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Helping Successful People Get Even Better!

Summary: Charles Handy noted that the "paradox of success" occurs because we need to change before we have to change, but when things are going well we feel no reason to change. Most research on behavioral change has focused on dysfunctional behavior, but little has been written on the challenge of helping successful people change. Four underlying beliefs of successful people can inhibit change. Successful people believe they are doing what they do because they choose to do it, and personal commitments make it hard for them to change. Successful people believe they have the capacity to succeed, often confusing correlation with causality. An unshakable optimism is one of the most important characteristics, making over-commitment a real danger. A positive interpretation of their past performance makes it difficult for successful people to hear disconfirming information from others. Successful people are responsive to help in achieving goals that they set, but tend to resist changes that make them feel judged or manipulated. It is important, therefore, that they receive input on important, self-selected behaviors as perceived by important, self selected raters. The person can then select one or two important areas for behavioral improvement. Successful people improve because of their own efforts and the efforts of their respected colleagues. Organizations stand to benefit greatly from their investment in developmental efforts.

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