Bill Matthies

CEO, Coyote Insight, LLC

This conversation is closed.

Is the process you would use to change something in your personal life the same as what you would do in your professional life?

Do you even have a process for one or both?

We all encounter change, either initiated by ourselves or more often thrust upon us by outside forces. How (do) you deal with that?

Do you consider yourself to generally be reactive or proactive when it comes to change?

I asked these questions and more of 517 adults between the ages of 18 and 70 as part of four years of research I've completed to date regarding change. There is still more to learn and I look forward to your reaction.

Closing Statement from Bill Matthies

Back from my trip and this was the first opportunity I've had to check back into TED. In doing so I see there was an opportunity to provide closure on the discussion, specifically answering the question "Was the question effectively answered?" (TED's suggested closure.)

Those of you who followed this conversation know there wasn't one question but rather many including some diversions as we discussed many things I hadn't anticipated. I did get input I wanted but more than that, I benefited from the discussion "drift" and see that as being at least if not more important than what I originally expected.

Once again, thanks to all of you for your time and input.


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    Oct 16 2012: The only constant is change. ~Heraclitus

    Welcome to life. Change is normal whether it is internal or external so embrace it and have fun.

    When I am initiating change there is a process. For instance, changing a wound bandage. You gather up all your supplies, then you approach the problem and remove the old bandage. Assess what is beneath the change and problem solve to create the best environment for healing, and apply the new bandage and secure it so it doesn't fall off. Repeat as necessary.

    The process is the same whether or not the change is personal or professional. Only the supplies may be different.

    Almost forgot, usually it hurts. You have to ask yourself are you the kind of person that takes the bandage off slowly, agonizing over each lost hair follicle, or do you pull it off quickly and get it over with.

    Chances are if it doesn't hurt, you are simply applying a new bandage over the old and the wound can fester.
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    Oct 18 2012: This is actually a reply to Linda and Fritzie's comments/questions immediately below. I'm answering here because I also want to pass along some other news.

    Yes Linda the research I refer to is for an upcoming book but there's too much back story necessary to understand what the book's "big take-aways" are, if that's what you were asking about, so I won't go into that now. The book is done, going through some final proof reading, and I won't be making any significant content changes prior to publishing. The questions I've asked here on TED have more to do with my professional interest in "change" as opposed to being specifically related to the book.

    If the take-aways you were referring to had only to do with the research, that would be:

    1. People understand that change is inevitable.
    2. A significant minority fear change.
    3. Only a small proportion claim to have a systematic approach when dealing with change.
    4. There is no consensus as to whether or not the process to address professional change is the same or similar to what one should do in their personal life.
    5. There are big differences of opinion concerning how change initiatives should be managed among those who claim to be experienced in change management.

    Fritzie, this was an online survey based on a stratified sample of 517 adults, with the sample purchased from one of the major online market research list vendors (my previous company was in the market research business and I know those who provide reliable samples versus those who do not.)

    My other news is this. I will be traveling for the next week with very little time to follow this string. I hope it continues without me, but if not, I thank you all for your thoughtful questions and answers. It's been very helpful to me.

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      Oct 19 2012: Thank you, Bill, for sharing your take-aways from your research.

      These findings are consistent, I think, with my experience and understanding of this popular and timely subject.

      What I find interesting, though, is that many people, including some who consider themselves experts on change management:

      1. Do not realize that people typically already understand that change is inevitable. (Either that or they give a lot of attention to repeating this viewpoint to have something easy on which to agree with potential clients)

      2. Believe that the vast majority of people (rather than a significant minority) fear change.

      3. Believe there is a unique best or most authentic way of making changes.

      The most interesting question to me is whether conscious systematic approaches to dealing with change in a personal sphere (rather than in a business setting) are actually more successful than the approaches people take who would not claim a conscious systematic approach. A parallel concept, perhaps, among those who study creative processes is that highly creative people tend to follow one of two pathways- the "spontaneous" pathway and the "deliberate" pathway. Great works have arisen from each.

      Thank you for sharing your findings.
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      Oct 19 2012: I agree with Fritzie and thank you for sharing your take-aways. But I also wanted to point out that there is a subtle difference between leading and managing change. The skillset for leading change is a little different, including holding the vision. Did you have any results that discussed that difference?
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    Oct 18 2012: I've been posting questions regarding "change", all of which I included in the primary research I previously mentioned. What, if any, questions do any of you have on the same subject?

    My quantitative research was followed up by qualitative phone conversations with about a dozen of the 517 individuals who had completed the questionnaire. When I was done asking my questions I asked each of them were there any questions they wanted to ask? To a person they did, some at great length. How about you?
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      Oct 18 2012: Here's mine.

      What are the results of your research?

      OK maybe you have a book in the works or something, so how about

      What are your big take-aways from the research?
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        Oct 18 2012: Let me add to Linda's question by asking also how the sample was obtained.

        Your sharing your findings based on your sample and the questions you posed will also allow others here to compare their findings from their own research and experience in this area.

