Disturb your old spirits!

Corporate transformations depend on individual changes. Most of the time, employees are stuck in old patterns, inhibiting necessary developments. This does not have to be the case. Use one of the most successful processes to change your behavior effectively and sustainably - in just 5 steps.

Transformations change the demands on employees and leaders at the same time. The latter, for example, tell me that they are worried about their impact in the system. Because everything is changing rapidly, their previous patterns of thinking and acting are falling short. They are looking for a way out.

A practical suggestion is provided by Adult Development Theory, which goes back primarily to Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey. It states that people develop through stages of consciousness, that is, that the degree of their “adulthood” is expressed by how they perceive themselves in the environment and interact with it. Here I present the three most common levels of consciousness, as they show up in my leadership coaching sessions:

Recognizing levels of consciousness

A “socialized mind“ always explains its existence and effect in dependence of a certain reference group, which it has to support and protect. It is oriented towards minimizing punishment, following rules and also ensuring that rules are followed without questioning them. Leaders at this level of consciousness tend to vote broadly on decisions, to seek compromise to avoid exclusion from the community.

A “self-authored mind“ sees itself in the driver seat of its own life. It pursues its own plan, its own intentions, and uses resources to achieve its goals. It sees conflict as a necessary and unavoidable consequence. Leaders at this level of consciousness understand their environment as a space of opportunities to shape their path, move things in their direction, and leave a recognizable footprint.

Finally, a “self-transforming mind“ sees itself as a kind of incubator for developments that are bigger than itself. It shapes frameworks and leads conversations that are oriented toward a “big picture.” Leaders at this level of consciousness promote the self-movement of all system elements and at the same time ensure a common alignment of these movements. In doing so, they take themselves out of the equation and create impact through themselves.

Enable vertical development

Levels of consciousness shape behavior. This is exactly where the development process elaborated by the two authors (and Harvard professors) comes in: It does not promote further skills (so-called up-skilling or Horizontal Development), but expands an individual’s self-awareness (so-called Vertical Development). Because it is behavioral patterns of one level of consciousness that prevent our further development to another level. We recognize this, for example, in the fact that despite the best intentions we show old patterns again and again (controlling employees, avoiding conflicts, preferring to do everything ourselves, focusing on operational instead of strategic, …) - in short: We are immune to (intended) changes, because we want to protect ourselves from possible injuries and damage. And so we hold on to the known, although transformations expect something completely different from us. Our own protective spirits slow us down.

Immunity To Change Coaching

That’s why we call the work on the levels of consciousness Immunity To Change Coaching - ITC Coaching for short. It is designed to uncover and overcome the immunity to change just described. I have been using ITC Coaching frequently and successfully since I completed the two ITC continuing education courses in 2011 and 2013. The liberating effect of this process on my clients fascinates me every time anew. That’s why I would like to describe this *5-step process *to you now.

Step 1/5 “What do you want / should / need to get better at?” It’s change goals that involve more or less of something that we particularly struggle with. This goal must be really important to you, lead to a significant and above all concrete improvement. Formulate it positively.

Step 2/5 “What behavior do you successfully use to avoid achieving your goal (from Step 1)?” Write down all your avoidance tactics - your self-sabotage. If necessary, consult peers or friends about this. A list of about 5 items is perfectly adequate. At this point, many coachees think that you simply have to do the opposite in order to reach your goal. But if this were so easy, they would have done it themselves long ago. The causes of non-achievement lie much deeper.

Step 3/5 - Part 1 “What fears rise up in you if you were no longer allowed to use these tactics (from Step 2)?” Consistently go through your list from Step 2 and identify your worries, fears and anxieties. This step takes you into your subconscious mind and into the world of your (old) ghosts. Expect that these will not like to be disturbed and you will feel increasingly uncomfortable. For it is now your turn to deprive these ghosts of their right to exist.

Step 3/5 - Part 2 Now look through your worries (from Part 1) and search for a common denominator, for the story behind them. What behavior can you use to avoid these worries? This is how you find their hidden target and thus your personal immune system that resists your development intentions. The immune system feels about like you have one foot on the gas pedal and the other foot on the brake pedal at the same time: you stop.

Step 4/5 “Now suppose that you could no longer pursue this hidden goal. What do you think would happen to you then?” With this question, you bring to light an important and essential building block from your subconscious: your beliefs. They provide their hidden target with the power to oppose you and their developmental intentions.

Step 5/5 Unfortunately, beliefs cannot be dissolved simply by thinking about them. They have become deeply ingrained in your behavior patterns. There is only one way to overcome them: Define concrete (small, careful) experiments that show you that a certain belief is not true (anymore). Your new experiences will help you overwrite that belief set. As a result, your hidden goal loses resistance and the chance increases that you will actually achieve your development goal. By dissolving beliefs, you move to the next level of consciousness and will be able to behave differently - and, for example, regain the leadership you thought you had lost.

This process is an impressive demonstration of how closely corporate development and personal development are interwoven. One hardly succeeds without the other.

Do you feel like “trying yourself out”? Do you want to go through this process and dissolve your old ghosts? Then contact me for an ITC Coaching. Benefit from my years of experience and open the gates to a true (vertical) development.

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