Thought #1 – Making change stick is incredibly difficult…
If you’re anything like me, there are plenty of improvements you’d like to make in your life. Whether it’s eating more healthy food, being more organized, or spending more time with your friends and family, my experience working with people is that we all have some things we’d like to improve/change. And we have really good intentions when it comes to making changes stick; it’s in the execution and the ability to stick with it that we struggle. Why is this? Most people assume (falsely) that our inability to make change stick is due to a lack of will power or commitment. However, this is proven incorrect when we take into account the groundbreaking research that Dr. Robert Kegan and Dr. Lisa Lahey did in preparing to write their book Immunity to Change. They found that even when people are faced with needing to make changes in their lives that are a matter of life or death, even then people struggle to make change stick. Patients are told that if they take a certain medication, their chances of survival are quite high, yet one year later only 1 in 7 are taking the medication. Why is this???
Leaving this “why” question unanswered is one of the major issues in making change stick in our lives. Our false assumption that an inability to change is due to lack of will leads us to believe that we can simply will ourselves to make it happen. What Kegan and Lahey found is that we must go beyond the will to change and uncover our immunity to change. Revisiting the patients being told to take medication, what Kegan and Lahey found was that the patients were more committed to something else than they were to their own health…they reported that taking the medication made them feel old and they were more committed to not feeling old than they were to their health. They literally had an immunity to it and therefore rejected anything that flew in the face of their larger commitment.
If you have a goal…something you want to change that would have a big impact for you and for others…don’t just believe you can will yourself to do it for the long-term. You must uncover what it is that you are more committed to than you are to that goal. It is only in this process that we can take the foot off the brake and accelerate fully into making change stick. If you are interested in learning more about this, feel free to reach out to me. I am certified in the Immunity to Change process by Kegan and Lahey, and I have helped lots of people and teams set goals and achieve them through this exciting process.
Thought #2 – Be the “trim tab”
There’s a whole lot of stuff happening in our country and world today, and something I am hearing a lot from people is “I want to do more to help but these issues seem so big and entrenched I don’t know what to do.” Whether it’s the social justice issues we are facing with the Black Lives Matter movement or the myriad issues that are coming up around COVID-19, I hear and see a lot of overwhelm that leads people to throw their hands up and say “I don’t know what I can do about this.”
There’s a metaphor I like to use with my coaching clients when discussing big, complex issues that they are wanting to work on but don’t know how to take the first step. I compare the issue they are dealing with to a large container ship that is navigating a trans-Atlantic trip. These boats are enormous and difficult to steer, but they must be nimble enough to maneuver through tight spaces at times. The rudders for these boats are quite large (about four stories tall) and it takes a lot of energy and time to turn the rudder to make the ship turn. The genius of engineering saw this problem and installed a smaller rudder on the large rudder that is called the trim tab. Turn the trim tab the opposite way that you want to go and it moves the larger rudder into position more quickly to make the turn. It is the competing force of the little trim tab that turns the boat more quickly.
Many of the issues we are facing today are similar to the large boat. It seems like a monumental task to turn the wheel to move the rudder to turn the boar just a small degree. We therefore keep sailing away in the same direction hoping the waves will push us where we need to go. My challenge to you is to be the trim tab in whatever issue you are dealing with. Find the small, incremental steps you can take to push the rudder and turn the ship more quickly. Each change you make in your individual behavior creates that force that can sail us into calmer waters. We must stop looking at social or institutional change as something that happens in large, dramatic turns. It’s the micro actions from various sources that bring about lasting change. Find your opportunity to be the trim tab.
Thought #3 – All we are is awareness
Last week, on our collective consciousness call, I led a meditation where we experienced awareness prior to it being qualified by our thoughts, emotions, and sensations and perceptions. In that meditation, I quoted a 14th century poet Lalla who said “I traveled a long way seeking god, but when I finally gave up and turned back there he was within me.” I replace the word “god” here with peace and fulfillment because I believe these are the things we are all searching for in our lives. We have different words and concepts to describe it, but if you really dig into what people are searching for it is a sense of lasting peace and fulfillment.
Peace and fulfillment are not things that we have to search for outside of ourselves. Even our meditation practices seem to be striving for something they we must attain through countless hours of practice. As is stated in Lalla’s quote above, however, we have access to peace and fulfillment at all times…and it can be accessed through the practice called The Direct Path. This practice allows us to see that we are, at our core, simply awareness. We are not our thoughts, our emotions, our sensations, or our perceptions. We are awareness. If you want to get a sense for how it feels to connect with your fundamental nature, your awareness, check out the recording from last week’s collective consciousness call: https://youtu.be/C312L13BERw. The more time you can spend living as awareness itself, the more you can experience lasting peace and fulfillment.