How To Change Behaviour For Real

How To Change Behaviour For Real

I watched a film the other day called Buck – maybe you’ve seen it? It contains a powerful lesson about how to make genuine change. 

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It’s a documentary about Buck Brannaman, the real-life horse whisperer. There are several threads within the story, and the one I want to share is Buck’s inspiring approach to changing behaviour.

Buck travels the USA, giving clinics to “horses with people problems.” He transforms the behaviour of these horses in a matter of moments. He goes entirely against the grain of the accepted way of horse breaking – that is, imposing the human’s will upon it until it complies. Instead, he treats them with respect and uses gentle persuasion. Within minutes the horse drops its defensive behaviour.

The resistance is gone.

The horse can be itself.

Then, instead of the human dictating its behaviour, the horse is happy to be guided. And, together, human and horse dance.

As I watched, it brought to mind how we’re too often ‘trained’ or educated. The ways that we’re frequently ‘broken in’ or socialised.

Learning is a natural, enjoyable, thrilling part of being human, yet it seems to have become a chore. Too often, the teacher, trainer or coach will dominate us, infantilise us, or force us to behave in ways that satisfy them. And we’ll comply to get the star, the grade, the promotion.

As is shown in the movie, many trainers think this is the only way to make a change. Others are afraid that their students will become unruly if they don’t come from this angle.

Others enjoy the power.

But, as Buck’s horses elegantly demonstrate, there is another way.

If you’re going through any change programme, make sure you have a ‘Buck’ type guiding you.

You’ll recognise them because they won’t impose their will, they don’t let you know just how great they are, and they’ll guide you to change for yourself, towards yourself.

I don’t have the time.

I don’t have the time.

How often do you say this?

“I’d love to do that, but I just don’t have the time.”

Isn’t it strange? Our (western) world is crammed with every conceivable convenience, designed to make our lives easier, to free us up to do the things we love. Yet we still frequently cite lack of time as a reason for not doing something.

Would you like more time? If so, here’s a way to get some.

Would you like to be free?

Would you like to be free?

Are you one of those people who have left a regular job and set out on your own?

Or would you like to be?

Would you like to be a freelancer?

The ‘free’ in freelance is a big clue to the appeal of this way of working.

The ability to shape your own life and determine your destiny is a huge pull for many who feel they’re living life in a straight jacket of someone else’s design.

But making the leap is a huge decision.

However, if freedom is calling, you need to listen, or you’ll always regret it.

Imagine a working situation that allows you to spend each day more aligned to who you are and what you want from life, that finds you looking forward to the day ahead, that enables you to be more in control of your destiny. At best, this is what being a freelancer offers.

However, it’s not all roses. Otherwise, everyone would do it.

What are some of the ‘thorns’ of being freelance?

You’ve got to be ready to handle thorns such as these:

  • financial insecurity
  • a requirement to self-motivate no matter how tough the going gets
  • a lack of benefits or holiday pay
  • no ready-made status
  • the need to build your own network of colleagues
  • delegating, managing and leading
  • doing a large range of tasks, some way out of your comfort zone 
  • no skiving
  • making all the decisions
  • the buck stopping with you
  • setbacks and failure
  • working really long hours
  • friends and family pouring cold water on your plans

Do you have the necessary skills to grasp those thorns?

Soft skills are even more important if you’re freelance than if you’re employed.

Is freedom still calling?

If you say “yes” to all that, then it’s time to start making plans!

Getting free will be the best thing you ever did.

Re-thinking education for equality

Re-thinking education for equality

Barrier Breakers Foundation believes we must re-think our education system for equality to become a reality. We need to move away from the mechanistic ‘teaching to the test’ approach and towards an education system where soft skills are embedded in every learning experience.

Soft skills are the traits and abilities of attitude and behaviour rather than knowledge or technical aptitude.

Soft skills – such as communication, leadership, confidence, motivation, self-awareness, creativity, and teamwork – are increasingly recognised as key to enterprise, entrepreneurship, and leadership.

‘Soft skills are an asset that neither employers nor employees can ignore.’ James Caan CBE

Soft skills are becoming critical determinants of survival in the face of current challenges.  They are the skills we need to adapt successfully to a globalised, rapidly changing, unpredictable environment.

However, there’s a massive soft skills gap, particularly affecting young people.

While soft skills are essential to workplace success and personal wellbeing, their value extends even further.

Do we want an education system that develops the individual, encourages questioning, reflection, and a curious mind, creating a lust for lifelong learning and bringing about social mobility and equality? If so, then education policy needs to recognise and prioritise soft skills fully.

Soft skills open our eyes to reality. They give us the strength to change things for the better, and they provide us with the resilience that making change demands.

There is evidence that this new kind of education would have dramatic benefits, not only for the young people concerned but also for society.

Graham Allen’s report, Early Intervention: The Next Steps, detailed “the immense penalties to society and to the individual of failing to provide a strong foundation of social and emotional capabilities early in life.”

If we care about equality, we must support all young people by putting soft skills at the heart of education.