What’s the first thing we do when we realize we need to make a change or solve a problem?
We seek information, right? We ask friends, do an online search, buy a course, hire an expert.
Information is super useful when we are trying to get somewhere new, either personally or professionally.
And yet, we’ve all had the experience of hiring the expert, taking the course, even getting that graduate degree… and then realizing we aren’t really where we hoped to land anyway.
That’s because information does NOT create transformation.
Transformation is created when a deep knowing, an insight, shows up in us in a whole way – and we feel a full-on commitment to creating this new way of being, this new version of ourselves.
I don’t mean to be melodramatic, but when information supports this kind of insight and committed action, only then do we have a chance at transformation.
We dive deep on all of this in this week’s Brilliance at Work podcast episode.
What You’ll Learn from this Episode:
- Why even though information is often the first thing we look for… it’s not what creates transformation
- How information can be really confusing in times of uncertainty (looking at the COVID-19 virus as an example)
- What transformation really is and what creates it in our lives
- Why the statement “change is hard”is actually a false statement
- My personal examples of creating transformation in my life (both personally and as a speaker)
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Full Episode Transcript:
Welcome to the Brilliance At Work Podcast where we shine a light on where great work, charisma and leadership that makes a positive difference really comes from, I'm Michelle Barry Franco. I'm an executive coach speaking coach and your honored host and I'm delighted that you're here. Hello, hello. My beautiful, brilliant friends. These are some strange times. I am recording this on March 11th so we are kind of right in the middle of so much uncertainty around Coronavirus, Covid 19 I think they're calling it and just what's going to happen and it's really timely for the topic that I had planned for today anyway because we're going to talk about how learning does not actually create transformation and it's interesting to see this happening out in the world. I mean there are absolutely changes happening out in the world for sure. For example, I just got home maybe an hour ago from the airport, I flew into San Francisco to SFO. I fly in there all the time. I've traveled frequently and when I got off the plane in the middle of the day on a Wednesday, the airport looked like it was midnight. It looks like when I come in on one of those red eyes or something and there's just no one around
It was just empty and in the plane I took this picture of all the rows behind me because I got upgraded to first-class because so many people had canceled their flight. Literally I took a picture toward the back of the plane and you couldn't see a person except for the sleeve of the person right behind me. And then after that, I mean I know there were some people back there probably in the window seats it was virtually empty on that airplane. So absolutely things are different and changing and we're all trying to figure out how to process all of this information that's out there. It's also interesting to notice how different parts of the world are handling what is now being termed a pandemic. You know, we know there's compelling articles out there right now that say social distancing, like staying away from other people, like everybody basically shutting everything down and everybody's staying away from each other is the best way to slow the spread of this virus.
Many people are changing behavior, right? There is some transformation going on washing our hands a lot more. I hear people talking about it all the time, how their hands are raw from washing our hands so much, but our schools are still open. They're shutting down events at a hundred people or more. In some places it's a thousand people or more information can also be really confusing, right? It's kind of an interesting time to even be having this conversation around how information does not create transformation. Now I am going to move this into the realm of business and the kind of transformations that we're looking for inside of the business realm, like going from a person who is really afraid of public speaking, for example, to being a confident speaker who captivates an audience. That's a transformation that many of the people I talk with, one to create inside of companies and as thought leaders on behalf of their own message and their own mission, or going from a brand new leader or a leader of a new team that's struggling, how do you go from that to someone who confidently and with ease and grace helps a team deliver at their highest levels with their highest performance?
That's a transformation that many people are trying to figure out how to do. That's really what we're going to talk about today and it's interesting because information is often the first thing we look for, right? It's not that it's not good for anything and we'll talk about that of course, but I want to talk about why information is not what creates the transformation and I want to talk about what does create that transformation because the thing is we think that we're solving something when we gather the information, but too often we're actually largely filling time and again. I don't want to totally dismiss the usefulness of all information, but a bunch of information without having kind of cultivated the soil. So I'll talk more about what I mean by this, but without these other elements that I'm going to talk about, that information actually can just be really confusing because there is a lot of uncertainty.
