Why Personal Transformation is Necessary for Organizations

By Debbie Rodrigo
April 17, 2023

Personal Transformation is at the heart of ALL transformation.

When viewed from the lens of organizational transformation, what does this really mean? 

If you wonder why nothing seems to change in your company — employees are always making excuses, blaming someone else when something goes wrong, or complaining about customers, co-workers, or conditions; questioning ways of thinking (Why does HR like making things so complicated for us?), or doing (This process is completely unnecessary and irrelevant.), or even being (Why is humility a core value when all the big bosses have such big heads?) — it could very well be because YOU, yourself, have not transformed. Yes, you. 

I like to use Jack Canfield — better known for his book franchise Chicken Soup for the Soul than for his The Success Principles — and his formula for success:

E + R = O

Where E stands for Event, R for Response, and O for Outcome. Sounds simple enough, but hard to put to practice.

Let me give you some examples to help you understand it better. 

A third party auditor conducts an annual audit on your company to ensure that all products are safe for end consumers. The grade you receive will give your customer the level of comfort they need to keep buying from you; it will also determine how often you will need to be re-audited. The certification you receive reflects the amount of work and adherence to policies, procedures, and protocols you put in for your company. Without this, you cannot continue to serve your customers, as they will not buy from a company that cannot assure them that their products and services are at the highest level of safety and quality.

Now, you decide what kind of outcome you want: AA+ means you have 5 or less minor non-conformances (audit speak for findings against a clause in the standard that you are being audited against) in an audit that was unannounced (meaning you have to be ready at any time) as indicated by the plus sign; A means 6-10 minor non-conformances; B, 11-16 minors or 1 major and no more than 10 minors; and so on.

Using the formula E+R=O above, if your desired OUTCOME is AA+, which will allow you to have access to the best (and most) number of customers, and the EVENT is an annual 2.5-day audit, what do you think your RESPONSE should be?

I’ve seen companies faced with this sudden requirement and they think that cramming and DIYing the process can result in the highest grade. Guess what? The best they could do was either a B or a C, or even more disastrously, a D — any of which means they don’t get the customers they want, and they need to be re-audited every 6 months instead of every 12. 

The correct RESPONSE would be to explain to everyone (yes, everyone) in the organization what the Safety Certification means for the company, and from there, start developing the policies, procedures, and protocols needed to enact it throughout the entire organization — all the while teaching, training, explaining, collaborating, and creating with all the stakeholders the necessary documents, processes, and systems. So, no, hiring one person to head a Quality Department and do all the paperwork and make sure things run smoothly is not going to cut it. The auditor can smell a fake a mile away.

Now what does personal transformation have to do with all this E+R=O stuff I’m talking about?

In the example I gave, this means that everyone in the organization needs to demonstrate what E+R=O  means from that audit perspective. Starting from the top.

Now, say that a new system is being implemented, and it requires everyone who enters a restricted area to remove all jewelry, and log in everything on their body that has glass or hard plastic in it — from their watch to their cellphone, eyeglasses, and maybe even a Swarovski-encrusted jacket favored by female middle-aged executives in the 1990s. There is a form that requires self-declaration of any glass- or hard plastic- containing item you happen to have on you, which you have to put in a nice little lockbox for safekeeping. As a big boss, it’s easy to say, “Who’s going to call out my eyeglasses?” or “I’ll just keep my cellphone in my pocket where no one will notice it.” or even, “No way am I parting with my Swarovski.” 

Do you realize what you just did?  You showed them the RESPONSE of “There are always exceptions to the rule” and thus forced an OUTCOME of “We practice everything all the time EXCEPT WHEN it’s inconvenient for the boss.”  What a powerful message this sends out to the team —  one of which is, “As long as I don’t get caught, there’s nothing wrong with it” and the worst being, “If the boss can do it and get away with it, so can I.”

Personal transformation at the heart of corporate transformation means that YOUR RESPONSE, in every situation, affects the organization. And the same goes for everyone else down the line. If even one person in a critical department has in their mind that there is always an exception to every rule, their response will be “I’ll follow when they’re looking, but not when they’re not” and the outcome will be an inconsistent, incomplete, and incongruous application of the systems and processes, which, mind you, nearly every auditor worth their weight, will find.

