“Change is inevitable. Progress is optional.” Tony Robbins
“If nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies.” Unknown
Are people capable of change? Yes! Can it happen at any age? If they are open to the challenge and are willing to work on such a change, yes again! Think about the ageless story of “Scrooge.” Whether as a metaphor or an example, Mr. Dickens shared the idea of human capacity for change which can be consequential for personal and professional relationships. The message will continue to endure but also be questioned as long as humanity exists.
In 2013, Gallup conducted a poll about the satisfaction of the American worker. They discovered 70 percent were disengaged from their work, and of that group, 18 percent were actively disengaged. To compound this serious issue, the most disengaged spread their attitude towards their more engaged coworkers often undermining those more satisfied employees. This is obviously a problem!
Gallup went on to say that expensive strategies such as providing ping pong tables and expensive lunches had very little long-lasting effects. What they discovered was the obvious to those of us in the people business. If more managers focused on the worker’s strengths and provided positive feedback, Gallup hypothesized the American Worker would double in productivity. Without needing to be stated, this is major!
It sounds like a simple solution, but it is not. As most people recognize, not everyone in management is hired for their people skills. If they were, the issue at hand would be extinguished. Many managers are promoted because of their talent or hard work. If they are difficult, withholding, surly or just inept in dealing with people, excuses are frequently made. We have heard them all. One might be, “Ignore him or her because they are good at their craft.” Another justification could be, “That is just the way he or she is. Do not take it personally.” Finally, “Look he or she is not going to change so just deal with it.” As a person who believes everyone is capable of change, I find such allowances to be not only defeatist but in some way promulgating greater negativity. Alternatively, I posit the following: You can teach an old dog new tricks both literally and figuratively.
Let me introduce you to Biscuit. He is the dog in the photo above. Biscuit is almost seventeen years old. He looks marvelous for his age, doesn’t he? Biscuit is truly an oldie but goody. Last year, after my mother passed away, he came to live with my husband, two dogs and I. We were not sure how it would work out, but it has. Our dogs are well trained, but just in case we miss or they miss, we leave training pads in a certain area of the house. Biscuit was trained but never exposed to pads. We never thought about training him at such an older age so he wears a wrap and is taken outside as often as possible. One day, I see Biscuit meandering over to the training pads. He must have observed our dogs doing the same. Shortly thereafter, I see him walking regularly in that direction when in need. Now you might wonder what the discussion of an ancient dog has to do with this subject. Well, it substantiates the fact you can teach an old dog new tricks. Also, it brings to light the idea of brain malleability even at such a ripe old age. If our canine friends are capable of doing this, what does it say about the potential for humans? With much enthusiasm and optimism, I would say a great deal, and more promising, there is science to validate this. It is referred to as neuroplasticity and has wide implications for humanity. With regard to today’s topic, it reinforces the belief that everyone is capable of change, even an old dog….(To Be Continued)
Crabtree, Steve. “Worldwide, 13% of Employees Are Engaged at Work.” Gallup.com. Gallup, 8, October 2013.