How You Define Yourself Affects Successful Change

How you define yourself affects success in planned change.

How do you define yourself? Have you ever stopped to think about it?

The Story You Tell Yourself

Pay attention to the narrative you tell yourself about yourself. That voice in your head tells you a lot of stories about yourself throughout the day.  All day, every day. As you pay attention to these stories, you may be surprised. You might even be dismayed.

The narrative you tell yourself about yourself has a bigger impact than you may realize. It conveys to you how you define yourself. How you define yourself affects your success in navigating any changes that you are planning to undertake.

For example, the narrative that you tell yourself about yourself may have caused you to define yourself as:

  • a hero
  • a victim
  • a self-sacrificing person devoted to being of service
  • a team player
  • a follower
  • a leader
  • a martyr
  • an overcomer

I am not referring to a role here. I am highlighting examples of what people might define themselves as via the narrative they tell themselves about themselves.

Most people that I know want to undertake something to change in their own life at some point. It may be to be more prosperous, lose weight, have better relationships, be more fit. Are there changes you’d like to make in your life right now?

Now imagine the person whose narrative has led them to define themselves as a victim or as a self sacrificer, or as a martyr. Imagine the effect of the self-definition on whether the change can be successful.

On the other hand, imagine a person whose narrative has led them to define themselves as a leader. Imagine the effect of the self-definition on whether the change can be successful.

How Do You Define Yourself?

If the person develops an awareness of their narrative, the narrative that has led to the definition of themselves, then the work of change is to choose a different narrative. If the narrative becomes one of a life of overcoming obstacles, the self-definition is one of being an overcomer. Now, imagine the overcomer undertaking a change in their life such as improved relationships. It is more likely to be a success story. A key to successful personal change is to change the narrative that you tell yourself about yourself.

How Organizations Define Themselves

The same applies to a team or a whole organization. What is the narrative that the team or whole organization tells itself about itself? Pay attention to how this narrative actually defines the team or organization. That narrative leads to that particular definition of itself and this has a profound impact on whether that team or organization can successfully get itself through change.

You guessed it. The work of the team leader, the leader of the organization, and/or the consultant is to help the team or organization change its narrative about itself. For example, if the narrative has been one of being overworked and undervalued, the likelihood of successfully going through a change process is small. If the group is assisted in creating a different narrative, for example, one in which it is proud of its accomplishments and accepts that it always rises to do what is needed, the likelihood of successfully getting through change is much higher.

It is not the narrative itself that blocks successful navigation through change. It is the self-definition that arises and is strengthened by the narrative. To improve the situation, we don’t work on the self-definition, we work to adjust the narrative. A new self-definition follows the new narrative. From the new self-definition, success in navigating through a change process, personally, as a team, as an organization, is more likely.

Photo Credit: John Hain from Pixabay

Birgitt Williams
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Birgitt Williams is an international management and organizational solutions consultant, author, meeting facilitator, teacher, keynote speaker and executive coach. Her business focus is to create inspiring work environments that are highly effective in achieving their purpose and fulfilling their vision.

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