        Many people's work and life experiences have in one way or another involved helping others make changes. There is a lot of distributed expertise here, including both Linda and Colleen.
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    Oct 16 2012: All my research and thought the last four years regarding change got me wondering how much of the change we all experience is within our ability to affect if not control? Putting aside deciding which shirt/dress we'll wear today, focusing on the big stuff (furthering/ending/beginning relationships, improving our health, increasing our formal education, deciding where we live, what we do for a living, the risk we will/won't take in our jobs, etc.), what would you say?

    I know I can't change the weather but can affect what my clients think of me.

    I can do what I should to have a better relationship with my adult sons (it's close to perfect now) but not entirely decide what that relationship will be.

    I can think what I want but cannot always clearly articulate what that is.

    Here's my goal. If I could just get 10% better at managing change in my life, I am convinced the rewards for having done so would be phenomenal.

    What do you think?
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      Oct 16 2012: " the change we all experience is within our ability to affect if not control?"

      Control is an illusion. The only thing we can truly control is our response to change. And half the time we can't even do that.

      Everything else is a crap shoot. Even when we initiate change. We think we are doing the right thing or what needs to happen but there are always unintended consequences. We have all kinds of words for that. Collateral damage, adverse effects, sentinel events. and so on. We can plan and anticipate some of the outcomes but usually not all. So managing change not only includes what we know, it is the ability to deal with what we don't know. Also known as flexibility and acceptance. There's this serenity prayer that describes this someplace.

      So if you want to get better at managing change, become more flexible.and accept more. And stop trying to control people and events. (Man, it took me a looong time to learn this one.) You will be so much happier (hence the term serenity...)

      You can't change the weather and you can't always change what your clients think of you. Only how they behave around you and what they say to you. Kinda like dog training.
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        Oct 17 2012: "Grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference"
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      Oct 17 2012: While I understand and respect what Linda said, I agree with Dr. Phil's theory that life rewards action. Action doesn't always come with the results you were expecting. There are no guarantees, afterall. But, one thing is certain: if you take no action, you'll get no results.

      So, do you put forth some effort to get that 10% gain? I say sure. Why not?
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        Oct 17 2012: I used to be just like you. It is humbling to see that attitude again. Good luck dude.
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          Oct 17 2012: I may be misunderstanding Dave' comment , Linda's response, or both, and if so please correct me. It sounds to me Dave that you're saying do what you can to direct change to your benefit, accepting whatever good comes of the effort (a reference to my target of 10% improvement.). If so were you agreeing with that Linda?
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        Oct 17 2012: @ Bill
        Let me try and illustrate. Look at what Colleen posted as the prayer. The first time I saw it I laughed. How silly, of course I know what I can change and cannot change. All I have to do is work harder, do more, work smarter, leverage this, apply that. (Dr. Phil's advice applies here.) It wasn't working.

        You want to be 10% better at managing change because perhaps you have hit that barrier. You are doing as much as you possibly can and effecting all the change that is possible.

        Then some of life's road happened. I went back to the prayer and thought Oh, I get it now. It doesn't matter how much I do or how fast I run, some stuff is just not gonna change.

        Then some more of life's road happened. Actually a lot of life's road happened. What I realize now is that I can't change everything, indeed I can't change most things. The only thing I can consistently change is myself. Therefore, that is the seat of change management.

        I though long and hard about that word acceptance. I looked at when I was frustrated with change, it wasn't happening fast enough, it shouldn't happen at all, it is an injustice...

        I have been working on flexibility and acceptance. It really and truly does help serenity. It does have to be balanced with action and not all change is internal.

        What I am trying to say is that more action will not create the change you need. The change that has to happen to be 10% better.

        And that my friend is wisdom. Good luck on your road.
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          Oct 17 2012: Thanks Linda, a lot of good stuff to consider.
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      Oct 18 2012: Bill,
      If I may offer an example for your consideration....

      22 years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. A month later I sustained a near fatal head/brain injury, I was in the process of ending 24 years of marriage, my mother and father died. My life felt like it was in turmoil. Thankfully, I had embraced the concept I posted above...."the serenity prayer", and a LOT of other "tools" which helped me move through the challenges.

      I could not change the fact that I had cancer, nor could I change the fact that I had a severe brain injury. I could not change the fact that my parents died, nor did I want to change the process of divorce. I accepted all of it...not passively, but genuinely accepted the fact that I could not change any of these challenges. So, what was I going to do?

      Another belief I have in my tool box, is the courage to change the things I CAN change. Part of change, in my perception, is to truly BE in the moment to face the change. I don't spend time wishing things were different....regreting these self pity and I don't spend time or energy on blame. I learn, grow and evolve with each and every life situation. I honestly and deeply feel all the emotions, and move through the challenge with an open heart and mind, to discover whatever there is to discover.
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        Oct 18 2012: At times it seems there is no end to the sorrow we all face, but fortunately I find the good more than offsets the bad. Sometimes I have to really work at it to make myself believe that's true, and there are times I don't. But not for long.

