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Navigating the Complex Waters of Human Behavior Change

BY: Rosie Ward PhD, MPH, MCHES, BCC // CEO and Co-Founder • Salveo Partners, LLC

We are living and working in a world where disruption is the new normal – often referred to with the acronym VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous). Thriving in a VUCA world requires us to leverage new thinking and to adapt in ways like we’ve never experienced.

  • Our usual approach to change mis-categorizes the types of challenges we’re facing; consequently, we end up treating adaptive challenges (those that require engaging our hearts and minds and have no known solution) like technical problems (those having known solutions). The reality is that most challenges related to our wellbeing and workplace culture are largely adaptive; we can only navigate through them by shifting our mindset.
  • Human beings are complex and messy. When we are faced with adaptive challenges, it evokes a sense of discomfort. And it’s part of the human condition to postpone or avoid making painful changes if we can avoid them; so we go into an automatic self-protective mode, often clinging tightly to what is comfortable and familiar. Add in the inherent characteristics of our VUCA world, and you have a perfect storm that can potentially keep us from effectively navigating change – for ourselves and others.
  • The remedy is to support people in becoming braver leaders and to create courageous cultures where people can move from showing up in self-protective mode to being their full, authentic selves. Easier said than done, as there is no fast-forward button when we’re dealing with human beings and adaptive challenges; it will be messy and uncomfortable at times. Yet it is necessary to thrive today and in the future.
  • The reason why most development and change efforts fail is that the underlying Inner Operating System (our mindset, attitudes, beliefs and assumptions and meaning-making system) can’t support the change. It’s like trying to run a computer program on an outdated operating system. It is only when we do the work to “upgrade” our inner operating system that we can move from self-protection to self-reflection, collaboration, and meaningful, sustainable change.

If we are going to make a difference and build thriving organizations and thriving people, we must move from trying to control people’s behaviors and “getting” them to change to honoring the complexities of being human. We start by supporting people in becoming braver leaders and create courageous cultures by moving from “doing stuff” to inviting people to enter into a space of self-reflection. Invite people to reflect and offer their thoughts on things like:

  • Who are you when you’re at your best?
  • What do you need to show up fully in your life?
  • If you could remove one obstacle keeping you from living your best life, what would that be?
  • What would it take for you to show up great today – regardless of your circumstances?
  • What’s something that would stretch you out of your comfort zone…that energizes and perhaps scares you at the same time?

It’s time to move from programs inviting people to “check-the-box” to creating a safe space for people to reengage with themselves.

To learn even more about creating lasting change from Rosie herself, check out her description of her training in the WELCOA Institute, “Navigating the Complex Waters of Human Behavior Change” below and then take the training!

Rosie Ward
Rosie Ward PhD, MPH, MCHES, BCC // CEO and Co-Founder • Salveo Partners, LLC

Rosie’s mission started 20 years ago when she experienced firsthand the ill effects of working in a toxic work environment and found her wellbeing eroding. As a consultant, coach, author, and one of the top speakers in the country on organizational and employee wellbeing, she is sought-after to help re-humanize workplaces so that people are freed, fueled and inspired to bring their best selves to work and home each day. Rosie is CEO and co-founder of Salveo Partners, LLC, a professional consulting and training company focused on equipping organizations to find success while putting people back at the forefront of their business. She currently lives in Minneapolis with her husband and son.