Metanoia?-To Change Your Status Quo, Change Your Narrative!

posted by Dilip on June 13, 2018

Metanoia: noun: A profound transformation in one’s outlook.

Shifting one’s mind may sound like a daunting task, especially when you feel stuck and nothing is working to get you unstuck. But if you watch this two-minute video, changing a few words that covey a different sentiment and how others look at your situation can be a powerful reminder of how we get stuck in our own situation and fail to communicate to others what we need from them to get us unstuck.

What is happening here in this video is that the message the blind man had was about a factual status of his woes. Everyone has their woes in their own ways, so it mattered to just a few and even fewer came through, tossing change at this unfortunate man. What makes passersby numb to such pleas for help is that they are all around us and all their messages read the same to casual passersby, who have many things on their minds.

But the new message this clever woman boldly scribbled on his card had a different meaning: It emotionally conveyed to those who read it, how fortunate they were to have their sight and to enjoy the beautiful day that this person could not; it made them feel warm, thankful, and good about their own fortunate status and that feeling resulted in bringing out their generosity. When people feel good about themselves their serotonin—a hormone that makes us feel warm and good about ourselves surges through our body and it makes us do good things and appreciate good deeds. This was merely induced by the kind woman’s changing a few words, which emotionally appealed to the passersby as they read that serotonin-laden message on that blind man’s sign.

So, although metanoia may sound like a difficult thing to accomplish, choosing the right words in how you covey your situation can accomplish the same result—except that you must know what words allow you to do that. If you think how words can power different action just watch this video again and remind yourself how Winston Churchill used the power of his language and energized the country to go and fight the war!

How is this a topic for a blog on careers and jobs?

My experience as a career and life coach is that most clients who first come to me bring me a message—their résumé, elevator pitch, or a proposal to their boss for a promotion that very much conveys what they want, in a language similar to the first sign of that blind man: “I have worked hard on this job for five years without a promotion or a raise. I deserve something for my hard work.” This is how 99% of the employees who feel short-changed in their role at work approach their boss for their next promotion. This message is not much different from the first sign that the blind man was using for alms—devoid of any emotional appeal, but factually accurate.

So, what can you do to change your “sign,” when you go asking for your next promotion?

How about this when you go to your boss asking her for a promotion?

“As you know our Call Support group has received one of lowest scores from customers for a number of years. Part of the reason for these low scores is lack of a systematic script for different “use cases” our incoming calls bring. I also talked to the few members of the group and they complain that they often make up responses without a clear script that could help them be more efficient and consistent. I’d like to codify these cases and create a script for each case and provide it to all the call-center operators. I’d like to do this in the next few months and operationalize this before our next round of surveys. I expect to see a significant improvement—at least 20 points—in the scores after implementing my script. If we achieve this improvement it will reflect well on you and, and, in consideration, I’d like you to promote me to the Lead role.”


The key message here is “If we achieve this improvement it will reflect well on you,” and this triggers a different response in this employee’s supervisor. She is now imagining herself as being held as a hero after the next survey results are published and the surge of serotonin pushes her to agree to this proposal; as she is listening to this vision her mind is already basking in the glory of high C-Sat scores from the next round of surveys.

The same approach can be used in your own “use case” if you know how to frame your achievement—or idea—to help your boss and their boss with the “gift” you are going to give them. The trick here is, of course, to extract the promise of the promotion, raise, or any consideration you want before you deliver it. This is because, often, after you deliver something, most people do not realize its value and assume that what you did was your duty as a part of your job. Don’t let someone take advantage of your generosity without the consideration that you seek for doing it.

Words are powerful and how they are used in getting what you want dictates what you get. Also, remember: You do not get what you deserve; you get what you negotiate beforehand. So, be careful with how you use your language and your words to get what you deserve and what you want to get.

Good luck!