R is for Radical Shifts That Bring Rewards


Looking back, when have you made a radical shift that brought rewards? You may have taken this step when looking after your health, changing your career, leading an organisation or whatever.

What motivated you to make the shift? What did you see as the benefits? What did you do to repeat the desired habits? What did you then do to deliver the required results?

Much of my early work in therapeutic communities was with people who wanted to develop healthier habits. This taught me several things about people who changed their lifestyles.

People must want to develop and make the radical shift. They need to believe it will bring them greater rewards.

People can develop by repeating what they know works. They can recall when they have demonstrated the behaviours that will deliver the desired results. They can then follow these successful patterns plus, when appropriate, add other strategies and skills to achieve their goals.

People can develop by repeating the required behaviours and getting the desired rewards.

If wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Looking at your own personal or professional life, this invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the past when you made a radical shift that brought rewards.

Describe the specific things you did then to make the radical shift.

Describe the specific things that happened as a result of making the radical shift.

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Let’s explore each of these themes. These can be followed by individuals, teams and organisations that want to develop.

Radical Shifts

People must want to make the shift. They must feel that doing so will give them more pleasure or less pain. They must see there will be a pay-off. Whether we agree with them or not, many businesses will only shift their focus if they believe that doing so will make them more money.

Individuals can spend years pondering whether or not to take more care of their health. They may only act, however, after experiencing a crisis. A person may then choose to care for their body, rather than increase the chances of an early death.

Many people have such Road To Damascus moments, but these do not always translate into making a shift. People sometimes start out with good intentions, but then revert to old habits.

What makes the difference? People who make such a shift often begin by taking the following steps.

They are prepared to take responsibility for shaping the future. This future sometimes involves more than themselves.

They are prepared to explore all the possible options for going forwards, together with the pluses and minuses of each option. They then settle on their chosen option.

They are prepared to do the work involved. They translate their plans into action, get some quick successes and achieve positive results.

I saw this approach translated into action when running therapeutic communities. A person might say they wanted to be healthy, for example, rather than continue with drug addiction. They needed to make the emotional commitment to pursuing a healthy route, however, before it was possible to make such changes.

Looking at it from the person’s point of view – rather than our view – we helped them to explore the pluses and minuses involved in working to stay healthy.

The pluses were:

They would feel healthier and probably live longer.

They would feel more in control and be able to work towards achieving their life goals. 

They would feel happier for longer periods, rather than by just getting a temporary high. 

They would be able to make more loving relationships and, in turn, people would be kinder towards them.  

They would feel more at ease and be able to make better use of their talents. 

The potential minuses were:

They would need to take responsibility every day, rather than blame others for their situation. 

They would need to deal with their feelings in a healthy way, rather than by using drugs. 

They would need to develop another fulfilling purpose, rather than just being motivated to get the next fix.

They would need to develop another circle of friends, rather than those who focused on drugs. 

They would need to learn how to get healthy short-term successes – to satisfy their personal need for quick gratification – on the road toward achieving their long-term goals.

The individual who chose to take the healthy route bore all these factors in mind. They made an inner contract with themselves that they wanted to achieve their goals. They then translated this commitment into action and got some early wins.


People who make a shift can develop by repeating what they know works. There are two aspects regarding the concept of repetition.

The first aspect involves people recalling when they have demonstrated the behaviours required to make the shift. They can then be helped to repeat these successful patterns – plus add other skills – to reach their goals.

This approach is more likely to work than simply urging people to change. It is based on the organic approach to development. Here is an overview of the approach.

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This is an approach that I have often used with individuals, teams and organisations. People feel reassured that they have already demonstrated the required behaviours, even if only for a few minutes.

People can build on these positive habits, plus add other skills, and work towards achieving their aims. This leads to the next step.

The second aspect of repetition is people developing a daily rhythm that they can pursue to reach their goals. This involves doing the right things in the right way every day.

James Clear describes this approach in his article The 3 R’s of Habit Change: How to Start New Habits That Actually Stick. Below is an excerpt from his article. You can discover more via the following link.


Your life today is essentially the sum of your habits.

How in shape or out of shape you are? A result of your habits. 

How happy or unhappy you are? A result of your habits.

How successful or unsuccessful you are? A result of your habits.

What you repeatedly do (i.e. what you spend time thinking about and doing each day) ultimately forms the person you are, the things you believe, and the personality that you portray.

But what if you want to improve? What if you want to form new habits? How would you go about it?

Turns out, there’s a helpful framework that can make it easier to stick to new habits so that you can improve your health, your work, and your life in general. Let’s talk about that framework now…

The 3 R’s of Habit Change

Every habit you have — good or bad — follows the same 3-step pattern.

Reminder (the trigger that initiates the behavior)

Routine (the behavior itself; the action you take)

Reward (the benefit you gain from doing the behavior).

Teams that make radical shifts also follow certain habits. They develop a way of behaving that makes it more likely they will reach their goals.

They build on their strengths, follow certain strategies and give their people support. They also develop a more sustainable rhythm in the business.

Such teams pursue habits that increase the chances of achieving success. They switch away from trying to be all things to all customers and exhausting their people. The team members need to see that the new approach is working, however, which brings us to the next step.


People are more likely to repeat the required behaviours if they get some quick successes. This strengthens their resolve to keep working towards their long-term aims.

Looking back, can you think of a time when this happened in your own life? You may have started jogging at weekends, for example, and then developed a regular approach to exercise. Feeling the benefits, you may have begun eating nutritional food and following a more healthy lifestyle.

People who make radical shifts often put themselves into positive cycles. They take positive actions that lead to positive feelings and positive benefits. Building such habits, they sometimes look back and wonder how they survived in negative cycles.

Great teams encourage people to get some quick wins on the road to achieving the longer-term picture of success. Such teams also follow the motto:

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Good leaders explain the principles they would like people to follow to reach the team’s goals. These Dos and Don’ts are based on what is required to achieve the mission, rather than their own whim.

Such leaders start by giving people the big picture and explaining the context. So they may something like the following to their people.

The purpose of our team is:


The picture of success we want to achieve by the end
of the year that is an expression of our purpose is:




The specific benefits to each of our stakeholders – including
yourselves – of achieving the picture of success will be:




The specific principles we would like people to follow to achieve the picture
of success – including
the reasons for following these principles – are:




The specific ways that people in the team have demonstrated these
principles in the past – including specific examples – have been:




The specific things we intend to do to follow these
principles and get some quick successes in the future are:




Let us know if you would like to follow these principles and work towards achieving the goals. If so, we will then make clear contracts about how you can make your best contribution towards achieving the picture of success.

Such leaders also keep showing people what good looks like. One approach is to publish success stories that highlight when people have followed the desired principles.

Different organisations use different frameworks for publicising such stories. Here is one approach.

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Let’s return to your own life and work. Looking ahead, can you think of a situation when you may want to make a radical shift? You may want to do so when performing creative work, leading a project or tackling a particular challenge.

What would be the radical shift? What would be the benefits of taking these steps? How can you build on your successful patterns? How can you follow these principles plus maybe add other skills?

How can you follow your chosen routine? How can you get some quick successes? How can you keep encouraging yourself and achieve the desired results?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the future when you may want to make a radical shift that brings rewards.

Describe the specific things you can do to make the radical shift and get rewards.  

Describe the specific things that may happen as a result of making this radical shift and getting the rewards.

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