How to Eat the Pie of Change: Slice 1 “Create”

26 August 2015

Successful leaders usually believe that they do not need to change that much. After all, they are already successful. However, while they have many things going for them, there are often just a few areas in which their behaviour needs adjustment – and those few areas impact their overall image in other people’s eyes.

The business leaders we work with are successful and their organisations are doing well. These people come to us because they want to do even better. They want their businesses and teams to achieve more. They believe that they need to change their behaviours in order to make that happen.

While it is true that there are a number of deeper areas of identity to consider, the truth is, most of the time, there are behaviours that need to change. What most business professionals do not realise is that changing behaviour is rarely easy – but it can be a lot simpler than they think.

One of my consultant, Marshall Goldsmith, explained a useful concept for this that I like to call the Pie of Change. This is a chart that I have used with many of my business coaching clients and it always produces some excellent results.

This pie is divided into four slices along two axes. One goes from “negative” to “positive” and the other goes from “keep” to “change”. When you map out your behavioural change this way, we can see that there are 4 options you need to consider:

  1. When there are positive things that you will need to change so that they can be introduced, these are things you “Create“.
  2. Positive things you already have in your life and are worth keeping are the things you need to “Preserve
  3. Negative elements of your life that you can change is where you need to “Eliminate
  4. Finally, the negative parts that must be kept for whatever reason are when you need to “Accept

In this series of blog posts, we will explore each of these options and how each of them is necessary – while one of them is the most difficult, especially for driven business owners.

Slice 1, “Create”: The Fun One

This is the part of the pie that got the best of the filling and almost every business owner hungrily gobbles it down. This is where you get to imagine the parts of yourself that could be better and work on moving towards that. I have observed how most of my clients really light up when I talk about this idea. That is because the instinct of almost any driven and successful business owner is to constantly improve – constantly do better (which is not always a good thing – but we will talk about that in another slice of this pie).

The irony is that the urge and instinct to create is not something that comes naturally to us. Most human beings find it difficult to accept change – so many of us get comfortable with doing more when, really, we need to start being more. When something has been working long enough, we tend to become satisfied and comfortable. There is no real pressure or urgency to achieve more, so why would we put in that effort?

The Challenge of Creating

Here is where the challenge in eating this slice comes in: create positive change in your behaviour by choice not necessity. When sales are down, making changes to your business in order to generate more sales is a change you are making out of necessity.

However, if your sales are steady and your business is quite comfortably surviving, that is when you can take a look at making changes to generate even more sales, which takes you to a whole new level of success. “Creating” is about focusing on improving the things that are already doing well.

Your Action Point

Of course, this is not limited to just your behaviour in business. The opportunity to make positive changes to your behaviour can be found in every aspect of your life – from improving your health, to changing the way you treat people, to your lifestyle habits. The exercise of behavioural change almost always helps my clients not only with their professional work but has far-reaching effects into their personal lives as well.

Take 15 minutes out of your busy day to stop and think – what aspect of your life could you improve right now? Just choose one thing that you want to make better – and make it something that you do not need to make better, but can make better. Choose one thing to improve and, this week, make that change.

Remember, you can read all the blog articles and all the books but all of that knowledge is useless until you take action. Start with just one change.

Next week, we take the next slice of pie out of the fridge where it has been “Preserved”. Click here to read it.

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