Breaking out of a rut in thinking

It’s easy to get stuck in a narrow track of thinking. As someone who’s always valued creativity, outta-left-field ideas and out-of-the-box sources of inspiration, I fight back whenever I sense I’m getting into a rut. This time I’ll share my way of fighting back so others might benefit too.

I believe big change happens when we open ourselves to making connections between things that are slightly related or at first glance might seem to not have any relevance to each other at all. Somewhere in our subconscious, the thoughts eventually meld into a really innovative idea, and it pops. You know when this happens.

So it’s good to constantly get exposed to new inspiration. Every day I’m going to look for a piece of inspiration from a source outside of my usual sources: research from a different profession, a conversation, a conference presentation, a LinkedIn Group discussion, a blog or book, an email newsletter that I usually don’t take the time to read (apologies if your communication shows up here, it really means I realized I should pay attention to it!), even stories about the personal experiences of family and friends. And I’ll share the inspiration here.

Also do you see what I’m doing here — now that I put this intention in writing, and not only that, I put it publicly in the first blog I’m doing with my name openly on it, I’m more likely to follow-through on this behavior change. Because yes, I’m changing something about myself as I do this.

Here’s what I seek:  How to be better at influencing and changing behavior.

Quick background: My profession is public health and I work on traffic safety issues — teen driving and distracted driving. With a focus on evidence-based prevention practices (high-visibility enforcement, GDL, etc.). In the nitty-gritty of everyday hands-on work, talking with people and writing things to influence people – everyone from parents to legislators – there’s a lot to learn from others about behavior change. 

For many of us, our real work is done through other people. Think about it. If you’re in sales, you produce revenue when you influence the purchasing behavior of other people. If you’re in marketing, you accomplish when people exposed to your communications have a positive view of your products and are moved toward sales. If you’re an executive, so much of your influence is made real by those throughout the organization who must implement your vision. If you’re a researcher, your findings become part of even greater change when others are exposed to your findings and put them into practice. For those of us in all the fields of public health, we’re very aware of how much we depend on influencing others to change behavior in order to “move the needle” and improve health outcomes – we influence individuals, families, communities, entire public and private sector organizations, politics … it’s such a big circle it’s hard to wrap your arms around it, so there’s always something to learn about how to effectively bring the change we seek. 

I believe we have more impact when we share rather than keep knowledge to ourselves. So I’ll share. Thus, The Change Exchange. I hope you find useful learnings here.

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