Have you ever thought about how a simple idea has so much power? This sentence is very much a cliché, and clichés are more important than we may think. We all have great ideas every day, and many of us dismiss them as pointless or too hard to pull off.
What if one of the ideas you’ve had, was able to make you more successful than you’ve ever known? This blog post is the story of how I came up with a simple idea of getting my friends to do a five day fast, and how it spread like wildfire.
My intention wasn’t to do anything amazing. The idea came out of pure compassion for wanting to help others to experience a positive change. I wanted their fast to be a moment in their life that they will never forget. I wanted their fast to be the catalyst for change that we could only imagine.
Like any idea for change, the act of telling my friends to fast came from when I did my own life-changing 38-day fast last year.
So, have I triggered a chain reaction? Let’s explore a bit further.
Below are the five ways you can become the catalyst for a simple idea:
1. Use one person as the proof
With any idea, you need only one person at the beginning. That’s right, not ten, not five, only one. When you have one person that has embraced your idea, you can then use them as the pin-up person and leader.
As people approach you and ask more about your idea, you use your first believer as the evidence of what is possible. With my two friends doing a fast at the same time, I paraded them around and let everyone hear their story.
There’s nothing like real life proof to demonstrate a point to people. Evidence is hard to refuse, especially when it’s right in front of your big brown eyes.
2. Ask quality questions
All I did to get this idea off the ground was ask my two friends a series of questions. You could call this a coaching session, but I prefer to call it a friendly conversation. Through this conversation, a health issue was raised.
The issue was very straightforward; my friend couldn’t get his belt to fit anymore because he had put on weight. I said to him, “how does it make you feel?” He told me that he wanted to change the situation. I asked him when, and he gave me a vague answer.
I then asked him whether he could think of any ways to solve it and then he gave me a few suggestions. All it took then was for me to add my idea of fasting to the list. Fasting is no easy task, and naturally, my friend hesitated in giving it a go.
3. Challenge people to try it
Because my friend hesitated to try my idea of fasting to be able to get his belt to fit again, I challenged him. People don’t like to be challenged, and anyone that is worth influencing with your idea won’t want to be seen as a loser.
So, I challenged my friend to start his fast on the same day. He gave me the usual excuse of let me think about it, and I told him this wasn’t going to work. It was crucial that I explained to him that he could only accept right now and commit to the change.
When he could see there was no time to think, I proposed how the fast would look and got him to fill in the blanks. I said, “How long could you fast for?” His response was “3 days.” Like any good coach, I made it five days. Then we mapped out the schedule and how it was going to work.
At this point, my friend was fired up and when I suggested a juice fast (nothing but fresh juice) he stepped up to the plate and offered to do a water fast (nothing but water – the hardest kind).
We then jointly set a start time and end time to the fast, and the wheels were in motion. It was paramount that the fast started on the same day otherwise, there was a chance that life could get in the way. Little did I know at this point, that I had become the catalyst for an idea that could become so much bigger.
“Great things can happen from ideas that are created out of a genuine need, and from a place of compassion”
4. Duplicate the success with a second person
As soon as my friend agreed to the fast, he began telling his colleagues what he was going to do. With no real pushing from my side, a second friend decided to join in. Let’s face it, it’s always more fun to do things that are challenging together than it is to do them by ourselves.
Within a few minutes of the second person signing up for the fast, they had called their wife to share the news. Unexpectedly, their wife then said they were going to join in.
Once the third person signed up for the fast, the idea had officially become a small movement. I thought to myself, What if this is how game-changing ideas spread? I’m convinced after this fasting experience that this is how all change occurs.
5. Use the leverage of leaders
A crucial part of getting people to do something that requires effort is bringing into the picture a leader that your early adopters respect. With my two fasting subjects, I emailed their people leader at their work and told them what the two of them had committed to. I listed the dates and times and asked for their support during this difficult period.
I then received an email back acknowledging what was about to transpire. There was now no way out of the fast and my two friends were committed. To stop at this point would be more painful than to follow through with their challenge.
As humans, we will do more to avoid pain than we will to gain pleasure. Knowing this fundamental flaw in our genetic makeup can do wonders for creating change that involves human beings.
Since my two friends finished their five-day fast, their friends and family have now been exposed to the idea. The other day, the same leader I mentioned earlier mentioned to me how they were conscious about what they were eating because of what they had witnessed.
At the end of the fast, it became more about the challenge I had given them. The two of them had realised that they had set a goal and achieved it. They realised that they’d done something that required a lot of willpower and is not an easy task.
For one of my test subjects, they struggled with the fast more than normal because they got headaches from the lack of coffee that they would normally be drinking. As a result, they decided to give up coffee altogether.
The thought of going back to coffee again was too painful because it had taken so much effort to go five days without it. My friend has now replaced this vice with a much healthier tea.
Once you become the seed for an idea like fasting, what I’ve realised is that the positive effects can go far beyond on what you initially expected the benefits could be. I never expected other people to join in, or for anyone to give up their favorite drink (coffee).
Next time my two friends have to deal with adversity, they will have their fasting experience to remind them of what’s possible and how willpower can get them through anything difficult time. This situation I’ve outlined is how you to can become the catalyst for a positive change. This is how movements are created.