. We don’t know what is going on inside that is driving that action. Let’s start by extending a bit of grace to others before passing judgement – just like you would appreciate someone extending you.
Help Others See the Change
Just as we can only see the outward expressions of others, sometimes that’s all that people use to judge themselves on. For example, when I started exercising regularly, I focused a lot on the measurement of weight. It didn’t change much over a whole year. Yet, when someone suggested I use other measurements that were less obvious like strength tests and body fat %, those metrics had changed dramatically from where I started.
How can you utilize “secondary” measurements like this and look for positive ways the people in your life are improving? Recognizing progress brings a lot of joy to work and life. If you can help someone see progress that they can’t see in themselves, it will be a great blessing.
Ask Others to Help See Change in You
Let’s flip the script from the last section. Are you your own worst critic? Do you struggle allowing yourself to acknowledge progress you have made, instead focusing on what you haven’t been able to accomplish? If so, you’re not alone. Here are a few ideas to invite others into your own change process:
Ask for Positive Feedback – Directly asking others to identify ways you are doing good or improving can help you believe what you may not believe yourself.
Avoid Negative People – Some people are just negative about every facet of their life. Being around them has a tendency to rub off on you. Find positive people. (See my post on the Social Proximity Effect for more on this)
Open Up – It can be hard to open up to others about some of your deepest feelings and insecurities. Yet this vulnerability can invite the true connection to feel accepted and change.
It’s true, change can be difficult, but by suspending judgment, helping others to see the change, and asking others to help see your change, we can create an environment where change is encouraged, supported, recognized, and celebrated. As people, we rise together. Make a decision today to be the catalyst to help those around you.
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