Elements blocking personal growth — Vivienne Schultz

Optimum Human

A monthly column by social entrepreneur and A2B Transformation Group founder Vivienne Schultz.

The A2B Transformation Movement is very serious about moving people from A (dependency) to B (dignity). I am sure we all have a similar aim.

It’s only when it gets to the “How-to” that we might differ.

We believe it’s not viable to use a soft, cushioned approach to get humans out, once they are in a donga of disempowerment. It takes a good dose of tough love — an approach that is neither comfortable for the beneficiary, nor for the person administering the intervention.

If you want to help disempowered people get on their own feet, using their own hands and brain, you need to become an expert in:

  • Offering individuals graded and diverse “I can” moments. For this you need to measure their responsiveness levels and be able to equip them to grow their Occupational Intelligence;
  • Setting up of ecosystems for change, where all the elements in the organisation focus the individual towards task mastery and growth.
  • Positioning them with sustaining complimentary power-partners (strong spiritual entrepreneurial role-models).

Tackling the things that block change
When I present courses and interventions, I often find that there is a lot of energy and excitement in the room, because every human wants to feel empowered. That is, until we start tackling the things that block change. It is much harder to stay enthused about our growth when the course presenter is asking us to face the truth or the “flies” we are tolerating “in the ointment” of our lives.

You can truly offer the most amazing support systems to humans; but unless those humans fully own the things in their lives that are interfering with their growth process, they will remain stuck.

In this edition of the Optimum Human column, I want to discuss 15 elements that block change toward optimisation. Let’s call them the Blockers. In your own life, and the lives of your beneficiaries, we need to embrace the moments of truth that lead to change. A moment of truth happens when I own my Blockers and start putting measures in place to limit — and eventually remove — their impact on my life.

A word of caution, though: Do NOT attempt to point out a human’s Blockers for them, unless you have started to implement an ecosystem for change in your organisation. This information is not for you to psycho-analyse humans or hammers to bludgeon difficult colleagues or beneficiaries with. It requires a healthy, friendly ecosystem for a human to feel safe enough to face and grow beyond their Blockers.

Most of these 15 factors are present to a degree in us all. Make it your life mission to overcome and not to succumb.

Read more in the book Dependency to Dignity. It has truly become a manual for social practitioners in SA.

Here are the first three Blockers of change:

Blocker 1 — External locus of control
Things outside your mind are in control of your choices and you believe that your decisions or actions can’t change the outcome of events.

Simply put, this is when the steering wheel of your life is not in your own hands.

A person who can just not get into action suffers from this condition. They throw their hands in the air and accept the state of things because they believe nothing can change the course of events. It is always somebody else’s fault if their children become wash-outs. They are blind to their role in creating and perpetuating poverty and misery around them. They have a pre-determined outlook, and would sabotage their own change process because they cannot take full ownership or responsibility for their actions and decisions. Bad things obviously happen as a result of their irresponsibility, and they will easily blame somebody else for their mistakes.

It may not sound so bad, and people often minimise the seriousness of this Blocker, saying: “All he needs is assertiveness training!” However, this belief destroys self and others, but never gets to stand trial for its irresponsibility.

For example: Parents from an affluent area in Gauteng desperately needed my help as they were distressed by their matric son, who was caught stealing. They were blaming everything and everyone except themselves. I proposed that they come on a personal empowerment journey, rather than further condemning their son. They rejected my suggestion, wanting to rather “fix” him. They felt threatened by that idea, and decided to rather go the psychiatric and chemical medicating route. They made sure he got diagnosed — making the problem the child’s fault and not the parents’.

Blocker 2 — Victim mindset: poor me!
The best friend of someone with an external locus of control, is the victim — the one who always finds reasons to justify why a wrong thing should remain wrong. If they have an external locus of control, they will defend the fact that they can’t get themselves into action with all kinds of weird and wonderful reasoning.

This manifests in dependency, begging and extreme shyness — a “poor me, everything is going wrong for me and nobody cares about me and everyone is against me” thought pattern.

There was such a person in our residential program a while back. It was her birthday, but she kept quiet, using it as an opportunity to feel sorry for herself.

We heard about the birthday toward the evening and asked her why she did not simply tell us about it. She replied that it was our responsibility to check her file. She assumed that we did not do that because we did not care.

This mindset is fatalistic and blocks humans from the truth of what they are holding on to, and from facing life.

Blocker 3 — The rotten apple
I recently encountered an apple with a rotten spot the size of a bus. The manager had been tolerating this person’s attitude for too long, because he was one of the first employees to join when the business started. He also had a hard life, but showed great potential.

Unfortunately, there were no measures in place to mirror the behaviour of this young man back to him. Every suggestion, recommendation, discussion or contribution he aggressively shot down. He spoke on behalf of the team without asking team members if they agreed with him. His presence was overwhelming in the office. In the end, the work environment was completely contaminated.

He ended up resigning, and within two weeks the office environment was positive and the rest of the staff showed significant growth. When the rot was gone, all the other apples had the space to determine their own growth trajectory.

Rotten apples easily convince feeble minds why it’s right for things to be wrong and will constantly sabotage their own and others’ growth and development. Rules don’t apply to them.

Remember: A bad attitude is like a flat tyre, if you don’t change it, you are not going anywhere.

Where there is no will, there is no way!

These are the first of 15 Blockers. Once you recognise these behaviours in your work or ministry environment, the first thing to do is to power yourself up. If you allow anxiety about your moment of truth to paralyse you, your willpower is immediately de-activated and problem-solving becomes near impossible.

Take a deep breath, get some exercise, zoom out and see that the world is still turning just fine. Get your willpower up — and then come up with a strategy to tackle these Blockers head-on.

Contact me at Info@a2btransformation.com if you need help setting up an ecosystem for change, where dealing with Blockers like these comes naturally and all in a day’s work! Remember: You were designed as a powerful human being with the ability to build ecosystems where humans are optimised and empowered. Don’t settle for second best!

One Comment

  1. Valuable pointers for Christians indeed! It is my humble view that the Congregation should be the first safe harbour that raises the Biblical believer in the principles of “let your Kingdom come” purpose as described in e.g. Ephesians 4:4-14, 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12:5-8. Society in general, – it is submitted, – reflects the character of its people and its leaders. Unless all Christians grow in spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical maturity, and actually salt, light and Kingdom-yeast beyond the pews as called, equipped and anointed, our communities will continually suffer unduly.