Tender Heart, Tough Hide

I’ve recently learned something from Joseph Grenny, a leading social scientist for business performance:

  • There are six sources of influence that are either working for you or against you,
  • You can profoundly change the way you feel about any choice by changing the frame of the decision, and
  • Change requires both motivation and skill.

For example, we all know that saving money is a good behavior, however it does not always feel good.  Why?  Because saving money because our parents told us to save doesn’t anchor the behavior to an aspiration.  In this frame, saving money is painful because we see it as delaying our immediate gratification.  We can’t buy what we want today.

However, what if we change the frame?  What if we save money for a down payment on a house so that we can provide a dignified home to our family.  Now the behavior is anchored to a noble goal.  Now the good behavior feels good.

That’s only half the battle.  We have the motivation, but do we know how to save?  What is the best way to engage in the deliberate practice of saving?  We may have to learn a new skill, i.e. set up automatic monthly transfers from your checking to your savings account.  Pay yourself before you spend.

This example address two of the six sources of influence:  Personal Motivation and Personal Ability.  See the table below for the other four.

Six Sources of Influence (with Change Tactics)
Six Sources of Influence (with Change Tactics)

I’m not going to address the other dimensions in this blog, however I do recommend Joseph Grenny’s book, Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success.

Now, if you find this area of social science fascinating, as I do, then I’d like to address the posture you must have to seek the change this rubric addresses.  In my opinion, you must have a tender heart and tough hide.  Be kind and compassionate to others, forgiving as needed and being secure in the fact that you are forgiven.  Only then can you maintain a “front sight focus” on the task at hand.

Here’s how that is accomplished:

  • Recognize no one is perfect
  • Relinquish the right to get even
  • Respond to evil with good
  • Repent your transgressions
  • Receive forgiveness
  • Request help, strength and clarity daily from God
  • Refocus your mind by replacing negative sources with positive sources of influence

We don’t have time to harbor resentment, guilt or envy.  It’s foolish, senseless and illogical.  If you think back over the experiences in your own life, you’ll probably agree.  We can do silly things when we’re caught up in them.  When we cave, we act in self-destructive ways.  We do really dumb things, and it makes us miserable in the process.

We can spend all our time “keeping up with the Joneses”, or we can forget them and reduce our stress level.  We can’t have both.

The best way forward is to acquire a tender heart and tough hide.  Master the six sources of influence to help good behaviors feel good and bad feel bad.  Then you’ll be on the path to a meaningful life, the one God intended for you.

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