Change starts with you

The only person’s behavior you can change is your own.

Bryan Dodge, a Texas-based inspirational speaker who addressed a meeting I attended recently, encouraged the audience to think about this familiar maxim. Are you unhappy? You have a much better chance of finding happiness if you are willing to change yourself than if you try to change those around you.

Think about the kind of change that would improve your situation. Identify one or two goals and write them down. People who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them than people who merely think about their goals.

Whatever goals you establish for yourself, think about whether you need someone to help you. If you wanted to improve your golf game, you’d take lessons; if you wanted to learn to write better, you’d get a coach. Same concept applies to career-related goals. If you want to acquire new skills, take a class or hire a personal instructor; if you want to become more efficient, consider hiring a personal coach. Don’t think you have to do it all by yourself. If you don’t have a coach, ask yourself why not? Is it because you are no longer coachable?

Whatever your goals are, encourage yourself. Positive self-talk is important. Normal, healthy people talk to themselves all day long, but sadly studies say about 80 percent of self-talk is negative. Work on that. Change that to positive self-talk. Transform your inner critic to an inner advocate.

One of the best ways to master the art of positive self-talk is to encourage others. Don’t be the person in the office who tears everyone else down. Don’t be so quick to call a new idea stupid. Encourage those around you. Look for the good in every idea. Find something positive to say about everyone you encounter. Be nice even to those who are mean to you. It is easy to be nice to people who are nice to you; the challenge is to find kinds words for those who consistently give you a cold shoulder. Attitude, however, rubs off on others so if you are positive, those around you are more likely to be positive, even those with a reputation for negativity.

What you will begin to notice as you change is that things around you will change for you. Anyone who can change him or her self has an important leadership quality, and others will begin to follow. They may change, too. The best way to make your work place a better place is to become a better person.

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