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A Leopard Can't Change Its Spots - Can it?

Updated: May 12


We all want to believe we have the ability to change elements about our lives and our businesses that we don’t want, but for most of us our experience of changing successfully is a bit hit and miss.


We set a target for the number of sales calls we want to make this week, resolve to deliver feedback effectively to a challenging team member or intend to assertively negotiate that new contract. Instead, we procrastinate with other work and don’t make those calls, we allow the team member to wind us up and react angrily instead of wisely and we walk away from the negotiation kicking ourselves for conceding too much, as usual. Lasting change, in our experience, is the exception rather than the rule.


As time goes on, we may even give up trying to change because the disappointment of failure is too painful. Commonly held beliefs like ‘a leopard doesn’t change its spots’ excuse us from making the effort because ‘everyone thinks like this’ so it must true.


Deep down, there is a part of us that knows it’s not true and when we see a feat of human courage or innovation, we feel inspired and dare to hope that this is possible for us, as well. Sadly, all too often our external world quickly dims that spark as ‘normal’ life takes over and we fall back into old mindsets and habits. We know this is not a fulfilling way to live but we don’t know what to do about it, so we just put up with it.


If you look at human anatomy logically, there is actually very little basic difference between those who are considered exceptional - physically or mentally - and those who are average. The difference is all in what we do with the raw materials. We’ve all heard stories about the puny guy who trained his body and became a champion athlete, or the kid who had little formal schooling but build a successful business empire through determination and self-education.


Yes, they may have had more tenacity than average, which is an essential element of change, but consciously or unconsciously, they learned to use those raw materials to their best advantage. They worked with the brain’s brilliant systems to achieve their goals.


Most of our development programmes are designed to appeal to the intellect, which, of course, has value, but our learning has got to go deeper than that, if we want to create and sustain change. What wasn’t widely appreciated until recently is that the conscious mind (the intellectual, analytical mind) only runs about 5% of the show. The other 95% is the subconscious mind which, as well as controlling the body’s functions (breathing, walking, pumping blood around the body etc) houses all our unconscious beliefs and engrained habits, and maintains them – whether they are still relevant or not. This is the operating system, and we need to access it and update our programmes in order to change.


We love intellectual learning. We can read a book, sit in a workshop or watch an online programme and think, “I know this.” Often, this is not true: we don’t know the concepts at a deep level. We understand them, can relate to them, think that they make sense but if someone asked us to repeat these ideas in depth or to demonstrate them, we wouldn’t be able to do so. From the perspective of neuroscience, when we take in new information, we form new neural connections in the neocortex but unless we revisit it, within hours or days those synaptic connections prune apart. It never makes it to the part of the brain that houses unconscious habits and skills, the cerebellum. We forget the information, nothing has changed and we’re back to square one, only a little more convinced of our propensity to fail.


Understanding how the brain functions and harnessing its power, instead of letting it run out of date default programmes is the start to creating lasting change. Working with this incredible organic computer we can access the operating system of the subconscious mind and change the out-dated beliefs, behaviours and habits that keep us stuck in the Ground Hog Movie that is our life. We can actualise our hopes and aspirations by learning and applying this knowledge, becoming the person we want to be and creating the lives and businesses we didn’t believe we could have.


This is not wishful thinking, it’s science – neuroscience – and you can learn how to apply it.


If you'd like to know more, I'd love to share some details of the Change Your Mind...Create New Results programme I deliver, as one of Dr Joe Dispenza's NeuroChangeSolutions Consultants. Email me, hello@phenomenal-people.com or click the Book a Call link at the top of the page and we'll have a conversation to find out if it's a fit for you.

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