People Do Change

I had a mentor who once said to me, “You can only change people this much.” And then he put his forefinger and thumb together to show it just wasn’t going to happen.

Until recently, I believed him. People are pretty much made by their environments and don’t change much over time.

But now, at my advanced age (and after writing off too many people I thought would be stuck for ever), I’m finding I was wrong. As was my mentor.

People do change.

Here’s how:

  • When they want to
  • When they are close to someone they want to model
  • When they get specific steps to follow and frequent feedback
  • When they are afraid of losing something that is important to them (like their health or their jobs)
  • When philosophy slaps them in the face and reminds them life doesn’t have a rule book, purpose, standards, intelligence, etc. (All the stories that made them believe they were stuck).
  • All the time

Of course, it’s very very hard to get folks out of their contingent, environmental conditioning.

But just knowing it’s all contingent, environment conditioning is so freeing it’s like getting splashed in the face with a bucket of cold water.