Friday, February 27, 2004

Making success possible

possibly part of a column someday, but not today, so this is as good a place as any for it.

At a certain point in our lives, we all recognize that change is difficult. No matter how dearly we want to change some part of our lives, it seems that something always interferes, some wrench is always thrown into the works.

About twenty years ago, I was privileged to take a class at the Sloan School of Management taught by Richard Beckhard, one of the most highly respected organizational consultants in the country. The theme of the class was managing organizational change. Although the principals we discussed were geared towards implementing change in large social and business groups, they can just as easily be applied to changes we want to make in our personal lives.

The most common reason that change fails is unrealistic expectations. Beckhard laid out for us a set of rules that seems almost too simple to work, and so much like common sense that you have to wonder why everyone doesn’t just know how to do these things instinctively. But given the success of Beckhard’s practice, and the high rate of failure all around us, it’s obvious that common sense is not that common. So, here’s my distillation of Beckhard’s rules for successfully implementing change, as applied to a personal situation:

1. Imagine what your life will be like when the change has been successfully implemented. This isn’t a daydream, but a concrete goal. Be as detailed about it as you can. Will you still have the same job, home, car, wardrobe, diet, eating habits, shopping habits? What exactly are you trying to change? Nail it down as much as you can.

2. Now, examine your life now and pay special attention to the areas that you have targeted for change.

3. The hard part: map out a plan for getting from your “Before” to your “After”. This is where most people fall short, because their plans are not realistic. A good plan, one that you can actually follow, makes small changes that accumulate over time to help you reach your goal.

4. Implement the plan. The best of intentions go astray, but if your plan is doable, your chances for success are a lot higher. Once you’ve laid out an actual plan, the idea of change seems much more manageable, so go out and do it!


OK, here's my scenario: write a syndicated newspaper column
Here's my plan:
1) define the column and its goals -- done
2) publish at least 6 columns online, if possible, to establish "brand", get the name out there, and, most importantly, provide the all-important "clips" (the journalistic equivalent of "street cred".)
3) write 10 columns for marketing to newspapers (half way there)
4) put together marketing packages and send them out (lots left to do here)
5) set up a website to handle correspondence related to the column and as a marketing support tool (I've made a good start, here)

So -- I have to write 5 more columns, and put together my packets and start mailing, mailing, mailing. I'm wondering what is going on with LCL Magazine and if it will be published again, but if it's not, that's not my fault, and even though I've only had one column published so far, I did get a nice amount of feedback.

Head down, nose to grindstone, all that.
(Oh yeah, my freelance job picks up next week, too. At least I have some income to offset all the office supply and postage expenses I'm about to incur.) Hee!

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