The Hard Truth; Reality and Change

Have you seen Arnold Schwarzenegger’s message to the Russian people? Watch this powerful, compelling appeal for change on Reddit Video or on YouTube.

Facts + Perspective = Reality

Truth (your reality) is the facts (your expertise, experience) through the lens of your perspective. In order to achieve a breakthrough, you need to change perspective. That is the challenge faced by leaders and change managers on a regular basis.

How do you get the perspective to change to achieve a new reality? This is a skill that is essential for leaders as they continue to move their teams into a new future. They need to make the case for change in a personal, compelling manner. This takes both practice and passion.

What Arnold did brilliantly in his message:

  1. Start with heart. He connected with his audience personally through story. He established a common, positive reality that he is “WITH the audience and FOR the audience.”

  2. Establish credibility. “There are moments like this that are so wrong, we have to speak up.” Arnold shares facts supported by his own experience. He makes himself human and connects on a person-to-person level.  It gives the listener a reason to continue to pay attention.  

  3. Make the case. There is no accusation of the person listening. They aren’t wrong. Arnold makes the case and reframes the conflict as a humanitarian crisis, supporting that conclusion with evidence of why. People need to know the why of any change.

  4. Reconnect with the heart. The conclusion is a masterful connection back to his personal experience about why seeing this invasion differently matters. He reminds people of the horrors of WWII and the impact on his father. He invites people to a new perspective by asking “Why would you sacrifice these young men for your ambitions? Why would you want to hurt your family?” Questions create an opportunity to shift perspective. In conclusion, there is respect, admiration and appreciation expressed for the courage of those who are seeing the conflict in the way Arnold frames it. This is an example of supporting role models of the change you want to see occur.

Change leadership is hard work. Inviting someone to look through a new lens sounds simple. However, for some people, their lenses seem permanently attached to their eyes. The tools of change include story, reframing, personal connection, humility and questions.

As Arnold demonstrated in this video, it starts and ends with care and compassion. As a colleague we used to work with would say, “people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

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