        Colleen I'm guessing that 22 years later things are better for you. I certainly hope so.
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          Oct 18 2012: Bill,
          You may be missing the point of what I am trying to communicate? For me, there is no "good" or "bad"....there is life. I cannot say that anything I experienced was was the life adventure...happy, sad, frustrating, content, etc....etc.

          One thing I discovered, to create serenity in my life is that I needed to give up the idea that I could control everything in life. I also needed to give up the idea of labeling everything "good" and "bad" is simply life, and I experience a "flow" with life:>)

          Here is a quote I have read hundreds of times:
          "Out of its abysses, unpredictable life emerges, with a never-ending procession of miracles, crises, healing, and growth. When I realize this once again, I see the absurdity of my belief that I can understand, predict and control life. All I can really do is go along for the ride, with as much consciousness and love as I can muster in the moment".
          (Molly Young Brown)
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        Oct 18 2012: I believe I understand your point Colleen, semantic differences in some of our terms notwithstanding. And some (but not all) of what you say works for me as well as I am sure it does for many others.

        In the end I'm not looking for THE path, not for me or my business clients, only A path that will work for me and them given whatever issues we find ourselves facing at the moment. Often we find it, sometimes we don't and my interest in all this is to hopefully increase instances of the former while lessening the latter.
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          Oct 18 2012: That is funny Bill, and what people often say when they are unwilling or unable to's semantics!

          I have read all your comments, and you seem to want to be in be it.

          What I suggest has indeed worked well for many, it is only part of A path....not THE path, because each and every path has several elements. Good luck on your quest Bill:>)
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        Oct 19 2012: I probably should let this go Colleen. If I were able to better communicate with you I would have done so by now, but it's not because I don't want to. So one last time . . .

        First of all, for me none of this is about control. We were, I thought, simply exchanging views on a subject of interest to us both.

        I was being honest when I suggested semantics because I wasn't entirely sure that one or both of us wasn't misinterpreting some or all of what the other is saying. And that leaves you potentially half right. It does look like I am unable to understand what you've said but I am not unwilling to do so.

        My comments about "THE path" and "A path" had only to do with my experience and nothing whatsoever to do with you. I believe you think I was criticizing you in some way but that was not at all my intent.

        Colleen, from the sound of it, you took offense and for that I apologize. I didn't find anything "wrong" or "right, "good" or "bad" about your comments. I did and still do just accept it all as your views.

        Again, please accept my apology, I appreciate the time you've put into this and wish you the best as well.
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          Oct 19 2012: Bill,
          You started a discussion, which I was not going to get involved in until you mentioned your wife's challenge with cancer.

          The reason I was not going to get involved is because you spoke about all of your research and it appeared that you had all the answers you were seeking, even though this discussion is labeled a "question".

          When you mentioned your wife's challenge, you appeared to be asking for ideas, and you seemed more open to that possibility, so I responded.

          No, I do not think you were criticizing me. After asking a question, and apparently seeking ideas, however, you then said all I offered was simply semantics. As I've said, I read all your comments, and in my perception, Linda and I both offered something very different than you have been talking about. If you want to call it be it.

          You brought up "good" and "bad" refering to yourself when facing challenges...
          "At times it seems there is no end to the sorrow we all face, but fortunately I find the good more than offsets the bad". I addressed "good" and "bad" in response to your concern about yourself.

          I am not offended....I simply know when to exit a conversation:>)
          All the best to you:>)
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          Oct 19 2012: I do not want to butt in, but this exchange made me smile. I was thinking that perhaps what Colleen and I are saying was not picked up on your research because we would not be in a market research firms list. Surprisingly to me, with all the data you have, that you have not run into this thinking before.

          Perhaps you came here to find it?

          But if we are simply outliers to your data of course feel free to discard. Somehow, I think most of the participants in this venue would not be picked up by market research.
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    Oct 16 2012: With apologies to those of you following this string regarding "change", while related, I inadvertently took us off the subject a bit with my comment regarding my wife's breast cancer diagnosis. It is related and I meant it to be a real-world example of the sort of things that happen in all our lives, in some cases reducing or eliminating our logical self's ability to do its job. But the inherent emotion attached to that subject cannot be missed and could overwhelm any discussion including this one regarding change. I don't want that to happen. However I do want to respond to both Linda Taylor and Colleen Steen who were kind enough to comment on what I now see as my poor choice of words.

    I said, ". . . I see showing my fear as a weakness we cannot afford."

    In retrospect that sounds as though I think I can cooly put aside all emotion, attempting to force both of us to treat this as just another obstacle to be acknowledged and removed. It's not and that isn't my intent. Moreover even if I thought it was, and further thought it was up to me to "save" us both, my wife doesn't. In our own very different ways we are both struggling, attempting to achieve some balance between our emotional and logical parts, each differently, each and every hour as we continue to learn more about what lays ahead. And even worse, as we speculate about what we don't know, which, at this point, is mostly everything.

    Linda and Colleen, thank you for your well said advice. I didn't say it clearly but my intent is close to where you politely suggest it should be. Demonstrating the right balance of logic and emotion is always difficult and much, much more so in trying times such as we find ourselves now. But we're working on it and will ultimately get where we are supposed to be.
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      Oct 17 2012: " we're working on it and will ultimately get where we are supposed to be."

