A number of years ago I was given a quirky little book by Mac Anderson and Tom Feltenstein called “Change is Good, You Go First”. The sub-title is 21 Days to Inspire Change. Ironically, the publish date for this little gem was 2007, when change was happening, for sure, but could not be more relevant now when the accelerated rate of change far exceeds anything these authors could have predicted 16 years ago.
Recently, a new book by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey, called Immunity to Change, has caught my attention because it’s taking change thinkers and theorists by storm. According to the authors, immunity to change is “an inability to change because of deep-rooted assumptions and conflicting commitments. These may be so entrenched that they are unconscious.” It feels like having your foot on both the brakes and the gas at the same time. At best you’re lurching forward a few feet at a time, at worst, you’re spinning your wheels and not moving an inch.
It can look like this. You want to move forward, you have a clear vision of where you want to go, but you can’t seem to make any headway and it’s taking a ton of your energy just trying to figure out why you’re not moving. How many times have you had a clear and compelling vision to . . . lose weight, level up our leadership skills, take that big trip you’ve been dreaming about, start the business that’s been percolating in your mind and heart for years, quit the job that’s draining your soul . . . you fill in the blank.
That’s because unconscious assumptions and stories are propping up your internal fears. The primary desire of your subconscious is to keep you safe. When you set out to do something hard or out of your comfort zone, it senses danger and will try to stop you. If you don’t understand why or how you are benefitting from not taking the leaps you desire, your right foot will remain firmly on the brakes.
Brené Brown invited Lahey onto her popular podcast (find it here) where she personally underwent a very vulnerable, live, on-air session that was truly transformative. This 2-part session is truly worth a listen as it demonstrates how this process works to get people unstuck.
All this to say that change will continue to be one of the only constants in our world and business leaders who cannot navigate – with great agility and openness – the changes their businesses will face, won’t succeed in the long run. To truly work through change on a deep level, we have to understand how our brains and bodies are wired to respond to change and work with it toward a strong understanding of the underlying fears keeping us stuck.
As a business owner, your relationship with and response to change will 100% impact your ability to be successful both now and in the future. So how about a new book title (for business or life) – Change is Awesome, I’ll Go First!