How do we know that the RESPONSES are not going to generate the OUTCOMES that we want? If you hear any complaining, blaming, excuse-making, justifying, or defending in your company, that’s a sure sign. Why? Because it simply means that the persons doing the complaining, blaming, etc. know that there is a BETTER OUTCOME possible, but they’re not willing to risk creating that outcome. They know that a consistent application of the policies and procedures will result in the practice becoming the norm, but they can’t be bothered to remember them. And so they will invariably say, “The person manning the entrance forgot to give me the form” or “I didn’t think my watch qualified as glass or hard plastic” or “It didn’t make any sense to me” or “I didn’t think it was important.” Clearly, the correct responses would have been, “I asked for the form” or “I asked if the watch needed to be taken off and stored” and “I want to understand why I need to do this.”

Correct responses to these events show that the person is practicing 100% responsibility through a mastery of the E+R=O. 

Step one is now out of the bag. But wait, there’s more! 

While practicing E+R=O is the first crucial (and dare I say, the hardest) step to personal transformation, it isn’t the only one. We liken it to a combination lock. You may have the numbers, but if you don’t know the order of the numbers, the lock won’t open for you.

The second step is rediscovering your passion. Wait, what? How does passion play into this whole drama? 

No one likes disempowered employees. Even less liked are sullen, joyless ones. Have you ever stopped to think about the role that passion plays in each of our lives? How long do you think each one can go on working by sheer willpower? You may not know it but that reliable bookkeeper in Accounting secretly watches KDramas every night. Or that well-loved and cheerful vice-president of operations plays golf very early in the morning, three times a week, before work. That calm and serene middle manager in HR? She spends every Saturday morning sharing Bible stories with teenage girls in an orphanage. 

Everyone has a passion. Mine’s urban cycling on weekends to check out a new coffee place that serves Kohi coffee and Japadogs and has no car parking because it’s literally on the sidewalk. My kids know when I haven’t gotten any rides and some sun. I am literally that mogwai that got wet and was fed after midnight — I become a gremlin. We all do when we’ve not nurtured what we are passionate about. 

Step two done. The last step? Find your Why. 

The meaning of life, according to Viktor Frankl, is in finding a purpose, in taking responsibility for ourselves and for other human beings.

What is your life purpose? Why do you do the things that you do? Why are you working in this company doing this thing, and not that company doing something else? 

Determining our life purpose, through introspection — by determining what unique personal qualities we possess, by how we enjoy using those qualities when interacting with others, and by our visualization of our ideal world — enables us to craft a statement that can help guide us through life’s inevitable rough patches. I am an advocate of the written statement, as it serves as a reminder of how we are always on a path to personal growth, and that searching for fulfillment — of our life purpose in particular — can be the most powerful catalyst for transformation.

None of these prescriptions are overnight fixes, and there really should be none. Transformation is a moving target — an idealized goal that we spend our entire lifetime pursuing. 

My own life statement reads: “To educate and empower people to heal themselves, in order to build and create loving communities.” 

You might wonder how that aligns with any transformational work. That’s a good question. I choose to read it to mean that the work that I do which is, essentially, teaching people how to become self-healers — by taking personal responsibility, by injecting passion into our lives, by pursuing our life purpose — and you can read that term as broadly or as narrowly as you want – allows people to become the best versions of themselves. By doing that, they in turn become catalysts for growth,  enabling everyone around them to be inspired to do the same (“he/she did it, so can I!”). From that single seed of growth, they are able to build communities that practice loving principles, which yes, the world certainly could use more of nowadays. You can choose to replace the term loving with trusting/efficient/respectful/empowering/transformative/dedicated, etc.  

After all, each organization IS a community.

Debbie Rodrigo runs workshops entitled “Find Your Why” where she teaches participants to take 100% responsibility for their life and their results, find passion in what they’re doing, and craft their life purpose statements and align that with the organizations they work in. She also teaches on Creativity and Innovation, and marries these lessons into her own personal life as she constantly strives to innovate herself on her path to personal transformation. 

Head over https://www.firespringsconsulting.com/contact-us/  or email us at info@firespringsconsulting.com to “Find Your Why” and start your Personal Transformation with our Transformation Strategist, Debbie Rodrigo.