In this article, we explore the primary reason so many people fail to make lasting changes. How to apply the principles of Physics to solve problems and identify the TRUE CAUSE of why things happen.

cause-and-effect-001A lot of people confuse causes with effects. This prevents them from taking ownership of their lives, careers, and relationships.

To get a different result (WHAT) all you have to do is identify the cause (WHY) make an appropriate change in the cause and the effect (RESULT) will change accordingly.

If you are experiencing any undesirable outcomes or effects in your life, these effects are caused by something or someone. If you want to change your outcome, identify what is the action or force that is the cause, change it, and your outcome will change.

This may seem like a very simple concept, however, most people mix up causes with effects and end up changing the wrong things and wondering why they fail to get the results they are after!

Sounds oh so simple and yet it is very difficult to do without a basic understanding of physics.

Consider Newton’s Third Law:

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This means that in every interaction, there is a pair of forces. The forces are equal. Thus for every force behind an effect, there is an equal and opposite force that is the cause.

Based on the physics outlined above, the key to lasting change is to use the force of the outcome or effect to identify the opposite force that is the cause. Once the force of the cause is understood, the cause and its force can be changed, thus transforming the outcome.

Another way to think about this is in terms of Causes and Symptoms. Consider the below Ishikawa Diagram of Peter, his headache and his problems at work:

cause-and-effect-002Let’s take a more in-depth look at Peter’s story:

Peter was experiencing regular headaches. These headaches where almost every day and seriously interfered with Peter’s work. Over time his performance suffered and he was at risk of being demoted or fired. Peter became irritable and moody. Much of his work was performed on a personal computer and he often found himself squinting at the screen trying to make out the text on the screen.

In order to perform his work duties, Peter became more and more frustrated and eventually resorted to stronger and stronger painkillers to minimize the headaches. The medication had side-effects and his body retained more and more water, which caused his face to puff up. So not only did Peter have headaches, he treated the pain with painkillers which made him look puffy and overweight! Some days the painkillers barely even worked and he struggled through the pain.

Peter shared his work problems with Sophie his wife. She worried about the potential lost income if Peter were demoted or fired and gave him career advice to put in more effort, work longer hours and not upset his boss.

Meeting a group of friends on Friday evening for drinks, Peter confided in an old classmate who happened to be a nutritionist. She suggested that headaches may be caused by his diet, and recommended that Peter eliminates certain foods to identify the culprit. Weeks later, nothing seemed to be working!

Clearly, neither Peter, his wife Sophie, nor his nutritionist friend had identified the real cause of his underperformance. If nothing changed, things would progressively worsen.

Turns out that the cause of Peter’s low performance wasn’t his moodiness, nor his headaches. These both turned out to be effects or symptoms. The real cause was two-fold: 1) His chair was old and set too low and leaning too far back. This caused neck strain which contributed to headaches and 2) Peter had neglected to have his eyes tested for several years and his prescription glasses were out of focus!

Once Peter got a new chair and a new pair of glasses his headaches disappeared overnight, his mood improved, and his work performance skyrocketed resulting in a promotion with a 30% increase in his salary!

You may be thinking this is a simple example. As you can see there is a lot to learn here that can be applied to any problem area once you clearly understand the difference between CAUSE and EFFECT.

Primary & Secondary Causes:

Everything that happens is an EFFECT that was CAUSED by something. Nothing occurs without something else causing it to happen.  For example, a glass that was sitting on the table does not fall onto the floor by itself. A person walking by may bump the table, causing the glass to fall off the table, onto the floor, and breaking into pieces.

In this example, the EFFECT was the broken glass. The CAUSE was the person who placed the glass too close to the edge of the table, which then combined with the person walking by. Often times, we get upset and angry at the EFFECT — and never really identify the CAUSE. Blaming the person who walked by and bumped the glass doesn’t solve the problem. Yelling at them, punishing them, getting them back later… all achieve nothing as the TRUE CAUSE has not been identified. Since the CAUSE in this example was the person when they placed the glass on the edge of the table, the person walking by only played into it and therefore was the SECONDARY CAUSE.

Without the true Cause being identified, no lasting change is possible. For most of us, when something happens that we don’t want, don’t like, or detest, we blame the SECONDARY CAUSE rather than the TRUE CAUSE. And we can make all the changes to Secondary Causes we like – only to discover that our results remain unchanged.

Want Lasting Change?

If you want lasting change in any area, identify the TRUE CAUSES and change them. What is the TRUE CAUSE of a lack of leadership? or the lack of money? If you are experiencing financial difficulties or investment losses, what is the TRUE CAUSE? Think about it. Have you identified Primary Causes or are you focusing on Secondary Causes?

The Invisible Forces:

Most people are at the effect of other forces. These forces can be unresolved relationships, emotions, past decisions or other people. Whenever we engage in blaming other people or circumstances for our results, we are postulating that we are at the effect of something outside our control. This prevents us from making any changes. In other words, we are BEING AT EFFECT.

We all know people who are perpetual victims. No matter what they do, someone or something else is always the cause of their problems. These people are denying any CAUSE, which creates a powerful force to perpetually place them at EFFECT. In order to get out of being a victim, they would have to remove the energy of denial and see the truth that they can make a small adjustment and move perspectives to identify where they are CAUSING their own problems. From this new perspective they can own the CAUSE, make changes and transform their results.

To take responsibility for your results means that you are BEING AT CAUSE by looking for where you can apply conscious and deliberate force to the cause in order to alter the cause, which in turn alters the outcome or result.

The fastest way to determine if a person is operating AT CAUSE or AT EFFECT is to listen to their language. People who take responsibility or ownership of both problems and solutions are operating AT CAUSE, versus people who avoid ownership by blaming are pretending to be AT EFFECT.

When you are recruiting team members, partners or suppliers, listen to their language. Choose people who are AT CAUSE or at least willing and open to exploring where they might become more AT CAUSE.

How Does This Apply To Designing An Ideal Outcome?

The challenge for most people is that they spend a good deal of time being AT EFFECT and not often being AT CA– USE of their life, career, relationships, health, etc. Designing and living your ideal life requires you to be AT CA– USE. This simply means making decisions and operating from the perspective of causing or SOURCING what you want, versus accepting the effects of others.

In order to cause or source what you want, you must be able to be AT CAUSE and AT EFFECT. Sounds confusing, but it is quite simple:

  • When you avoid being AT CAUSE, you automatically put yourself AT EFFECT. If you run away from something, you are at the effect of the thing you are running away from.
  • When you are AT EFFECT, it causes you to be in REACTION to what is happening to you. Reacting to things that happen to you is very different from RESPONDING. Responding has you being AT CAUSE.
  • If you just want to be CAUSE and avoid effect, you automatically put yourself at EFFECT.
  • As a leader you are AT CAUSE, on the other hand, as a follower, you are AT EFFECT. This is why a lot of people don’t want to follow others — they don’t want to be AT EFFECT of them. Choosing who you follow puts you AT CAUSE over the effect of the person you are following! (now that is a dichotomy!)

The bottom line is that in order to be in The Zone, we need to master being CAUSE, and being EFFECT.  Being Effect means being able and willing to experience anything. Sounds tough, but that is where true freedom is.