My friend Jim had no idea how close he was to second-tier change. Sitting on a beach in South Africa, Jim was confused and frustrated. He’d done all the right things. Obeyed the principles. Followed the prescriptions. Looking back over the last six months, he had changed. So why did he still feel so dissatisfied? So confused?
It is a great challenge to change. To learn. To grow. To adapt. To take a step forward and be better is a monumental task.
Jim had done all of this.
“It doesn’t feel like enough?” he confided to me. “I know I’m doing better, but it still seems I could be doing more.”
For most of us, we are content with any little improvement. Any microcosmic step forward is so difficult to achieve that, once done, we feel like we have won a gold medal and call it a day.
The reason Jim wanted to change was the reason many of us want to change. Something isn’t working. We’ve been doing things a certain way our entire lives. The patterns of System One thinking have established themselves. But we start to recognize some negative affects of those patterns – our system is strained.
The change in Jim’s life was pornography. He had once been addicted and now had not watched it in over six months.
Bad To Better To Best
Jim’s experience with change is not entirely unique.
We all struggle, our System One strains. And we want to not struggle. We want to make a change. So, we change from bad to good.
The problem with this is that we are not made for good. We’re not truly satisfied with good.
Jim had made the change from bad to okay. The first tier of change. He had been drowning and needed to get his head above water.
But treading water is exhausting. Until we learn to swim or, as Jesus calls to Peter – walk on water – we will only be able to hold the status quo for so long before dipping back under.
This is why change is so hard for us. We are like dog’s returning to their vomit, as the proverb so gently puts it. We recognize something negative in our lives and work out to change in order to root out that negative thing.
Second-tier change is this: to set a vision for our lives and live toward it. We get befuddled in the first place because we are not sure what it is we are doing.
Passion is a better motivator for change than correction is. Despite appearances, we’d rather fight for something than against something. The latter is simply easier and so we do it in the absence of the former.
How to change from okay to great is a vital question for humanity. One we ask too often. The concept itself was foreign to Jim:
“I’ve changed. I’m fine. Everything is okay now. So why am I still not satisfied.”
Jim decided that the absence of porn is not his calling in life. Now that he was free from the shackles of the first-tier, Jim has started to ask himself questions about what changes he wants to make to live his best life, the life he was created for.