Teach a Man to Fish…Will He? The fallacy of expected change
We often talk about bringing about change. We embrace Transtheoretical models of behavior change, we assess people’s readiness to act on new and healthier behavior, we provide strategies for change, we guide the people through stages of change – but, and this is a big but; one of our most profound errors of social intelligence is the assumption that if we provide someone with a vehicle for change, they will not only accept it, but undertake to make it.
How many times, for example, we in good faith extended a hand to someone, only to have them slide right down the same slippery slide that you just dragged them up from? This isn’t just the territory of enablers and agents trapped in a cycle of addiction. It’s a frustration regularly visited upon many of us by our kids, co-workers, friends, spouses, partners, and the family pet.
In fact this may be the fallacy of expected change.
Change comes to the willing. The willingness to change is based on a very simple reckoning.
In it’s most simple form - It’s when the consequences of our behavior outweigh the value of that behavior to us, it is an invocation of change. There is no guarantee that this change will happen, but, before it can even be considered, the conditions of potential change - consequence outweighing value must be met.