      Again, just from experience. You are exactly where you are supposed to be today, and tomorrow you will be exactly where you are supposed to be. In 10 months you will be exactly where you are supposed to be.

      I know you have a tendency to be proactive, but the change has already occurred. Sp now you are in the part where you have to deal with what you don't know. So I am sure you are learning as fast as you can, but don't forget to leverage flexibility and acceptance. There is a lot more "I don't know" in your immediate future.
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      Oct 17 2012: at the risk of taking us further off topic..............

      Bill, I'm very sorry to hear about your wife's diagnosis. I can only imagine how difficult that must be for both of you. I wish you both the very best.

      If it helps to hear a success story, my Dad was diagnosed with lymphoma about 5 years ago. Right from the start, the doctors were confident that chemo would clear everything up. Long story short, they were right. My Dad has been cancer free for a couple of years now, and is doing great.

      In fact, near the end of his treatments he said - and I will never forget this - that the chemo really didn't bother him that much. Apparently, "they" have very good anti-nausea medications now. Perhaps more importantly, Dad just seems to have one of those "constitutions". He's pretty tough. His oncologist said that when he looked at most patients, he could tell that they've had chemo. When he looked at my Dad, he couldn't tell. I tell you this because there may be some strength / genes on your side too.

      Believe it or not, I was also going to comment on your weakness remark. I hope this doesn't sound condescending. I certainly don't mean it that way. But, I was just going to remind you to take care of yourself through all of this. If you don't have strength, perspective, support, etc., within you, you can't give it away. Anyway.........

      Take good care. And again, I wish you both the very best.
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        Oct 17 2012: Thank you Dave and congratulations to your dad. My wife and I know something about that too. 33 years ago she was diagnosed with non Hodgkin's lymphoma, underwent surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. She's obviously not happy to be going through something similar now but acknowledges at least she is privleged to have survived to the point where she could.

        And Linda I agree with your "There is a lot more "I don't know" in your immediate future" comment as well. There is for all of us all the time. This time last year I was just a month short of robotic surgery for my prostate cancer, now declared cured. The "gate" of unknowns "swings" both good and bad non stop.
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    Oct 14 2012: Admittedly, I have not read all 29 comments, so I apologize if I'm repeating something.

    As I type this, I'm not sure if I can clearly define processes that I use to affect change in my personal & professional lives. However, in my experience, I would say that a) my personal & professional lives are quite different, b) I like to be as successful as I can be in both, and c) I don't believe I can be equally successful in "both lives" by doing the same things. In other words, an approach that leads to success in my professional life may not lead to success in my personal life - and vice versa.

    In our professional lives, we may have to overlook our emotions in favour of colder, purely logical requirements of a job. Conversely, in our personal lives, dealing with our emotional health is also logical. In our personal lives, emotion and logic may be linked. But, in our professional lives, perhaps they are not. Unfortunately, some employers don't care about your emotional health - they just want the job done. In my personal life, taking care of my emotional health IS (part of) my job.

    As you likely know - and as stated in a TED talk about psychopathy - capitalism in its most extreme form, mirrors psychopathy. Clearly, this idea applies to some corporations. Perhaps change within such an environment pertains more to survival than health. In my personal life, I can - and should - pay attention to my passions, interests, and things that feed my spirit. In my professional life, usually I just have to find a way to get on with it. Some employers don't care about their employee's passions. They learn what they're good at (regardless of enjoyment), and use them exclusively for those things.

    Reactive or Proactive? I would say that in my personal life, I am much more proactive than I am in my professional life. I have so much more autonomy in my personal life. In my professional life, so much is imposed by others. I have far fewer choices at work.

    Anyway, I hope that was useful
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      Oct 15 2012: This is new Dave and appreciated in that you've touched on some points that relate to other things I am interested in but have not asked.

      You said "In our personal lives, emotion and logic may be linked. But, in our professional lives, perhaps they are not."

      I agree with you assuming you mean that in many companies emotion and logic are not supposed to be linked in our professional lives. Sort of a "Leave your personal problems in the parking lot" kind of philosophy.

      My 4 years of research has me concluding that, like it or not, they are linked and attempting to ignore that fact is why many companies fail in their change initiatives.
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        Oct 16 2012: You are more than welcome, Bill. I enjoy thinking about questions like this. I make no guarantees about my responses, though :)

        Yes, your assumption about "leaving your personal problems in the parking lot" was basically correct. Further to that, though, I was also referring to a kind of “mental conditioning”. The kind of thing that, I assume, soldiers go through. Conditioning that (hopefully) allows you to accept any circumstances or conditions. Regardless of adversity, frustration, disappointment, anger, etc., one suppresses any initial emotional reactions, and is guided only by one's training, calmness and professionalism. You are expected to abandon notions like “I want”, “I need”, “I like”, “I love”, in favour of what the company – or “the team” - needs from you.

        I have never been in the military myself, but my boss was for some time. I have known him for many years, so I've become familiar with some of the techniques used to “condition” people.

