Todd Sivers is an experienced personal coach with a unique system for helping people create positive change. To him, the tension we’re seeing between our regressive politics and our unprecedented technological leaps is symptomatic of global growing pains. But are we ready for a massive societal change?

In this conversation, we chat about everything from the over-saturation of self-help to our insatiable desire to think change without creating change, and our vast untapped human potential. An entertaining chat, with an abundance of learnings for anyone wondering how we as humans are going to, well, deal with it all.

You can click on play to hear our conversation. Or, if you’d simply like a quick skim, read on. Either way, enjoy!

Big ideas

One of the biggest frustrations in counselling and coaching is realizing that the majority of people don’t change because they simply aren’t invested in their own improvement. A catalyst for breaking this pattern is, quite literally, investment. You need to have skin in the game – either financial or the understanding that you’re trading help for your own services.

Another catalyst for change is relationships. I’ve discovered that people who have a relationship with their coach – where there are human expectations and obligations – take to positive change much more rapidly.

The $25 you invest in a self-help book simply isn’t enough. In fact, by buying the book, then taking it home and putting it on the shelf, you’re actually not changing a thing while convincing yourself you’ve done something positive.

It doesn’t take an extremely talented coach to effect real change. If a coach can master the art of silence – of shutting up – s/he can enable incredible change. Unfortunately, when coaches feel pressured to produce because they’re in a fee for service relationship, they tend to fill every silence with chatter. This makes it impossible for their client to come up with their own solutions…the sort of solutions that stick.

Momentum works. Making a change – even if it isn’t always the right change – creates forward motion. It’s utterly unproductive if people simply talk about change, but don’t risk any actions.

Sivers bases his approach on his Four Switch System:

The Comparison Switch: This switch controls how you see the world and your place in it.

The Competence Switch: This switch controls your relationships.

The Context Switch: This one controls all of your decisions.

The Confidence Switch: The last switch controls how you feel about all of the above.

Currently, the US populace seems to be going through growing pains, wavering between wanting to forge ahead and make decisions, but then wanting to regress and have someone else make them.

The goal of the switch system is to find balance and maximize each person’s potential. For example, at one extreme of the comparison switch are people who nurture others, and at the other extreme, you have people who want to win. If you can get someone predisposed to nurturing to see the value in personal progress, they increase their potential. Or, if you can get someone who is looking out for number one to embrace the idea that there’s value in helping others, that individual will also experience positive change and growth.

If you want to begin thinking exponentially and unleashing your potential, the first thing you need to do is assess yourself honestly. We tend to assess everyone else based on ‘what they do’, and assess ourselves based on ‘what we intend’. When we can see ourselves as the product of things we consistently do, we start down the road of growth. True, this honesty is hard. Constructive criticism is hard. But a harsh reality is the catalyst to real growth.

Quotable quotes

“It doesn’t take a ton of talent in a coach to make big change for their clients. They just have to learn to shut up, and not feel obligated to fill every pause with their own talk.”

“At the end of the day, creating any change is good. Even if someone makes a change and it winds up being a mistake, they’re now in an uncomfortable position which provokes more change.”

“In the United States, we’ve gone from pushing forward and taking on the mantle of change, to wanting someone to make the hard decisions for us. It isn’t the end of the world – it’s just societal growing pains. A bit like a teenager who wavers between wanting responsibility and wanting his parents to take responsibility.”

“I’ve seen people change dramatically. It comes down to either a personal decision, or more often, the right catalyst at the right time. Case in point: Susan Boyle. She had the talent to be the star, but made the decision that it wasn’t the life for her.”

“The generations of the 20th Century lived with an artificial construct – the cocoon of the corporation. That’s going away. But accepting the mantle of entrepreneurism is hard, especially if we were raised to be linear thinkers.”

“We live in an exponential world. But few people grasp the power of exponential growth. Which explains why a handful of people own more than half the world’s population.”

“Businesspeople constantly create plans that sell themselves short. That’s because we still think in linear fashion. For example, we have a hard time grasping being paid in anything but a dollars for hours paradigm. We don’t think of exponential rewards.”

“The average person is functioning at about 6% of their potential. The brain is the most amazing thing in creation. And what do we do with it? Most of us are content playing Candy Crush.”

As a brand strategy expert, successful entrepreneur, and award-winning author, Marc Stoiber uses simplicity and creativity to help people discover what’s awesome about their business… and then helps them tell the world. For more on creating your company’s value proposition, connect with Marc on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and sign up to his monthly newsletter.  

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