Again, we're seeing this with Covid 19 the virus right now and all the confusing information and nobody knowing quite what to do because we're just looking for the information to solve a problem that we have to get us to the other side. That's not what gets us to the other side into full action around something we really want into that whole new place of transformation. This comes up all the time with new clients and frankly, this has been me too many times as well. I had a recent client say to me, she said, I spent nearly $20,000 last year on training and consulting, and I still feel lost about what to do around my business and my team and all of it. I have been there, my friends and the number has been more than 20,000 and that's not counting all of the hours that I've spent traveling to learn things or searching around on the interweb.
I know we're doing the best we can and that's why I'm so excited to have this conversation because knowing that information does not create transformation, we can look toward what does and then we can use that information in a much, much more useful way. Transformation means change, right? It means going from where you are now to where you want to be, usually through some kind of struggle, because if there wasn't a struggle or something blocking you currently, you'd already be there if that's what you want. You think of the most kind of iconic, maybe cliche way of illustrating transformation is a Caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. So you've got this warm me, squishy creature that looks nothing like a butterfly and then it goes into its cocoon. It does a bunch of things, and then it comes out a butterfly, beautiful butterfly, a baby, a baby transforms into an adult.
Hopefully if all goes right, anything can transform into something else. Meaning I've just made a salad earlier and you've got a bunch of lettuce and veggies and then you take all that lettuce and veggies, you put it together in a certain way and it transforms into a salad. We go from one place and then there's an activity. See, that's not a struggle even. It's not always a struggle. It doesn't have to be painful and then it comes out as something different. Here's the first thing I want to say about transformation and we often do think about it as painful and it's like it's something we've got to push through, we've got to make ourselves do, but here's the thing, we are actually built for change. We're actually always changing. So when people say that change is hard or they'll never change, it's actually false
It's not true. Change is happening every minute in us, and I'm not even just talking about the fact that our cells are dying and being replaced. Well, I mean what her whole body is supposedly replaced every seven years or something. Literally our whole systems are changing and transforming all the time, but we are actually changing. We learn little things all the time and we take those in and we shift our behavior and it is because we are built for change. I want you to see this. You were made for this. I say that all the time, right? You were made for transformation. For example, our brain loves to learn new things. Yes, this is part of the learning thing, right? The new information, novel experiences. I read this in the Oprah magazine article called what happens to your brain when you learn something new?
It's a very cool article. It cites other research, so it's actually written based on a lot of cool research. It's written by Kate, but John Medina talks about this in his amazing book called brain rules where he cites lots of research to support this as well. Basically the idea is these novel experiences give you a rush of dopamine. It's this reward chemical in our body. New experience says our brain loves novelty, loves new experiences, and that's what learning is, right? That's why it feels so good when you learn something new, especially something that's of interest to you, because another thing from John Medina's book brain rules, highly recommend that he talks about is that our brain doesn't pay attention to boring things and of course think novelty, new, so new information, especially information that we are interested in and our brain gets excited about it.
It’s a feel good nature. So we're changing all the time. By nature, it's in our design. Our brain is seeking this out, but you're probably thinking, okay, so our cells replace themselves and where our brain seeks out new information, but that's not really what we often mean by transformation. Usually we want to decide something that we want to change and it's really meaningful to us and it is something we're struggling with. We don't know how to do it and we want to do it. I mean across my lifetime I've wanted to become a competitive weightlifter, buy a house in the country, get married and have babies, build $1 million business, write and publish a book. So my own wedding dress, some of these I actually did and some of them I haven't done yet. Others, like competitive bodybuilding for example, I've just kind of fallen off my desire list.
