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A recent conversation drifted towards the subject of transformation, as opposed to transaction. We were talking specifically about business performance and business growth but the conversation was hugely beneficial for me personally because it caused me to refocus on transformation.

They say that a fish discovers water last. Because it is so pervasive, because it is all around them, they don’t notice it, in much the same way as we take air for granted along with many other things. As a business coach transformation is my stock in trade. It is what I promise. It is what I deliver and it too can become commonplace enough so as to risk being taken for granted.

The recent conversation caused me to refocus and review what I understood and thought about transformation, so I looked it up again. I often do that. It is useful to read how other people define the words we use frequently. Another perspective will inform and educate. Transformation was defined in layman’s terms as changing one thing into another, unsurprisingly. So turning a performer into a great performer, turning a technician into a manager, turning a manager into a leader, turning a leader into a rock star leader would all be acts of transformation.

We often contrast transformational change with transactional change. Transactional refers to what we do. Transformational refers to who we are. At the moment much of the nation is entranced with this year’s ‘Strictly Come Dancing”. If you think about the changes that occur over the series the competitors first of all learn the steps, they learn how to dance, often in a mechanical and laboured fashion. This is transactional. As they progress, some of them will not only master the steps and the movements (the transactional part) but they may also become dancers, perhaps even good, or maybe, great dancers. This is the transformational part. You will hear it in their language, which will morph from “I am learning to do the foxtrot” to “We are performing the waltz”. The focus moves from ‘doing’ (the foxtrot), which is transactional to “being” (performers) which is when the transformation has happened.

Transformation isn’t about putting in what was left out, but about drawing out what was already in there.

A business leader who is focussed on the purely transactional (what people do) is probably not really a leader. Manager might be a better description. A real leader is, by their very nature, transformational. They help draw out of people what is already in there. They help people to perform and to live their lives at an altogether higher level. To be better than they were yesterday, everyday.

We all have the potential to have a transformational effect on the world we live in by helping the people around us to perform closer to their potential. Lets start today. Lets start with ourselves.