Do you believe that people can actually change? And if you hold out a glimmer of hope for the seemingly “unchangeable” what modality, theory or strategy would you employ?
Very early in Switchback when we were still in the proof of concept stage a seemingly unchangeable man was offered to us, almost as a challenge. For 15 years his work had been substandard and at times reckless to the point that other employees were refusing to work around his machine. This poor fellow knew his job was on the line but so far he had been unsuccessful in changing his way.
In a boardroom meeting his situation was presented and a plan was formulated. We did the simple math, 15 years of negative neurological programming would not be budged with a one hour coaching session twice a month. He needed a neuro-disruptor, something that could give him the chance to break from the old and start anew. We landed on 3 consecutive days of coaching.
Three days, with pay, to change.
This might sound like a big time or money commitment but when you compare this investment with a possible incident involving equipment damage or human injury it became clear to the bosses this was worth a try.
What We Discovered
- Deep self rejection
- Fear of making mistakes
- High anxiety
- Low self worth
- Love of music
How He Retrained His Brain
One of the bright spots in this man’s life was his love for music. All day long he would listen to satellite music while swinging giant logs with his machine. And then it would start.
The second he made the smallest of mistakes, self rejection would kick in and his love of music would be out the window and in its place would be fear, anxiety and self hate. Out of his mouth would come a stream of cuss words all directed at himself. And then the mistakes and cussing would amplify and those around would start to duck for cover.
To retrain his brain he committed to the following: At the first sign of a mistake or smallest slip up he promised himself to stop, focus on the song playing on the radio and join in by whistling along
. If after one song he found himself cussing, even in his mind, he would commit to whistle the next song. It worked, he retrained his brain.
His workmanship improved, his fits of rage disappeared, he became trustworthy as a machine operator. His co-workers couldn’t believe it at first but after a year or two they all agreed, “People can change.” Amazing!!!
Wouldn’t it be grand if all deeply rooted psychologically complex neurological problems could be solved by whistling a song? In his case he was able to merge his love of music with his hate of self and his brain accepted the transformation challenge.
I will leave you with one thought. What in your life represents the “love of music” that just might have the power to challenge one of your deeply seeded issues you are desperate to change? Your job may not be on the line but something might be ultimately lost if you don’t figure out how to retrain your brain.