I’m fascinated by people who change their lives.
I was lucky enough to see a bunch of friends and colleagues at my friend’s 40th birthday party, last summer. These are bloggers, speakers and HR professionals whom I knew when I was younger but haven’t hung out with in many years.
What was clear at that party is that times have changed since 2009. Quite a few of my friends are now very successful HR leaders within their organizations. Several have married and started families. Some are published authors and thought-leaders with smart things to say about the future of work.
It’s hard to notice a change in most people, but when you see someone after several years apart, the hard work shows. Friends who suffered from depression and anxiety during the recession are now killing it at work. People who once floundered in HR are defining the future of the industry. And friends with troubled marriages are now involved in healthy, productive relationships.
Change doesn’t happen overnight, and it goes unnoticed. So, I reached out to some of those individuals after the birthday party to ask about what’s going right in their lives. And there’s a common theme: every single friend of mine admitted they were broken, and they chose to fix it.
The psychology of changing your behavior is complicated. Just because you want to fix a flaw — or enhance your relationships — doesn’t mean you have skills to do it. It doesn’t mean the universe will comply, either. Experts say it’s best to start with straightforward and attainable goals. And you’ll need help.
Some of my friends used coaches (and some reached out to clergy), but all of them asked for help to identify and fix one or two pain points. Then, like a snowball rolling down a hill, momentum grew.
Having friends who are committed to self-improvement makes it harder to be the least accomplished person in the room. I heard stories from colleagues who lost weight to travel around the world, got promoted into awesome jobs, or left abusive relationships and found peace. Their achievements made me think about my life. What are a few things I could do to improve life and my career?
I know this: I could spend more time with friends.
So, next week I’ll be in Austin with a bunch of former homies at WorkHuman. (I do behind-the-scenes coaching and consulting with that event. It’s my fourth year in a row.) These days, when I offer my consulting services to conferences, I’ll do my job and then stay home. But I’m happy to attend this event and see friends and colleagues who doubled-down on personal growth.
If you’re out there lighting the world on fire — or even just lighting your own world on fire — I’m happy to reconnect. Your change isn’t lost on me. I see the growth within you, and I want to learn more about it.