How to Shift AWARENESS to Changed BEHAVIOR

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Imagine you have toxic, disengaged (quiet quitting) behaviors in your workplace. Everything you read and measure shows this negatively impacts your growth, profitability, and reputation. The facts confirm that the effective people in your organization are personally responsible and fully engaged. This means irresponsible thinking and behaving must change. The question becomes: How do I get toxic and disengaged people to change their mindsets AND behavior? In my work helping organizations and individuals adopt responsibility-based ways of operating, the most challenging and crucial path to success is shifting your people from awareness to managing and changing their behavior.

Knowing that one is always capable of change, the second step lies in making the decision to change. Change does not occur by merely willing it any more than behavior changes simply through insight.

Leo Buscaglia, Educator, Author, Speaker


Many Would Rather AVOID Behavior Change

Once you recognize that the most effective people are those who accept responsibility for their behavior and own all of their tasks, the question then becomes ‘how do I help ALL my people do this?’ In our culture model, transfer of responsibility to people so they pick it up, is the essence of leadership development in ALL. They adopt task ownership; managing their own relationships, productivity, engagement, and progress.

“We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing.”

– Henry Cloud, Leadership Expert, Author, Psychologist


What are some barriers (and solutions) to shifting from awareness to changed behavior? Here are a few:

  • Analysis Paralysis: Wikipedia describes this as “an individual or group process where overanalyzing or overthinking (I add over-speaking) a situation can cause forward motion or decision-making to become “paralyzed”, meaning that no solution or course of action is decided upon within a natural time frame.” Often this is re-hashing the details of a story, justifying a current position, blaming others, gossip, and speaking fearfully about the discomfort of changing one’s mind and behavior. Solution: Create structures (for us, this is our mentoring process and how to apply tools) that prohibit naming names, telling stories, or justifying the status quo. In our mentoring and mediation strategies, we help people interrupt these and instead promote responsibility with What, How and When questions rather than Why (analysis) or Who (blaming) questions. This sounds like, “What will you do?” “How will you do it?” and “When will you put your plan into play?”
  • Blaming and Justifying: Samuel Arbesman in his popular quote on change blindness says: Most of us don’t want to go out of our way to change (put in the effort) nor do we want to consider that our current ways of thinking and behaving need to be upgraded. Our egoic selves would rather blame and justify instead. Solution: Help people identify and listen to their better angels. For us this is two-fold. First, help them choose and focus on intention and purpose; meaningful change they commit to cause. This shifts them from fear and self-protection, to love and contribution. The latter inspires determination and courage to go out of one’s way and upgrade. Second, help them recognize what Cloud intimates, “We avoid change until pain motivates us” by teaching them costs (e.g., burnout, stress, anxiety, depression, loss) for blaming and justifying.
  • Procrastination: If I can talk endlessly about taking new actions, I can procrastinate in actually doing so. I see that even in circumstances where people have created psychological safety and new skills, the step of putting something new in motion is similar to a child being afraid to jump off the diving board. Like dieting, the idea is, “I’ll start tomorrow.” We call this consciously incompetent and unhelpful. While some time is needed to build courage and conviction, the most helpful thing we can do is support the shift to occur. This is when we most help others hold themselves accountableSolution: As Buscaglia says above in essence, “Knowing we are capable of change is only step one; we must decide to change.” The greatest solution for procrastination is reminding others that barriers have been cleared, support is present, and they alone are standing in the way of progress. This combined with encouragement, empowers others to ‘take the leap.’

Emotional and social intelligence requires each of us move from self- and social- awareness to self- and social- management. Doing so is what actualizes positive change. This is where what’s ‘in the head’ becomes ‘lived in the heart and actions’ of each person. This is where the rubber meets the road, where the proof is in the pudding and where you and your organization accomplish great things! If you feel you need help with this, we are experts in helping people shift from awareness alone to changed behavior, for full engagement, high performance and deep fulfillment. My intention is to create a world in which all people love their lives. Let me know if I can help you experience this in your organization!

This article is published in Judy’s column The Extraordinary Workplace produced by the St. Louis Small Business Monthly, in March 2023.

Why People Hire LifeWork Systems

Business owners and executives, community leaders, parents, educators and individuals hire LifeWork Systems because they know that effective conditions and conversations make all the difference in building trusting relationships, achieving dreams, and creating solutions and innovations for our evolving world. When people are happy and responsible, emotionally and socially intelligent, confident, and appropriately seen, heard, and supported, they always exceed expectations. We help instill into every person common concepts, terms, tools, and processes that result in healthy, happy, caring and contributing individuals, teams and organizations. Our mission is to create a world in which all people love their lives!

We appreciate you being here on our website and encourage you to reach out to us directly at or  314.239.4727. May something we offered in this article and website help you love YOUR life ~ because YOU matter!

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