Monday, July 6, 2009

I can’t change you, so I’ll change you!

My brain overheated. That was after hearing a popular speaker say this in one of his audio talks ...
I can’t change you, so I’ll change you."
10 Items (myself included) by Darwin Bell ... the picture title smartly explains the picture, doesn't it? 

I screamed in terror, “Hey, you don’t make any sense!”

There are actually two meanings of the word “change” that would change our perspectives altogether. One is “to alter.” The other is “to switch.” All of a sudden the statement changes from being funny to being scary, doesn’t it?

So, let me share with you three rules about changing people that I have stumbled into lately.

Rule #1. Don’t Change People. That’s their job.

As parents, my wife and I share one principle, which goes:

If you require someone to change, you require that person to lie to you.

We got a printed copy of this quote from a seminar and we had it framed. It is hanging in our living room to remind us about how to guide our children’s growth.

The same principle applies to life in general -- friends, associates, employees, employers, partners, church mates, community, whatever and wherever.

It is their job. Not even the greatest teachers who have walked on earth have changed people. To be frank about it, not even God can change you, or someone else!

So, how come we expect people to change because we say so?

Change is a product of introspection, of internal realization, and decision. This is a process that goes on inside the person since the day one is born into the earth, or so experts say (which I also believe to be so).

Therefore, what all the great teachers have done, including God himself, is to influence people and to let them draw inspiration from this influence.

Next time you feel the urge to change someone, back off! That’s not your territory.

The most you can do is influence that person. How do you influence them? Let’s dwell on this question in later posts.

In the meantime, you may find this book very useful: “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. Its copyright goes back to 1936; which means, just Google it and you’ll find it on the first page of the search results, guaranteed!

Rule #2. Change People. That’s your job.

You may find the first rule far easier to digest than this one. But just let the idea sink for a moment. Switching people the moment they cease to contribute to your mission or well-being …. is your job, not anyone else’s.

I can hear the staccato of questions now, but at this point, let me be clear on two points:

* The first person you change is yourself. That’s your job, and it is within your territory. Self-explanatory, right?
* The second part of this job is to choose the people around you.

Don’t let unwelcome people trespass your territory. Take out the emotional vampires, the crab thinkers, the “experts” in the brand new area you want to explore, etc. This can be painful because some of them are existing friends or family.

Someone who wants to play tennis usually hangs out with people who play tennis, right? When you see someone who says, “I love tennis” and yet hangs out with people who play another game, would you think that guy is serious? Would you think that guy would ever have a chance of winning in Wimbledon?

This rule is huge. But let it sink it at this point. We can go deeper into this in future posts.

Rule #3. Learn the art of forgiveness and forbearance

Rule #1 and Rule #2 are not black and white rules. In other words, they are not meant to make you a judgmental person. They’re intended to help you see where Points A and B are in the change process. Once you have identified the two points, the rest is the journey in between.

The third rule is where the rubber hits the ground.

This rule is where you allow yourself and others to change. This is where you see mistakes and give yourself and others the space to correct them. This is where the virtues of forgiveness and forbearance play a very big part, without losing sight of the objective.

How can you be forgiving and forbearing? Big question. I’m currently writing a post about the discipline of setting goals. It will touch on forgiveness and forbearance.

In the meantime, forget about changing people in your life, ok? Instead, start changing them immediately.


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