5 Qualities for Sustainable Change – The HOW Matters

To truly bring a vision to fruition requires attending to not only what happens but also to how it happens. Actions matter, although it’s the nature of their execution that’s the difference-maker. Yes, bringing others along can feel like things are going too slow, although that’s usually just in the short term; the momentum it creates downstream tends to carry the team further than they could have imagined.  Five qualities, that anyone and everyone on the team can embrace, have the power to carry a team and organization toward their vision.

Everything you are going through is preparing you for what you asked for. ~Unknown


Identify clear and meaningful outcomes and create a plan to achieve them. Then, open to the many, often unexpectedly delicious ways things can unfold. We work in an ever-increasingly complex marketplace where organizations morph and change rapidly, and teams are increasingly diverse. Given this, how can we possibly know all the pathways to a desired outcome? What worked in the past doesn’t always work in the present. Group dynamics, whether bold or subtle, can invite things we didn’t dream of. Apparent obstacles arise, inviting us to shift our pathway, overcome challenges, and head boldly in new directions. Rather than force a plan or resist a shift from plan, sometimes the answer is to follow the energy.

  • Are we passionate about our purpose and the outcomes we want to achieve?
  • How tightly or loosely do we hold the details of our plan?
  • How do we engage with the unexpected?
  • What are we experiencing right now and what does it mean for how we proceed?

Be the change you wish to see in the world.  ~Mahatma Gandhi


What does it look like for someone to be or move toward the envisioned change? If you are bringing resilience to your organization, for example, you might show up with energy and role model with passion the actions you are inviting others to take, such as walking meetings, taking nourishment breaks, and so forth. If you are bringing mindfulness to your business, then personifying these qualities, for example, could invite others in: being present, having a sense of calm, making conscious decisions, and taking actions that lead to greater awareness. While it’s the outward energy others experience and actions others see, what matters most is your truly believing in what you are promoting.

  • How am I in alignment with the change?
  • Is there integrity between my actions and my words?
  • How do I embody what’s different?
  • How do I personify what’s possible?
  • What do I invite for others?

We rise by lifting others. ~Robert Ingersol


Affirming the value that each person contributes is important. People want to be seen and appreciated – first for who they are, and then for what they accomplish. Each person on the team and the way each team interacts is special in a unique way that deserves celebrating. Just think about how you feel when you are seen and heard. Dare to imagine what might be possible if everyone felt like that. There is something very powerful in a culture filled with gratitude for each member of the team, the collective body, and the circumstances that will enable something new to emerge.

  • How often do I pause to appreciate what is happening?
  • How do I honor others who are part of the creative process?
  • How is this individual moving us toward our desired outcomes?
  • Do I believe in the members of my team and do they know it?

Noticing. What a gift. ~Byron Katie


Awhile back I watched a NOVA program about the discovery of copper, iron, and steel, and the smelting process and alloy-making. Did you know that all of that happened by chance? People were not in laboratories actively experimenting, they were paying attention to what was happening as they interacted with the world. As we engage with each other, what might be possible if we notice and truly pay attention to what’s going on within us, with others, and around us? Often we are so focused on responding and taking action that we miss the opportunity to be present for the experience of the moment.

  • What are we experiencing?
  • What ideas, energy, feelings are surfacing now?
  • What’s possible because of who we are, what we know, and how we feel in this moment?

I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than closed by belief. ~Gerry Spence


In this same NOVA program about metals, a woman was featured who discovered how to make metal from plastic garbage. What we see and judge as useless waste, with an open mind, can be put to good use. What we believe can limit what’s possible. There’s opportunity in openness.

  • What beliefs are limiting my perspective right now?
  • What would it look like if I were completely open about what’s possible from here?


Vicki Flaherty
Vicki Flaherty
VICKI FLAHERTY creates and spreads joy in the world through one-on-one coaching to support individuals being their best, facilitating mindfulness and resilience-related experiences, blogging about leadership and life, and capturing moments of joy through her photography and poetry. She believes in being present in the moment, focusing on what really matters, honoring every individual, listening from a place of openness and caring, examining issues from different perspectives, and acting with passion, courage, and creativity. The common thread of her career is that every step involves helping people succeed. As an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, she designed a variety of people-focused experiences such as onboarding, mentoring, career development, and talent management programs for organizations. She’s created leadership, mindfulness and resilience programs for a Fortune 50 company, and is most fulfilled when facilitating experiences that help people lead their lives with clarity, intention, and authenticity, and that encourage health and wellbeing. She loves taking long walks along the Iowa River, cooking delicious food, and traveling with her husband, and she enjoys yoga, gardening, writing, and photography. Follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter, and subscribe to her blogs: Leading with Intention, And Then Opens Possibility, Where Possibility Awaits, the joyfull eye, and the small things.

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