When I get better at….. exercise

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An HBR blog by Marshall Goldsmith had me thinking, here is what the blog said:

… He has a wonderful exercise that helps people isolate the pattern that makes the most sense to change, because it helps people figure out the benefits of change. This is how he helps people decide whether change is worth it: Five to eight people sit around a table, and each person selects one practice to change. One person begins the exercise by saying: “When I get better at…” and completes the sentence by mentioning one benefit that will accompany this change. For example, one person may say: “When I get better at being open to differing opinions, I will hear more great ideas.”

After everyone has had a chance to discuss their specific behavior and the first benefit, the cycle begins again. Now each person mentions a second benefit that may result from changing the same behavior, then a third, continuing usually for six to eight rounds. Finally, participants discuss what they have learned and their reactions to the exercise.

Nathaniel and I were facilitators at a large conference that included many well-known leaders from corporations, nonprofits, the government, and the military. The man sitting next to me was a high-ranking military leader directly responsible for thousands of troops. He also was extremely judgmental and seemed to be proud of it. For example, when conference participants discussed the topic of character, he said: “I respect people with real character — and organizations, like mine, with real values. I don’t believe in this situational crap!”

When we began Nathaniel’s exercise, our military friend chose: “When I become less judgmental…” as his behavior to change. I was skeptical about his sincerity and thought his participation in the exercise would be interesting to observe. True to my expectations, the first time around he coughed and grunted a sarcastic comment rather than talk about a real benefit. The second time around he was even more cynical. Then something changed. When he described a third potential benefit, he stopped being sarcastic. Several rounds later, he had tears in his eyes, and said: “When I become less judgmental, maybe my children will speak to me again.”

Since that day, I have conducted this exercise with several thousand people. Many start with benefits that are “corporately correct,” such as: “This change will help my company make more money,” and finally end with benefits that are more human, such as: “This change will make me a better person.” I will never forget one hard-driving executive who chose: “When I get better at letting go” as the behavior he should work on. His first benefit was that his direct reports would take more responsibility. His final benefit was that he would probably live to celebrate his 60th birthday.

Now, it’s your turn to pick a behavior pattern that you may want to change. Complete the sentence: “When I get better at…” over and over again. Listen closely as you recite potential benefits. You will be amazed at how quickly you can determine whether this change is worth it for you.

Well as the blog asked me to I thought what would I have said and I came up with

When I get better at asking for what I deserve at workplace

I will not be taken for granted.

My team will also feel good about me when I expect their undivided working with me, and no pooling.

I will not be jealous or envious of other people getting what I did not.

I will be enjoying better facilities.

I will be seen as confident and assertive.

I will not be trampled upon by others.

I will not be a victim of office politics.

I will get my due.

I will feel motivated to work harder if I get what I ask for.

I will ensure a place and image for myself in organisation.

I will be able to speak about my work and responsibilities while asking for what I deserve.

With a better self-image, I will project a better image.

Wow, listing really feels good.

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