Sep 082011

Change: Why People Don’t Change

Change: By Steve Tobak | September 6, 2011| Via

Cleaning out my office the other day – an odd thing in itself – I came across something even more arcane than the thought of changeme cleaning anything. It was a DiSC behavioral profile my management team and I did back in the 90s.

The chart showed that I was heavy in the “dominance” and “influence” areas with pretty much zilch in the “conscientiousness” and “steadiness” realms. It was apparently a classic “Inspirational Pattern.” This is what it looked like (over there, on the right -> ).

According to the DiSC material:

  • My goal is to control my environment by “consciously attempting to modify the thoughts and actions of others.”
  • I’m adept at “identifying and manipulating other’s existing motives and directing the resulting behavior toward a predetermined end.”
  • I influence others through charm and intimidation and become manipulative and quarrelsome under pressure.

Tell me something I don’t already know. And readers wonder why I write about control freaks all the time. It’s something I know a lot about, that’s why.

So why bring up this unpleasant bit of history? Well, it’s surprising how accurately that profile described the “me” of 15 years ago. And while there were some things I would have liked to change about my behavior at the time, the truth is that I didn’t change a thing.

Don’t get me wrong; I have changed a lot since then. But what the DiSC program revealed had nothing to do with it. I changed when my goals changed – for reasons we’ll get to in a minute – and I realized the behavior that had served me in the past was no longer effective.

That’s what this post is about: the difference between identifying behavioral characteristics, which DiSC and similar programs like Myers-Briggs are probably very good at, and actually doing something about it, i.e. modifying behavior, which is a whole different ball game.

The real value of behavioral profiles systems



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