Kevin D Thompson – Immediate Sweeping Change - Or Prolonged Incremental Change | Blog

Immediate Sweeping Change - Or Prolonged Incremental Change

Posted 2012-05-08
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Category Performance

The question of whether quick, easy, and sweeping change can be made, or if significant change must be made over a course of time by small bits and pieces is a potential point of confusion and debate for people seeking to make change in their self or others.

The answer is that both are possible - however not interchangeable approaches. If we look at it just a little bit, it becomes clear what the appropriate expectations are for generating change under each type of investment of time and effort.

A couple of metaphors may be useful in considering this matter. Many of us have seen videos of demolition experts destroying large buildings in cities. It is very impressive to see a high-rise building blown-up from the inside and being reduced to a dusty pile within just a few moments. While there are more than just a couple of hours invested in planning the destruction, properly placing the explosive material, securing the area, and ultimately removing the debris, the process is but a fraction of what was needed to erect the structure initially.

Similarly, consider an image on an Etch-A-Sketch. Many of us have played with this toy and noticed the ease with which we can "wipe-out" images we no longer want on the screen. With a quick flip to turn it upside-down and a few quick shakes the screen is returned to a blank state ready to get a new image.

Returning to the building destruction we may also have seen a long-term approach to destroying a building. There are of course a number of ways a building can be destroyed over extended frames of time. We have seen the return of a building to it's basic elements through entropy - the natural process of decay. And we have also seen people "de-construct" a building piece-by piece, perhaps to re-use materials or perhaps because dynamite, fire or bulldozing are just not appropriate for the situation.

From these metaphors can we see that demolition("negative" change) of something can be appropriately accomplished either quickly or over an extended period of time depending on resources and other influencing factors?

Now let us consider for a moment - can a building be constructed in just a few moments? Can a building be constructed over the course of an extended period of time? 

It becomes clear that destruction can be accomplished either quickly or slowly depending upon our resources and evaluation of what is appropriate. However, construction cannot be accomplished as quickly - it requires a greater investment of time and effort.

Recently I watched a NOVA program about musical savants. These people have phenomenal musical minds and excellent talent for playing music on an instrument. What was striking was the apparent ease for these people to hear and assimilate music in their minds - to have an understanding of music and appreciation of it that surpasses most people, yet still require the time-consuming, painstaking investment in practicing the motor skills and keying to actually produce their own music.

Within the psychology field there are tools, hypnosis and NLP for example, which may quickly eliminate negative "programming" in the mind. However, even with the use of these powerful tools of change there are no published examples of people quickly being "programmed" to become virtuoso piano players, or world-class soccer players or anything of that sort. Those stations in life possessed of high levels of talent and skill have been earned one tiny piece at a time over the course of weeks, months and years.

So may we conclude that quick, sweeping change is possible and sometimes appropriate for "negative", aspects of change such as the removal of destructive habits and beliefs etc? And that for building skills and habits of significance, it takes an investment of effort combined with extended periods of time?

Correctly understanding the reality of change ultimately saves us time by using the appropriate approach when facilitating change in our lives.



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