Did you know 508 million people speak English? While English ranks second to Mandarin (1 billion+) it is the official language of more countries than any other language.
However, the American traveler’s opening question remains, “Do you speak English?”
Language is important
Everyday we use language to express how we feel, what we desire, or we seek understanding. We set expectations, solve problems, and innovate.
To speak your mother tongue is relatively easy, right? You grew up hearing and studying it. You “should” be able to communicate. But to acquire a second language takes effort. The process to learn another language is called – drum role, please – second-language acquisition.
Changing first nature
Change requires a process like learning a second-language does. A breakthrough requires the use of your ability and willingness to learn and change. The reward of positive change arrives when old habits are replaced with new ones. The new habits which support your success.
Consider these four phases of transformation: desire, discipline, determination, and delight.
- Desire – How bad do you want it?
Desire for change grows as your desperation increases. The seed is sown when you recognize, “Something has to change.” People have a high pain tolerance, which means it will take a while before desperation produces desire.
Understanding enhances this desire. Desire grows, as you comprehend the benefits of change. You get it. You want it.
- Discipline – What you must do
Discipline is a systematic method that supports the desired change. Ingrained behavior can be stubborn; behavior changes for the diligent who give thought to their ways.
- Determination – How willing are you to fight for it?
The resistance is real – whether internal or external – so it will take grit, resolve, willpower, support, and accountability. Changing behavior will take practice … three steps forward, two back.
- Delight – What’s the promise?
Deep satisfaction is the icing on the cake. The benefits and rewards of the new behavior are enjoyed. You love the results of your new habit, which supports your new behavior … it becomes second nature.
It’s second nature
With that promotion comes the challenge: you must move from being hands on and technically driven to leading people. How do you have influence with a new team member or new boss? How do set expectations with a disengaged employee? Pressures mount from unnecessary turnover and budget shortfalls.
Leading people will squeeze the worst out of you not your best. Old habits, first nature behavior, old school tactics, control issues and fear-based thinking lead to unproductive behavior.
Delight arrives, as the new behavior becomes second nature. You listen. You ask more and tell less. You ask opened questions. You pause and breathe before you act. You delegate. You stop and think and help others do the same … its become second nature.
Your personal influence expands. You experience less conflict and unnecessary stress. You see increased engagement leading to high productivity. Work gets done and it’s fun, again.
Yes, speaking your first nature language is easy …its what you know and what got you “here.” But to get “there” you must acquire new behaviors and habits until they become second nature. That’s what self-managed leaders do.
By the way, “Do you speak Spanish?”
Here’s to your breakthrough in 2014,