        For what it's worth, I also agree that – like it or not – emotion and logic are linked. Obviously, people are emotional creatures. One may be successful in suppressing emotions for a time, but they will eventually surface – and not always in expected, or constructive ways.

        In my experience, sometimes emotional issues are ignored – and change initiatives fail – because we really don't know each other as well as we think we do. Difficult situations at work can create suspicion, mistrust, or animosity, and choke off communication when it is needed most.
        I'm reminded of the saying that ends with “....until you've walked a mile in their shoes.”
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          Oct 16 2012: The "mental conditioning" you mention and your likening it to the military is correct, as much for personal as professional. For example my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer this past Friday and as you might expect we are now entering the "jaws" of the medical community for the foreseeable future.

          We are both scared but I see showing my fear as a weakness we cannot afford. She needs to endure surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation and I need to be strong to help her summon the strength to do all that. I am, as you said, doing all I can to ignore my emotional self so that my logical self can provide strength for both of us.

          Change, not pretty but change nevertheless.
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          Oct 16 2012: @ Bill
          Just a word from experience. She may take your strength and lack of emotion as not caring. We all want a knight on a white horse, but we want one that loves us. Don't stay on the horse all the time.
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          Oct 16 2012: Dave and Bill,
          I agree that there may be times when one needs to be strong to offer strength and courage to someone else. If we leave our emotions "in the parking lot" too many times, however, and suppress all the time, it may become detrimental to our mental health.

          There certainly are situations, as in the military, when emotions are suppressed, and "conditioning" over-rides any show of emotions. Thankfully, the military is starting to recognize the adverse affects this practice has on people for the rest of their lives, and they have started to offer counceling services for those who have lived with the idea and training of suppressing emotions. I have a friend who was in the special forces during the Vietnam war, and later served as an instructor for special forces. He has lived his whole life (seemingly "normal") with the shadows...until recently, when he had a total breakdown and is now, unfortunately, in a mental institution.

          I agree that there may be times when one needs to be strong to offer strength and courage to someone else. At some point in time, we also need to find the balance in ourselves to genuinely "feel" and express those emotions. If we do not recognize all emotions, it is as Linda insightfully says in another comment....".... you are simply applying a new bandage over the old and the wound can fester"
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        Oct 16 2012: I wholeheartedly agree with your statement Bill...
        "My 4 years of research has me concluding that, like it or not, they are linked and attempting to ignore that fact is why many companies fail in their change initiatives".

        Every part of us is interconnected, and acknowledging that fact is more beneficial to any situation. So why would you ignore your emotional self with the challenge you face with your wife? When we ignore part of our authentic "self", the messages we send to others may be distorted, because the messages we send to ourselves are distorted, and it may be interpreted in many different ways. To ignore emotions in ourselves, we are putting up walls, and she may very well interpret that in a different way. Sharing what you genuinely feel at any given time brings you together, while trying to ignore certain emotions that impact a person you love generally seperates.

        So sorry about your wife's diagnosis. There is way too much cancer in our world, and I wish you all the best. The good thing, is that they are starting to manage breast cancer a little better these days....believe in that.
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    Oct 13 2012: Bill, I have had, and retired from, three jobs in my life 1) US Military; 2) General Dynamics (Aero Engineer); and 3) State civil servant (Arizona). Change has many forms such as mandated, designed, voluntary, or out of necessity. The strategy of implementing these changes would differ from voluntary to mandated and all between. In industry we are funded for change and have various professionals to guide us through the process. The major consideration being the impact on the bottom line profit margin. Retooling, hiring, layoffs, production dates, and delivery time lines are all important factors that in other cases may not appear at all. In the military it is all about mission support. Your agency will conduct change to satisfy the goals of the mission. These changes may be planned or out of necessity in a fluid situation. You are paid to complete the mission and to adjust, adapt, and overcome. At the state level you have a designated area of responsibility and that requires adhering to the state laws, policies, and directives. Your concern is budget. Given that state change is seldom supported with either equipment, manpower, or increase in budget. Your responsibility is to the taxpayers and elected officials. In all of those above situations the change is almost always reactive. However in my personal life it is almost always proactive. If I want it I must save to afford it and make adjustment to support it. Since life often deals us with the unexpected we must plan for that also in the form of savings, insurance, and contingency planning.

    Summary: In each case we plan, implement, evaluate, adjust, and (hopefully) succeed. In that we use those same tools. However, all of the sub sets are different from politics to pleasure.

    No man is an island and no decision is made without some form of input, analysis, and a stated goal.

