newly transformed butterfly

Change and Transformation

“Personal transformation can and does have global effects. As we go, so goes the world, for the world is us. The revolution that will save the world is ultimately a personal one.” – Marianne Williamson

I believe that an individual or an organizations difficulty with managing change comes from the confusion between the terms change and transformation. Not knowing the difference is why we fail at realizing our goals or achieving the results we want.  If we do achieve the goal, it’s often short lived. By understanding the difference we can better manage the actions that need to take place to achieve long lasting success.

The first question one needs to ask is, am I looking to change or transform? There are a lot of articles on philosophical ideas about the differences but I believe they fall short of a pragmatic definition.  On a side note, I believe that change and transformation at a personal and organization level are the same.  There is no question in my mind that an individual who has experienced managing transformation in their life make the greatest leaders in organizations managing change.  For this article I will discuss what I believe is the difference between change and transformation through personal perspective.

Change is the act of focused effort to modify or adjust one area of an individual life.  Transformation happens when change in all the areas of an individuals life occurs to support lasting change in one area.  It is critical that the difference between change and transformation is understood at the individual level. All the areas of an individuals life can be broken wond into what I refer to as the Human System.

The Human System breaks down into three levels are: Personal, Relationship, and Environment.  By taking a deeper look at each of these areas of our life we get a clear picture of how one affects the other and we can create a plan for a balanced approach achieving change that last.

At the personal level people seek to change Physical, Emotional, Spiritual, and Intellectual characteristics.

At the level of Relationships a person seeks to change Personal, Romantic, Social, and Professional interactions.

At an Environmental level people seek to change their Personal Space, Shared Space, Social Space, and Work Space.

If you want to change one area of your life you have to change all the areas of your life that support change in that one area.  If you want the change to be lasting, or sustainable, you must transform.

I believe an area people struggle is in personal health.  Many people focus on weight loss through diet and exercise with short-lived results.  The results are short lived because change usually occurred at a Personal level with diet and exercise.  Diet and exercise can impact all the areas of an individual’s life but the focus is rarely on relationships or environment.  Dieters who don’t tell anyone they are on a diet fail to foster relationships what can offer support and accountability.  Dieters who don’t structure an environment that fosters healthy behavior can fall into traps of habit.  For example dieters may spend hours in front of the TV when a healthier choice may be to go for a walk.  The truth of the matter is we don’t begin to make physical change that last until we change every area of our life to support the lasting change we desire.

Business professionals understand managing change is a systematic process.  When organizations transform they change business structure (environment), policies and procedures (dictate relationships), and they offer training (personal – Intellectual level support).  Where business fails is in their understanding of how transformation affects their associates personal lives.  People struggle through organizational change because they fail to see how change at work impacts their whole life.  By understanding how change in one area of our lives affects all other areas we can create a more comprehensive plan at managing transformation.  That is of course, if transformation is required for change to last.

If you want to change some area of your life, or if some area of your life is changing (environment or relationship), ask yourself, how can I manage each the areas of my life so that I can have the lasting change and transformation I want?