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4 Steps to Unlocking Potential & Creating Lasting Change


We all have some degree of “immunity” to change.

Have you ever wondered why REAL change can be so hard to make, even when we desperately WANT to make it?

When it comes to setting goals, we’re usually aware of the obvious reasons for why we SHOULD do the thing (or stop doing the thing).

We think that if we can just get clear enough on how bad that habit is for us, we’ll be motivated to change. We’ll “just do it”.

And if we fail? Well, then we just didn’t want it enough.

The next thing you know, we’re blaming ourselves and calling ourselves names (lazy, weak, undisciplined, pathetic)… and we give up, get stuck, or feel like we’re incapable of change.

ENTER: A breakthrough discovery from Dr. Lisa Laskow Lahey & Robert Kegan, Immunity to Change, enlightening us to the idea that our good intentions ALONE can only get us so far.

If we want to create lasting & enduring change, we have to DIG DEEPER – and grow our awareness of the thoughts & feelings underneath, to truly understand how we might be working against our own goal.

In other words, we have to KNOW OURSELVES (hello, emotional intelligence!)

And thankfully, Lisa & Robert have developed a brilliant 4-step framework, built just for the job.

Want to try it out with me?
Column 1:
What is it that you really, really want to change?

It starts with getting clarity about the goal, commitment, or change we want to make in our life.

Here are 3 features of a really great goal:

  • It’s important to you. If you were to give this a rating on a 1-10 scale (1 being not very important & 10 being extremely), what would you say this is, and why?
  • It’s about YOUR behaviour. It’s about being self-accountable – not system-blaming! So make sure your goal is something within your control (e.g. “I want to…” instead of “I want my team to…”)
  • It’s positively stated. Describe what you DO want, rather than what you DON’T want (e.g. “I want to be more intentional about what I put into my body”, instead of “I want to stop eating chocolate”). This gives us a better path forward for healthy striving.
Column 2:
What are all the things you do (& don’t do) that work against this goal?

It’s time for an honest self-inventory. You’ve got this!

List all of the behaviours that are keeping you from the goal you named in column 1.

Try asking yourself the A.W.E. question (“and what else?”) at least 3-4 times, to make sure you’re leaving no stone unturned.

3 things to keep in mind:

  • Stick to the facts, and only the facts. We want to keep it totally behavioural at this stage – we’ll be exploring our underlying thoughts and feelings soon!
  • Stay out of judgement. Berating ourselves rarely results in long-term positive change. Stay grounded in mindfulness, shared humanity and self-kindness.
  • Hold off on problem-solving. I know it’s tempting – but don’t jump into “fix-it” mode just yet! Trust the process.
Column 3:
When you imagine yourself doing the opposite of those behaviours, what worries come up for you?

Here, we want to identify our worries, which will reveal our “competing commitments”… that is, the underlying thoughts and feelings that are driving the behaviours we listed in column 2.

Go through each behaviour one by one, or choose the one behaviour that you feel most compelled to change.

When you imagine yourself doing the OPPOSITE of that behaviour, what’s the biggest worry that comes up for you?

Most people find that this is by far the toughest step – it requires us to “embrace the suck” (as Brené Brown would say) and face what we’re really feeling & thinking, underneath the surface.

Column 4:
What assumptions are you making about yourself, others, and the world, that explain why you’re holding onto these competing commitments?

Our “big assumptions” are the stories we’re making up about ourselves and others. Sometimes, those stories come from a place of fearfulness – scarcity, comparison, & shame.

When we become aware of the assumptions that we’ve been unconsciously working from, we see that our behaviours aren’t bad… they’re actually brilliant! They’re serving a purpose; to meet our need to feel safe & secure. To protect us.

The problem? If we leave that scared part of ourselves unchecked, it can wield a powerful influence over our behaviour. And as we discovered, right now, those behaviours aren’t helping us get where we really want to be.

If we can find it within ourselves to sit with our deeper assumptions, to really think about them & challenge them, we give ourselves the power to actively CHOOSE what we do.

So, the final step (once you’ve got your “map”) is to reality-check those assumptions you named. What evidence do you have that prove, or disprove, this assumption? Are there ways you can test how accurate it is?

I’ve given it a go with a professional goal of mine – check it out below. (Hello, vulnerability!)

Why not draw up a table with four columns, & have a go yourself?

My goalBehaviours that keep me from my goalMy competing commitmentsMy big assumptions
I want to be more clear & consistent in how I communicate with my colleagues (in our hybrid working model) and in how I follow systems & processes.I prioritise relationships and creative flow over systems & processes. The unintended consequence of this is that I don’t always follow agreed-upon systems, and others get frustrated.

I don’t always prioritise attending internal meetings. An unintended consequence is that others feel out of the loop and we fall out of alignment.
If I were to always follow systems & processes, my biggest worry is that we’d miss opportunities, because we would become inflexible & lose responsiveness to our client’s flow & bespoke needs.

If I always prioritised internal meetings, my biggest worry is that I would be sacrificing time to be creative, and I’m at my happiest when I am designing, coaching, facilitating & connecting with people.
Scarcity – that we will lose the client if we’re not flexible and responsive enough.

That I’m one of few who can create & design bespoke programs for our clients.

How did it feel going through your own “Immunity to Change” map? What was one insight you gained through the process?

If you uncovered some deep stuff, you’re certainly not alone. We all have an “immunity to change” in areas of our lives. It’s part of being human!

Think of the Immunity to Change Approach as the CATERPILLAR process, necessary for the beauty of the butterfly.

If you haven’t had a chance yet, you really won’t want to miss Brene Brown’s podcast episodes with Lisa Lahey herself (Part 1 and Part 2). It’s truly a masterclass in Coaching!

Do you want to become a master of change?

Book a free Discovery Call with me, where we can explore ways in which the team at Courageous Leadership Hub can support you on your quest for courage.


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