    If your married that is a whole new set of rules involving a limited (you) partner .. LOL

    All the best. Bob
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    Oct 13 2012: .they are related and almoat the same

    in my life i want to be a researcher and i always read a lot and see much and i want to be a birdge designer so read some books about it .and most of the time i think how can i achieve my goal

    while i just put my personal life to the nature .make it as simple as possible and devote modt my time on my interest .
    and another point .i think there is relate between your characters in life and your goal .think how can we let a person who is mind-opening do a traditional teaching .and today you do is for your tomorrow .
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      Oct 13 2012: So Mr. Chen I believe you are saying you plan for your professional life but let you personal life just happen, is that correct? If so is that working out for you as you would like? And how are you doing with your career goals?
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        Oct 16 2012: good question,i think iam a person with low lust. i just want to live a life of simple ,and i also love that style .

        how are your doing with your career goals ?

        i am a student now ,i read a lot in school .and i chat to learn something on ted .all these are for my career goals .i learn more ,and do more ,

        when i graduated i hope to use my knowledge to find a good gob,my career !
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          Oct 16 2012: You are undergoing profound change Mr. Chen, and while everyone does all the time, the change for young people such as yourself is foundational. What you choose to do and not do today will affect the balance of your life.

          Choose wisely.
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    Oct 12 2012: First of all, thank you for your replies. I know there is much here you can look at and I appreciate the time you've taken with my questions. And if you don't mind, I have a few more.

    Is any "significant" change, personal or professional, accomplished alone? Obviously the definition of "significant" has a lot to do with your answers but let's just say it's not about which shirt you'll wear that morning or what you have for lunch. Nor does it need to be the clearly monumental things such as decisions to have (or not have) children, changes in marital status, closing down production lines, entering new product categories, etc. There is a lot of room between those examples, all of which is the space I find is most of our lives.

    How well trained do you feel business managers are when it comes to dealing with change? And how about non management employees who are often the ones that must implement the suggested changes? Do they all approach change issues from the same direction and if not, does this present a problem?
    • Oct 12 2012: "Is any "significant" change, personal or professional, accomplished alone?"
      Not really, any change requires various factors including one's effort. Collaboration with clever strategies and flexibility are part of the factors.

      “How well trained do you feel business managers are when it comes to dealing with change?”
      When they're not just equipped with some knowledge, but also acquainted with their clients' or partners' way of approaching their products or services, I think.

      Good question :)
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        Oct 12 2012: I would go further and say that I think a major mistake individuals often make when considering personal change initiatives is attempting them alone. Most everyone understands and accepts that change in business will be done by many as opposed to one, but not in our personal lives. Many often attempt life-changing things with little or no input from others, or at best, from the wrong people.

        Thanks Elizabeth.
        • Oct 13 2012: So true... they think they take personal change seriously, but they aren't prepared with proper strategies.
          Btw, Bill, I’m pretty interested in your research, so, let me ask you a question—just out of curiosity :-)
          According to your research, the achievements gaps between personal changes and professional changes that people have are big? Do majority of people have trouble with balancing their goals between their personal lives and professional lives?
          Want to know how people deal with their attempts...
          One thing I could guess here is that people aren't always consistent in terms of changes.
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        Oct 13 2012: Elizabeth I wouldn't say the gaps between professional and personal achievement are big. It's more a case where if someone does not know how to manage change in one of their lives (personal or professional) they won't likely do a good job of it in the other. And I am convinced people do not understand change procedure.

        And as far as having trouble balancing their professional and personal life goals is concerned (we often refer to that as "work/life balance", a term I don't care for because it seems to imply that work is not a part of life), yes, that is an issue for many.

        I have an upcoming book addressing change and the main premise is that one needs to become equally adept at managing change in both their personal and professional lives assuming they wish to maximize goal achievement. I also suggest that it is in the best interest of business to help their employees learn how to do this. If they don't they will ask employees who do not know how to manage change, attempt to manage change on behalf of the company. It's just not working.
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      Oct 13 2012: People don't live and work in a vacuum. In that sense, nothing is ever accomplished alone.

      I think people vary greatly in how much support they seek in their projects. Some people are fiercely independent and very successful in steering their own ships. Others don't make a move without consulting lots and lots of people.

      More typical, probably, is the case in which people use one or a couple of people they trust as sounding boards. It could be a mentor or a peer/coworker or little group all of whom give each other feedback.

      Of course there are also zillions of people- an ever expanding cohort of coaches and aspiring coaches- who market their services or blogs or ebooks or courses to advise people at a price on all sorts of things like this.
      • Oct 13 2012: Good point, Fritzie :)
        So, in a nut shell, it all depends on people's way of dealing with their efforts with cooperative human resources(so to speak).
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        Oct 13 2012: "Some people are fiercely independent and very successful in steering their own ships. Others don't make a move without consulting lots and lots of people."

        I've observed that these two groups represent the ends of a bell shaped curve of how people approach change with the majority falling under the bell "hump". And that curve is very different when talking about professional versus personal. Many who would never think about attempting change at work without a group helping them, will then go home at night and attempt to deal with major personal problems with no help at all.
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    Oct 12 2012: The principles that helps to effect change are the same; either one desires change in personal life or in professional life.
    The processes may differ. For example there are tested and realiable principles that would bring about excellence whether applied to the running of a basketball team or the running of a business or the administration of a school; the principles brings about peak performance in individuals.
    Because of the peculiarity of each case requiring change, the details of applying the principles would differ.
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      Oct 12 2012: You know it really helps me to review profiles when reading these comments. In your case Feyisayo I see you live in South Africa, an area that has undergone profound change in the last 30 or so years.

