The magic (stick) of owning change

The magic (stick) of owning change

In the popular cartoon series Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin (the young boy) says to Hobbes (his toy tiger), “I thrive on change”.

Hobbes responds, “You threw a fit this morning because your Mom put less jelly on your toast than yesterday”, to which Calvin retorts, “I thrive on making other people change”.

Suggesting change for others is much easier that taking the personal steps to our own change, yet meaningful change gets diluted when we ask others to change and not change ourselves.

People learn by watching what leaders do and pay attention to this more than what someone says. Parents attempt to override this with “Do what I say, not what I do”.

Nothing demonstrates this better that an experience with the “magic stick”.

Eight to ten people, facing each other in two lines, with my very light, two-meter stick balanced on top of everyone’s extended index finger.

The objective is to lower the “magic stick” down to the ground, without anyone’s finger coming off the stick. It looks easy, but most of the time the stick goes up, not down.

This can go on for a very long time and people are surprised and often frustrated.

People look at someone else in the line and say, “Hey you, lower the stick down, don’t take it up”. Nobody says, “Sorry, it’s me taking it up”.

There are two key lessons in the magic stick experience. One, it looks easier than it really is. Two, it is always easier to look at what someone else is doing or not doing rather than looking at ourselves.

Effective change is like the magic stick experience. Talking about change and looking at others to change is not the same as leading change. Set the example you expect in others. Then the “magic of change” sticks.

How do your senior leadership teams set the example for change they expect in others?

Contact Information

Dan Norenberg
Wensauerplatz 11
81245 Munich
Phone: +49 172 862 5123

About Dan Norenberg

Dan Norenberg improves leadership performance and organization results through Executive Ownershift®, his transformational growth process for executive teams. As a trusted advisor, consultant and professional speaker, Dan’s mission is to enable executive teams and their organizations to play at their best.