I have seen no better movie about personal change efforts than The King’s Speech, which is currently in theaters.

The movie is the story of Albert, the Duke of York, who suddenly became King George VI of the United Kingdom and was forced to confront his life-long struggle with stuttering.  His speech therapist, Lionel Logue, employed a number of creative strategies to help the king improve his speech and, perhaps more importantly, overcome fear.

The film is a great illustration of several important personal change strategies, many of which I have described on this website in the context of financial change.

Here is a sample:

Make change a matter of identity.  If you make your change effort a bigger part of your identity or self-image, you will be more likely to make the kinds of decisions that support your end goal.  At the same time, any change effort that violates your identity will be doomed to failure.  In the movie, as long as Albert repeated to himself “I am not a king,” he gave up easily on the actions and exercises that would ultimately help him improve his speech.  How can you make your financial change a matter of identity?  Can you begin to think of yourself differently, such as “I am a saver,” “I am a debt-eliminator,” or “I am an investor?”

Build a sense of personal efficacy.  If you start with small steps and develop a sense of mastery over small sub-goals, this will allow you to build the confidence that you have what it takes to reach your end goal.  The speech therapist who worked with the king knew that the king needed to experience an “early success” in order to strengthen his commitment to treatment.  He engineered a situation in which the king could hear a recording of himself reading a passage aloud with no stuttering.  How can you engineer a “small success” early on in order to strengthen your belief in yourself and your personal resources?

Allow emotion to be a powerful motivator.  This was the topic of last week’s blog entry.  One of the most powerful ways you can shift the balance in the direction of change is by getting your emotions involved in your change efforts.  The speech therapist knew that the king was experiencing anger, but it often got misdirected in temper outbursts rather than harnessed for constructive change.  The speech therapist used delicate maneuvers to allow the king to channel the power of his anger in the service of his treatment goal.  What aspects of your problem generate feelings of distress inside of you, and how can you use this to fuel your change efforts?

Experience vicarious learning.  If you see someone who is similar to you struggling with a similar problem and then making progress toward overcoming that problem, this will increase your confidence that you can overcome it, as well.  In the movie, Winston Churchill revealed to Albert that he, too, had a speech impediment that he worked to overcome.  It must have been comforting for Albert to realize that another high-ranking member of society had fought a similar battle.  Who do you know who is similar to you and who has made progress in working toward a similar financial goal?  How did they do it?

Utilize social support.  If you make use of social support to help you through the difficult times, you will be more likely to succeed in your change efforts.  The king’s wife and his speech therapist were two key figures who provided support to the king at the darkest points in his struggle.  Who are the key support people who will encourage you when you feel hopeless about your financial change efforts?

In case you haven’t guessed, I highly recommend this movie.  And I would like to ask my readers, what other movies would you recommend that are a tribute to personal change?

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