      As you no doubt know we in the US are about to vote for president and the implications of who we choose will have much to do with not only the direction of the US but much of the world as well. To grossly over simplify our choices have to do with how socialist we want to be.

      I would bet that many voting don't understand that is the situation. Instead our media and the political ads being run, distill everything down to how bad the other guy is. So we will elect someone and in doing so will steer the country slightly more "left" than it already is, or more back to the "right" of center.

      In either case, change from what currently exists and I wonder what if any overlying change process is at play here.
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    Oct 12 2012: I agree with Rick that processes related to change are naturally related to whether our choices affect many others or mainly ourselves and whether change in an area involves collaboration with others. That seems to me the more important distinction than whether the change is part of our professional or personal lives (which are not necessarily as distinct as the terms suggest). I think another dimension that affects how change affects people is whether the change goes to the core of who they are and of what they believe and whether it comes as a surprise or makes a slow approach.
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      Oct 13 2012: I have a slightly different take on that Fritzie. I believe that all change efforts benefit from some degree of collaboration, at least for those things where the "win/loss" stakes are high. However many individuals and groups either do not seek others to collaborate with, or do so only because they are forced to.

      It is fairly common in business to find a team charged with devising a company plan to be followed to achieve goals identified as part of a change initiative. But when those same individuals go home at night to deal with what are for them major issues (family relation problems, substance abuse, financial difficulty) very little planning is done with even less attempts to seek outside help (collaboration) to solve the problems.

      How does this turn out?

      Well we have an approximate 50% divorce rate in the US. About 14% of students fail to graduate from high school. And in the last few years, Americans have found themselves attempting to navigate the worst economy since the Great Depression, many unsuccessfully.

      And then there is business. McKinsey Consulting did a study in 2002 which found that only 40% of companies achieve all their goals with 25% achieving none. Verifying this 6 years later, IBM did a much larger study (N=1,500) and came up with almost identical results.

      I am not at all saying this is solely due to a lack of collaboration; there is much, much more to it than that. I'm only saying that meaningful collaboration, both for professional and personal issues, would help quite a bit assuming all other important change criteria are in place as well.
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        Oct 13 2012: I was refering to what I understood Rick as saying in response to whether the process is different in a professional setting from personal. I understood him to say that the pivotal factor is how many people need to come together and how distributed the stakes are.

        Sometimes a team is charged with making or responding to changes. There may then be specific processes associated with that, including official and unofficial lines of communication. There may be a protocol of dividing work in a manner agreed upon by the group. There may be initial brainstorming together or separately and then coming together. The process may reflect the fact that twelve people must agree on a strategy.

        The process may be quite different when a couple is deciding on where to move the sofa (two people) or when parent and son are deciding on the agenda for the weekend (two people).

        I agree with you that some people get so tired of always needing to coordinate with a big committee or work group in the office that when they get home, they embrace the informality of home life and independent decisionmaking.

        Separately, I think for every student that doesn't graduate high school, there have been genuine energetic attempts at a collaboration between school personnel and family. Or that is my experience in secondary schools, which almost always have frequently meeting intervention teams of teachers and counselors which bring children, parents, and health professionals in as well. The drop out rate cannot fairly be attributed to people's ignoring the virtues of collaboration or personal coaching, I think.
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          Oct 15 2012: I don't believe the dropout rate is solely attributable to a lack of collaboration or any other single thing either. It's much too complex and diverse an issue to reduce it to only that. But I do think it is part of the overall problem.

          As to people being so tired of collaboration at work, perhaps, but I also don't see great numbers who even think about seeking help outside their immediate circle of support. That was part of the questions included in my "change" survey of 517 adults and the answers fits with my anecdotal observations as well. Like it or not we instinctively know we must collaborate at work but don't at home.
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        Oct 15 2012: I am sure you are right that most people do not hire people to help them with personal problems, relying by preference on their support systems of people who have faced similar problems and have good, practical heads on their shoulders.

        The exceptions that occur to me are marriage or family counseling in some cases, psychotherapy,legal assistance and for an affluent set, sometimes personal trainers and financial planners.

        Of course, people people increasingly buy self-help books as well, which they may work through independently or with a group of people they trust who are working on the same things.
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    Oct 12 2012: In my experience, I have found real change to be slow and difficult. We are molded by our parents and become something. That 'something', that person, adapts to the world around them. Then, that person has to take care of themselves and build a life in whatever world they find themselves in. When it comes to 'change', whether pro or re active, one must dispose of old paradigms and create new ones, must recreate a part of themselves, or become the definition of insanity.
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      Oct 13 2012: Timothy Clark summarized the challenges of change management leadership quite well in his book "EPIC Change":

      “Change can be mystifying. We can’t deny its complexity. It’s not simple, linear, tidy, or mechanistic, and there is virtually nothing elegant about leading it.”
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        Oct 15 2012: Regarding 'change management leadership', I have found 'power' to be the predominate attribute for success. 'Power' can be achieved by many forms (trust, respect, position, etc), but without it successful decision-making for change is usually impotent. Thanks for responding.
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    Oct 12 2012: Great question, Bill. I don't think there is one simple answer to it, so my answer is...Yes, No, and Maybe.

