How to Shape Development: Changing Our Own Behavior


"'There is really nothing you must be and there is nothing you must do. There is really nothing you must have and there is nothing you must know. There is really nothing you must become. However, it helps to understand that fire burns, and when it rains, the earth gets wet.'  Whatever you do,  he smiled, there are consequences, nobody is exempt. Then he winked, and bowed and walked away." -Jack Kornfield, Buddhism for Beginners

I have been contemplating these quotes for the last week.  Kornfield in this quote, makes the observation that "whatever you do, there are consequences," which is interesting.  As behavior analysts we examine the behavior of those around us, and analyze both antecedents and consequences--the environmental variables part of the behavioral contingency.  We do this in schools, homes, businesses, sports and fitness, and animal training.  Kornfield, though not a behavior analyst, a Buddhist Monk, links the above discussion with his teacher, who shared the zen saying above.  The zen saying appears to be saying there is "nothing" we MUST do, but we need to be cognizant of the fact that when we do something, there are consequences, just as "fire burns and rain makes the earth wet."

As parents, teachers, and leaders, we are often tasked with changing the behavior of those around us.  It is important to note, however; as Kornfield says "no one is exempt."  As we shape the behavior of those around us, it is important to keep in mind that our behavior is also being shaped by the environmental variables (such as consequences) that occur during the shaping process of those we support.  Oftentimes, we spend time focusing on changing the behavior of others, when sometimes, it is our own behavior that needs to change.  As we create our behavior plans and development plans, we should also be thinking about how we can change our own behavior in the process.

What are some ways we can do this?  Leave a comment below with your thoughts!


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