Although I will say that I completely admire a very strong female physique. To this day I just don't necessarily aspire to become a competitive weight lifter myself anymore. But all of these transformations that I've experienced, for example, sewing my own wedding dress. At the time it's a funny story. My not yet husband and I decided we were going to get married and I knew his mom for about a year and a half and I decided I wanted to make my own wedding dress because I couldn't find one out there that looked good to me. I called her up on the phone because she's amazing and she'll just hop in on any project and I said, Hey, I was thinking I'd make my own wedding dress. Do you want to help me? Um, I don't know anything about sewing. I think I had sewed some pillows. I made some very, very rudimentary Barbie clothes when I was little.
I think I had sewn a dovey once, like a big giant rectangle and put some buttons in it so that I could put a down comforter inside of it, but otherwise I did not have a lot of experience with sewing and I wanted to sell my own wedding dress. My mother-in-law and I knew I'd had more experience because Iheard about her making my husband Jim's little drummer costume when he was in the school play. So I'm like, she'll probably know how to sell my wedding dress. So I had sketched it out on a piece of paper. I call her on the phone. I say to her, do you want to help me make this wedding dress? She says, yeah, that sounds fun. Do you have a pattern? It's definitely as it's like supportive, but there's some hesitation in her voice and I said, no, I don't really have a pattern.
I have actually a drawing that I just did and she's so kind. She said, well I think we could just start maybe looking for some patterns and seeing if there's something similar. And I remember distinctly thinking to myself like, do we really need a pattern? I mean I drew it out, can we just draw it on the fabric or something? I knew nothing about sewing my own wedding dress. We did eventually sew my wedding dress, of course it was way more. I read some magazines and different patterns. I learned about sewing. I looked up some stuff online. There definitely was information involved, but there was also us trying things and having like these moments where we'd go, Oh my gosh, okay, now I see why they're saying you might want to do a practice round of this and muslin why we had read that somewhere.
I was really making a whole dress and then making another onel, but yeah, so I'd have these like moments of what I now know are like insight. Oh there's stuff you learn when you actually try doing it. That teaches you what you want to do differently next time. That becomes more personal right in the process. So I'd have these moments of personal insight along the way as I would describe it now. So let's take this into the business realm. We can move away from sewing. We did eventually. So a lovely wedding dress that I just adored. I still adore it. My daughters try it on now. It's very fun, but let's take this into the business realm because it's absolutely true that if you want to become a great speaker, knowing how to craft a captivating top like learning, that getting the information about how to craft a captivating talk that lights up the brains and hearts of your audience will absolutely be a game changer.
We have best practices in the speaking world that will help you deliver in a way that not having that information would take a lot longer to learn. If you ever learned it now, maybe with a lot of trial and error, you'd start to figure it out, but the cool thing about gathering information is it can create a shortcut for you. However, it's not the information that actually creates the transformation that creates that full change. You know how I know this because I've known how to, for example, organize my house in a much better way. For years, when I moved to Virginia years ago, I hired a professional organizer. Her name is Marina. She's incredible. One organized girl. You can look her up. We'll put her in the show notes. She's so wonderful. She came to the house, worked with me for weeks and weeks and really taught me how to organize my house and then also helped me do it, which was so amazing.
I know how to do it, but until I had some personal insights around how what she was teaching me applied to my own life and my own family's system, I wasn't really able to use it regularly. There are some areas though where I absolutely can apply this, like I am a much more organized person in certain ways now in other ways. I also know I can go back to what she taught me, so I know how to take a big giant room full of all kinds of stuff and I know a system to apply and I know that it will work for me because I've tried it and I've seen what I need to do for it to work in my own life. She taught me that information, but I had my own personal insights around why that mattered to me and how it worked in my own life.
