Actualized Leadership: What is Transformational Change?

“Change is inevitable; growth is optional.”
John C. Maxwell

“Your darkest fear often carries your greatest potential.”

Welcome to my blog on personal growth, transformation, and self-actualization.  I decided to write this blog to help support a number of people I know who are dedicated to personal growth.  Today, this group includes members of various organizations and many current and former graduate students whom I’ve had the privilege of working with over the years.  Most importantly, this blog is being published now to support my colleagues and teammates at EnPro Industries who continue to challenge and honor me with their work toward fulfilling our “dual bottom line” by manifesting their fullest potential.

When you hear the word “transformation” what comes to mind?  Is it something positive like opportunity or growth?  Or, is it something negative like loss or fear?  We hear the word used a lot today, but few of us really understand what it means.  Fewer still seek to embrace or experience it.

Let’s start by defining transformation, which is the “dramatic change in someone or something’s form or appearance.”  Transformational change is expansive, not incremental; revolutionary, not evolutionary.  This definition can apply to many things: people, organizations, political institutions, economies, and the like.  Since our focus is on human growth and potential, let’s be a bit more specific.  For our purposes, let’s define transformational change as follows:

A dramatic change in one’s mindset brought on by profound insight and awareness.

There are some key elements in this definition that warrant explanation.  We understand the dramatic, revolutionary aspect of transformational change, but what exactly is “mindset?”  Mindset is known by many names: worldview, attitude, mental model, and the like.  Essentially, it is the paradigm or filter you use both consciously and unconsciously that determines how you perceive the world and, as a result, your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.  Think of it as the lens you use to see the world.  We all experience the world through our own unique lens.  Often times, we are unaware of our lens until experience an obstacle or pattern of setbacks that forces us to ask ourselves: “What if it’s not everybody else? What if it’s me?”  Such questions often lead to the kind of deep self-awareness and reflective work necessary to identify and change your lens or mindset.  This transformation may occur as a process over a lifetime, or in a moment’s flash of insight and awareness.

A very good Book says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2).  There’s not a whole lot left to add to this profound insight. We can only experience a dramatic and lasting shift when we are willing to examine and change our mindset.

It sounds easy, but as you may well know it’s very difficult.  This difficulty is because self-awareness – profound and deep awareness – is very often painful. We avoid this “deep-end-of-the-pool” awareness by confusing it with referring to our strengths or, worse still, trying to cleverly twist a negative into a positive.  For example, folks who claim to be self-aware and profess that they “work too hard” or “love too much” are treading in the shallow end of the self-awareness-pool.

True self-awareness disturbs.  Profound self-awareness disrupts.  And although we are awakened to our true potential in this disturbance, many of us avoid this opportunity for growth.  We will examine why we evade this process in my next post, “The Myth of Self-Awareness” and begin to outline strategies to help find the courage to swim in the deep end of the self-awareness-pool.  After all, summer is just around the corner … maybe it’s time to take the plunge!

1 Comment

  1. Bob Freese

    Great intro to the Blogs! Very positive and encouraging.


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