A Pattern of Personal Transformation-Part II

man celebrating

In my last post, I introduced the following pattern of personal transformation:

Steps in Personal Transformation

In a nutshell, here are the steps:

Step One: Wake up
(be fully present, alert and conscious of what is happening)

Step Two: Take accountability
(claim ownership rather than living from blame and excuses)

Step Three: Interrupt old patterns
(refuse to get sucked into habitual, weakening ways of acting)

Step Four: Clarify a new vision
(know what is most important, what you want to attract or create in your life)

Step Five: Make new choices
(be willing to act, based on your vision, rather than react)

Step Six: Practice and persist
(make new behaviors habitual through repetition)

In practice, these steps are interrelated and overlapping. The boundaries between them are not always distinct and they don’t necessarily occur in a linear sequence. For example, embedded within awareness are the seeds of accountability. Interrupting a negative pattern sometimes occurs quite naturally as we create a compelling vision. And so on.

Each principle is a piece of the puzzle of personal change, of learning to handle our key moments in better and more empowering ways.

In personal transformation, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Each principle is “at play” in a single event. Here is an example, from The Hero’s Choice, of Hal’s interaction with Kathy as he entered their bedroom, intent on making things right and communicating with his wife in a new way.

An Example

Kathy was propped up on the bed, a pile of tests lying on the bedspread.

“Mind if I have a seat?” he asked, timidly.

She shrugged, making no move to put down the test she was correcting.

He sat on the love seat in the bay window facing the bed. As he opened his mouth to speak, he realized just how much humility was going to be required to accept personal responsibility. He would have to give up his pride, his need to “win.” Abandon his self-justifying thoughts and the urge to defend his ego. Earlier in the day, this had seemed like an exciting idea, but at the moment, he felt vulnerable. He wanted to turn and walk away.

“I owe you a huge apology for not calling Sam and my father today.”

Kathy rolled her eyes.

“I know you’re mad at me, and I can’t blame you.” She continued looking down at her test. Several seconds passed before he spoke again. “Do you want me to leave?”

Kathy tossed the test from her lap onto the bed and glared. “I knew you wouldn’t call your father. The moment I left this morning. Words! That’s all they were.”

“That was wrong of me, Kathy. I know that. I made a promise and didn’t keep it.” (pp. 126-127)

Awareness, accountability, breaking old patterns, a clear vision, a willingness to make new choices, persistence. Hal spontaneously drew upon each of the six principles as he deliberately created a new dynamic in this event with his wife. The outcome of the evening was wholeness within and a new found trust in his relationship with Kathy.

Hal and Kathy talked well into the night. Then he lay awake thinking, long after Kathy had fallen asleep. Astonished and grateful. (p. 132)

Another Key Moment

Likewise, all of the principles were at play as Hal faced another key moment—the follow up board meeting with his partners.

Hal looked around the room. The only encouraging glance came from Janine. “I’d like to begin by acknowledging that this is an awkward moment for all of us,” he said. “You probably dreaded my coming here tonight. I’ve certainly felt my share of anxiety and apprehension. I want you to know I don’t intend to make this difficult. I don’t hold any animosity or grudges toward any of you. My intention is to work things out in a way that’s best for all of us.”

“Enough of the speech-making, Stratton,” said Charlie. “That’s not why we’re here. What’s your answer to our offer?”

Hal looked Charlie squarely in the eye. “I mean no one ill intent, Charlie, including you. The last thing I want tonight is to get into a power struggle. But I will speak frankly. I started this company. I served as the managing partner for seven years. I brought each of you into the business, and I’m an equal partner at this table. I’ve earned the right to share a few words with you before I answer.”

Charlie’s expression showed how rare it was for him to be challenged. “Well, make it quick. You’re wasting our time.” (p.204)

How different from the evening he was fired when he lacked personal awareness, a willingness or ability to be accountable, act from a higher vision, make new choices, etc.

Opportunities to Grow

An important lesson in life is that our key moments, our adversities, present our greatest opportunities for personal transformation. Initially devastated, Hal learned valuable lessons from being fired that eventually allowed him to find wholeness and goodwill, a level of meaning and fulfillment that he had not heretofore imagined. Of course, the experience alone was not enough. Lots of people go through difficult times and fail to learn or grow. Hal grew because he learned to step up to his life in new ways as defined by each of the steps of transformation.

I want to invite you to be aware of this pattern as you face the challenges of your life. Are you willing to be aware of what is happening, both within and around you? Be accountable for your part? Break old patterns of thinking and reacting? Clarify a new vision? Make new, empowering choices? Practice and persist, even when the going gets tough? If so, you’ll make great progress. It won’t be easy. You’ll experience plenty of setbacks. And you’ll also discover a great sense of personal power, meaning, and joy as you take destiny into your own hands and learn that what is biggest is not “out there” but inside you.


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