I go back to that regularly. But the information itself did not create the change. I had read lots of articles in magazines, books on organizing. I'd bought whole books on organizing before I ever hired her, and that information did not create that transformation for me. Now if you know me, you're like, well, you're not that amazingly organized, Michelle. That's true, but you know, transformation does not necessarily mean that it applies to every single area of your life, right? This is the beautiful thing to see, right? It's a whole nother podcast episode that we could do about how change does and doesn't replicate throughout your life, but the beginning part of this is information itself does not create the transformation. The transformation happens when you have your own insight and then you're able to apply that in a way that has a meaning in your own life.
I've known how to do this organizing. I apply it in certain areas, but there are other areas where I'm just not very organized. I haven't had my own personal insights that allow me to apply it in action on the fly when complications come up, that kind of thing. I knew how to write a book for a long time. That's another one of those, right? I knew how to write a book. Of course, I had read plenty of books. You sit your booty down and you write. I knew I could see the structure of it. I had read about how to write amazing books out there like bird by bird, which is so brilliant. Love that book the most, but that didn't transform me into an author. Of course not. It's information does not create the transformation and I've worked with aspiring speakers, so we've actually worked together and they now know the intricate way to craft a captivating talk.
Like Brina, I brought them the expertise in the best practices and they would ACE it on an exam. But the ones who haven't actually had their own insight about why, what they've learned around speaking applies to their own work, their own speaking, their own thought leadership, and then gone out there and used it. They haven't actually experienced the transformation they want. They haven't become the speaker. They know they're meant to be. That comes from personal insight and then resolve and then action. So basically they see how it applies to their own life. They feel within them. It's even bigger than commitment or devotion. It's like, I'm just doing this. It's happening. It reminds me actually of when I quit drinking, so I knew about how to quit drinking alcohol. I, there's a lot of addiction in my family. I'd been around, yeah, recovery programs, 12 step programs, lots of times in my life.
I knew a lot about how to quit drinking. I know the signs to look for when drinking was becoming a problem in your life, but I just hadn't had the personal insight for myself. But that insight, that moment of insight for me, it was magic. I had the information but there was one day standing in that kitchen and my mother in law's house. You may have heard me tell that story standing in that kitchen and my mother in law's house when I knew this is it like I don't want to do this anymore, and I had both the insight and the resolve and then I went on my alcohol sabbatical and that's how it started and I became a person who loves being sober. That's not what I was that day. Right, because transformation is just evolving. It's not like you transform and then you're done.
Information helps you get there. Once I got to that place, a lot of information I had gathered over the years around how to live sober, what to say to people when you're going out to dinner and normally you drink at least as much as the rest of them often more. How do you respond to that? Well, I had gathered some of that information as I thought about quitting drinking and then I knew to go gather more of it. Right. I started looking up articles, what to do in social situations when you're sober, all that stuff. It turns out it's really not that complicated and it's such an easy thing to answer now, but at the time, at that place in my transformation, that is what I needed to know. So many of these moments of insight and then resolve. That moved me into the other side.
Of course, I see this with my clients all the time, so when my CEO client decided after a number of insights, it's not always just linear, just had enough difficulties, enough tricky situations in his leadership and what was going on inside of his company. He just knew that it was time to take a sabbatical. He tried to think through the answers. We would coach on them, he would talk to his team about them. He had other people he was consulting with around new systems they could put in place inside their company and they just weren't working and there was a moment when he said, I know that to everyone else. It's going to seem crazy for me to take some time away, but I can't think straight. So he took a sabbatical and he had resolved. So for a moment of insight, what I'm doing is not working.
Then he resolved around creating that space for himself. Moving into that next level of transformation, I have another CEO client who realized that she wanted to build a much bigger company than she had ever dreamed up before and it really was this like moment of insight like, Oh my gosh, I've been thinking about this from such a small place and I want something so much bigger, and that moment of resolve, she hired multiple full time members to take a bunch of the stuff off her plate so that she could become the leader of this much bigger company. She was in a moment of insight. Wow, I want something totally different than I've been building and then resolving and then took the action and now she's leading from this new place on the other side of that transformation. Of course she's not done. I'm not done.
