Helping others change: Advice from an Old German and David Allen

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I came across this quote from Goethe

“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of being.”

More and more as I lead and consider leadership I see the vast importance of putting people first and accomplishments second. Gathering people with the same desires together to accomplish a task and then building them up as best you can, that is what will make a mark in this world.

I really like what David Allen said in his most recent “Productive Living Newsletter.” The topic was helping people to change their habits. He said:

If you want to be good at getting other people to change, ask yourself: “Who got me to change?…and how did they do that?” Bring to mind the three people in your life you would say were most effective in getting you to improve, learn, stretch, and grow in a positive way. What was common to all three?

For me, there was only one common denominator about those people in my life. Whether it was the sweet little old teacher in the 4th grade, or the coach that ran my tail off in high school—they all held a vision of my being and doing better than I was currently doing, they held that as a standard when they related to me, and they cared enough about me to hold me to task when I fell short. (They also all did it lovingly, though it didn’t feel like it sometimes!)

Really want people to change? Try that.

That is good advice.


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