Guess what. It's simply a basic fact. You were not born with self-discipline. All you knew was how to demand attention. And you would do whatever it took to get it. We all did. Hissy- fits worked. At least when you were two or seven or eleven.

However, taking your outdated behavior patterns with you into adulthood has serious negative implications. Sulking, avoiding, creating drama only gives you a bad reputation.

At some point, it's important to take that BSS - big scary step - and change your ways of relating.

Problem is, there is a natural tendency to want do everything all at once. Can't happen. Change is too smart to give up the old ways of responding all at once. After all, your behavior worked till now so why mess with doing it differently?

Did you ever make a change, sigh with relief, and then have it boomerang back to the old way, to what was safe and comfortable?

You want lasting change? One step at a time will get you where you want to go. Have patience.

Here's how it works.

Start small: The 3- minute plan offers you the best way to success. Do one thing, and one thing only for up to 3 minutes. Here's an example. You want to talk with your boss about what it's like when she is upset with your performance. Too soon. First, find a colleague who makes you feel stupid. I bet you can find someone who annoys you. Next, take 3 minutes and write down what you would like to say to them, if you could say whatever you want. That's it. You're done for the day.

Keep training: Next day, or even for as long as a week keep refining your words. Take up to the allotted three minutes and write out even a better way to say what you want to say. That's it. You're done.

Take a step: When ready, plan to have a short meeting with your annoying co-worker and use this as a practice run. Say what you think is your best sentence or two. Remember, keep it under three minutes.

Ask for feedback: Let them know you are ready for feedback and take it in. This is when you are about to learn the power of self-discipline. Only response that works is "thank you." No defend, explain or justify, just thank you.

Take another step: Find another situation and keep practicing. Write it out till you get it right. Then say it directly. Get feedback.

Do this until you are ready to talk with your boss. You will feel the difference. Your ability to listen, to accept feedback, to ask for help will have heightened. Your response will be strong, mature, positive.

This one simple strategy is just the tip of the iceberg. It's part of a larger system to help you win at work.

Once you have a positive result with your 3- minute action plan you will be in the right frame of mind to see the stress and tension of change as an ally and the most effective way to get where you are to where you want to be both at work and in life.

Want more useful information about leadership? Get Dr. Lafair's weekly newsletter, today.