You're not done. You've had these, I'm sure these experiences too. So why does all of this matter? Because we're actually coming at change and transformation in a way that's way more complex than necessary. We actually don't have to work so hard. In fact, I think that we are thinking our way into a mess of confusion. It's like we think that we have to do a bunch of stuff in our brain like we have to become a different person before we can ever create the change or transformation. That's just not true. You can't, you're not going to become a different person first. Now, I'm not saying you're not going to dream up who that person is, but I'm saying even if you can't picture it right now, that's okay because this is such a natural process. You were made for transformation. You are made for change and transformation.
It feels like we're stuck, but you're not stuck. You probably have a lot of thinking going on. You're gathering a lot of information. Then you're looking to your brain and all of that information to puzzle together an answer to a problem that you think will. Once it's resolved, we'll get you to the other side and I'm saying that your transformation is underneath all of that. You're not stuck because you have freedom underneath all of that thinking all the time. When you create some space for yourself, when you see you are made for change and transformation, that it's a natural part of the process for you. You take yourself out of so much thinking and learning and you just drop in to that place in you that knows what you're wanting, that knows what you're looking at on the other side, that book that you want to write, that stage that you want to be on, you're dreaming of the TEDx stage.
There's nothing in this world that stops you from getting on that kind of stage except your thinking except getting caught up in too many stories and thoughts and too much information about what you need to do first. All you need is that moment of insight for yourself. I'm doing this, this is happening, and then resolve. Sometimes by the way, a moment of insight sounds something like, wow, I've been dreaming of being on a TEDx stage, but I've been telling myself a bunch of stories. Oh my gosh, none of these stories are true. That's kind of what an insight sounds like. It's just a fresh idea that comes to you, that's yours, that feels personal, that feels like something you can use and then comes resolved. Okay, so then what's the next little step and then what's the next step? That's how transformation happens and it can feel so much lighter and so much easier than the world is telling you that it can look, you don't have to do all the stuff that it looks like you have to do to get to the other side of transformation to get to that place that you want to get.
You can look toward what really creates change in your life. It might mean you're going to create a new strategic plan. Maybe there's going to be a new program or course that will support you on the way, but that's on the other side of your insight and resolve. You know this by the feeling you have in your body, you are always free. Underneath all of that thinking and from that spacious free place, these new fresh ideas come to you and they give you that momentum that resolves like, okay, I'm going to go do this thing. Let's see the next thing to do and the next thing to do. So let yourself dream up what you want with enough freedom and enough openness and spaciousness and at some point you're going to see something totally new because this has happened to you before or think about when this has happened to you before.
I don't want to oversimplify or pretend there isn't some roller coaster even after you've had this insight and resolve, but I'm hoping that if you see this for yourself, you'll start to get onto how transformation actually really works for you. Look over your life. Don't just believe me about this. Look at the times when you've done something in your life that might have seemed insurmountable at the time and then all of a sudden you were just doing it. You've got so much exciting stuff that you can do on the other side of seeing that you're already made to do this. So to sum this up, we're changing all the time. It's our nature. It's our design. You are actually already really good at it. Here's the thing, my brilliant friend, you have so much potential to create the amazing thing that you imagine these ideas, these fresh ideas for the things you want to do in the world, these transformations you want to create in your life and in your work. They show up because they're yours to create. That's what it's saying. Hey, I'm here for you. Let's go do this thing. You were actually really truly made for this, and you know how I know this, right? I know that because you know that because you wouldn't be driven toward this transformation if it wasn't rising up for you. That's your sign. You were made for this. All right, my friend, until next week, I already can't wait. Take care.
Thank you so much for being here with me on the Brilliance at Work Podcast. If you want to know how to tap your own most natural charisma as a leader and a speaker, you can download a free copy of Lead with Your Natural Charisma, Inspire and Motivate Your Team and Beyond with Ease at http://brillianceatwork.com/naturalcharisma.
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