How 3 Phases Chronicle A Journey Through Change

A personal triumph is how I summarized my performance as I drove along open fields of wildflowers across the Michigan expanse.

There was an incredible sense of fulfillment following the session that day, having overcome anxious beginnings from a few months prior to master delivery of intensely strategic, technical content.

Confidence in my ability to adapt learning to multiple environments and to curate an experience promoted a similar level of confidence among participants.

The frightful had become fun while working through the 3 Phases of Change: Awareness, Awakening, and Acceptance.

When provided a glimpse into your natural strength, something you are inherently good at, the possibilities can be overwhelming. Contemplating the impact of this newfound potential had kindled impatience, an unsettling desire to begin the next project as soon as possible.

I wanted to do more.

Bringing Yourself

The backstory to the “Summer of Change” draws attention to the enormous potential found within a naturally occurring process in human behavior.

I trusted the original intention behind a change. When given the opportunity to explore methods for influencing the behavior of others, a new and engaging style emerged.

That style transformed my perspective, surpassing a pedestrian application of Being Yourself and moving into Bringing Yourself to an endeavor or environment.

This resonated with participants, enhancing not only retention of material, but practical application following introductory sessions. People began using little reminders infused in the presentation to help them remember critical steps.

For example, once completing an action within the new software program, there was a little blue “Back” button that finalized each step in the process. It was an easily overlooked step within the sequence, due in part to the size and placement of the hyperlink. There were few if any participants that were connecting to its importance.

Chris Berman was a popular personality on ESPN, doing both studio commentary and play-by-play announcing for Major League Baseball games. Whenever a batter hit the ball deep toward the outfield wall, Chris would launch into a rapid cadence of “Back, back, back, back” in his iconic voice until the ball was either caught or landed safely.

This became my cue to remind participants of the requirement to click the Back button. Each time we came to that spot in the slide presentation, I would ask “What do we need to do now?” Baseball fans or not, the class would recite in unison, “Back, back, back, back.” What was intended as a substitute for the live action of the software soon became a learning trigger that people held onto.

Programs became memorable for all the right reasons, none of which referenced survival or the ability to stay awake.

3 Phases of Change

If given the opportunity to flow unimpeded, the 3 Phases of Change trace a journey that strengthens the connection between the purpose of change and resulting behavior.

While each Phase warrants its own deep dive, a general overview will start us down that path:


Conscious recognition that change is being proposed or has occurred

Leadership Focus: Enable

Behavioral Objective: Individual trust in the logic or motivation for change

Awareness is cognitive recognition that your comfort level is about to be rocked in some way, shape, or fashion.

Expect a reaction . . . that’s what change is for.

Enabling your team with the tools and resources necessary for a successful transition (including transparent communication) will establish trust from the beginning. Recognize that a change may extend beyond professional commitments to impact personal plans and aspirations.

Any mistrust or uncertainty (a lack of or inconsistent communication) will stall transition and delay the expected change in behavior.


Revival of interest for the reasoning and value of change

Leadership Focus: Empower

Behavioral Objective: Promote empowerment to build self-trust and confidence in the benefit of change

Something has changed, and whether Awareness has trended positive or negative, the details must be embraced and incorporated into future behavior.

Resistance may continue through the initial portion of Awakening. Set clear expectations and accompanying commitments for new behaviors.

People will seek equilibrium, an end to the emotional chaos and confusion. This fight for survival or natural resilience can generate incredible levels of creativity and ingenuity. Some really crazy stuff may happen during Awakening, don’t miss it.

Self-trust begins to surface through a sense of empowerment and belief in the future state.


Assent to the reality of change

Leadership Focus: Engage

Behavioral Objective: Empathic Empowerment accompanies full transition and trust in the value of change

Individuals ascend to expected levels of behavior having accepted the realities of change.

This phase can inspire growth and development, given the promise of something new and the freedom to explore performance beyond the expected.

If fully engaged in the process, a sense of accomplishment will linger beyond Acceptance, prompting enthusiasm for the next change, a longing to do “more”.

Note: Every change, however basic or routine, will work through these linear phases. It may take 15 seconds, 15 minutes, 15 days, weeks, months, or years . . . depending in the scope of change and the relationship you share with your team.

Tall Tim Example

The forecast has almost doubled for Saturday morning. Although the schedule was published last week, you need to add another person for the AM Shift. You approach Susie on Thursday . . .

“Susie, our forecast for Saturday morning has gone way up, almost double. I have to add someone to the schedule, just to be safe. I apologize for such late notice, but can you cover the shift?”

Susie questions, “Can’t someone else cover? I’m supposed to take Denise to ballet that morning and then go to a birthday party later that afternoon.”

Maintaining a calm and patient demeanor, you respond, “I completely understand, and again apologize for the late request. I wouldn’t dream of asking if you weren’t my only option.

Susie turns her head away, visibly concerned with what she’s being asked to do.

You continue, “I only need help with the initial rush, you’ll probably be free by Noon. I promise as soon as the wave subsides, you’ll be the first to go.”

Susie pauses for a moment, thinking to herself: “Well, I guess Linda could take Denise to ballet. If I’m out by Noon, that will give me time to go home, change, then drive Denise and Tommy Jr. to the party. Plus, I could use the extra hours to help with the bills.”

She turns to you and says, “Okay, I’ll do it.”

Review: Read the example a second time. How long did it take you? I timed myself at 28 seconds.

In less than half a minute, Susie was able to work through Awareness (My schedule changed), Awakening (I have things to do, but options to make it work) and Acceptance (I’ll do it).

This successful change process reflected a level of trust between you and Susie. When you admitted to having tried every possible solution, she believed you and could work through the change herself.

Imagine if that trust wasn’t present, or the change was communicated something more to the effect of “I need you to work on Saturday. Period.”

Chances are, you’d be the one covering the shift that morning.

One Final Note

Consider the immense change our world is currently working through.

While some may see themselves in varying cycles between Awareness and Awakening, without question it will take years for society to truly experience Acceptance.

Remember . . . it is a linear process.

The moment highlighted from my Summer of Change traced transformative change over a four month period which included:

  • the launch of new, innovative software (Awareness),
  • featured a six hour, 306-slide presentation introducing Operational Leaders to new tasks and additional responsibilities (Awakening), and
  • resulted in a renewed sense of self, a spirit of authenticity invested in each learning activity moving forward (Acceptance).

The exact transitions between phases can be blurry. Sometimes you won’t know you have reached Acceptance until you take that step back to assess the journey, measuring how much you’ve adapted and grown from the overall experience.

Whether a leader or participant, that is something worth celebrating.

As I pulled away from the resort that afternoon, “Stranglehold” by Ted Nugent began playing on the radio.

Nothing like a musical escort from the Motor City Madman himself, while driving through his own backyard, to celebrate the end of a perfect day.

Thanks for spending your Tuesday with Tall Tim Talks!

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