    To me, it depends on the circumstances. I'm retired now, so I can change something in my personal life without it affecting someone else in most cases. The process I would use to effect that change would be much different than if I was trying to change my own life but had to interact with another individual or group where my process might affect them too, such as a work or professional setting.

    There is also the issue of who is in charge and who is deciding the process? And for what purpose? Someone in a management position may have the authority to initiate the process without having to get any subordinates to agree with it (business and military organizations, for example). On the other hand, if it was an "informal group" where there is no acknowledged leader with authority, I would have to approach the method of "making change" in a much different manner to ensure I had the support from the rest of the group without being ostracized.

    Recognizing how change occurs, and it's pitfalls, is probably the most important quality of someone who is thinking about making change, and someone who is experiencing change implemented by others. There is no one all-inclusive way to implement change, or to be on the receiving end of change, if you want the change to be effective. In that regard, I would say I am both proactive AND reactive to change, depending on the circumstances.
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      Oct 12 2012: Rick, I see you are retired military. When it comes to "change" have you had any experience with non military professional organizations, and if so, have you noticed any differences in the way each addresses change? Even if you haven't I am curious as to how you feel the military does when confronted with change they wish to make or that forced upon them.
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        Oct 13 2012: Well, I could talk about your questions for hours, in many different ways. They are very broad in scope. I'll avoid some of that scope in my reply here, as Robert Winner addressed them already in a post he made about 1 hour ago (as I type this). What I will say in regard to it though is that Robert made a very good point in that anyone who stays in the military long enough to retire from it (20+ years experience) had to adapt to change not only in a purely military concept, but in other disciplines also. There are numerous "civilians" living "civilian lives" while still supporting "military" change. DoD contractors, DoD civilian employees, etc. The "rules" they have to follow can be quite different in some cases though, depending on whether they are actually military or civilian. And a 25+ year military member, I did have to consider how change occurs with non-military professional organizations, like deaing with union contracts for civilian employees who's professions supported the military.

        Because your topic question deals with an INDIVIDUAL'S choice in how they would approach proactive or reactive change in their OWN life, I will address it that way in this reply.

        It will take more than the 2000 character limit for a reply here, so bear with me as I make a "series" of replies to do it.

        (continued in next post)
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        Oct 13 2012: (continued post)

        You asked, "I am curious as to how you feel the military does when confronted with change they wish to make or that forced upon them."

        When you say "forced upon them", I will answer from the individual military member's perspective of having "change" forced upon them. It is an important concept, because every day I see too many non-military "civilians" making "poor judgement decisions" about change affecting their lives too...for the same reason. The reason is a mis-conception/perception about the the "process" of the change.

        When somebody joins the military in the U.S., they immediately come under an new, separate, and ADDITIONAL legal system...The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). This new legal system immediately seems outrageously unfair to new recruits, as it makes actions they could perform in the civilian sector without facing punishment a "crime" under the UCMJ. For instance, as a civilian working at McDonald's you could tell your "boss" where to shove it and the worst that could happen to you is you get fired. Do that in the military and you can be Courts Martialed, sent to prison, and be a convicted felon for the rest of your life. Very different consequences for the "change" to an individual from being a civilian to being a military member.

        To me, whether the individual can be proactive or reactive to that type of change is highly dependant on whether they UNDERSTAND the foundational reason for the change. It is also important they can comprehend ALL the elements of anything that SUPPORTS that change. If they don't, they will have very mis-guided beliefs about the "change", and make poor life decisions concerning it.

        (continued next post)
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        Oct 13 2012: (continued post)

        Here's a simple example of what I had to teach new recruits so they would think they were NOT getting "screwed" by the UCMJ violating their "civilian" Constitutional rights.

        There is a "law" in the UCMJ that makes writing an insufficient fund check a crime. Do it, and you could conceivably be convicted of the crime, sent to prison, and be a felon for the rest of your life. Sounds really "bad", eh? Yes...until you understand that all "crimes", both under civilian law and the UCMJ have "elements" associated with them that must be proven to have occured before someone can be convicted of the crime. In the case of the UCMJ "crime", there are THREE elements that MUST be proven:

        1. The check was written with the KNOWLEDGE there was insufficient funds to cover it.

        2. The check was written with the INTENT to deceive and never be negotiable.

        3. The check was written with NO INTENTION to ever supply funds to cover it.

        Whole different story now. Nobody would ever be prosecuted for accidentally writing a "hot check" under the UCMJ. Even a SERIES of "hot checks", unless the prosecution could prove ALL THREE of the above elements. More likely, the repeated issuance of "hot checks" by a person would indicate they have problems handling their own personal finances, and efforts would be made to help them become better personal financial managers of their own money. Once new recruits eliminated the "ignorance" associated with what they BELIEVED the UCMJ was saying about "hot check writing", they became much less prone to think things like, "This UCMJ is screwing me by taking away my rights under the Constitution!". They can now have a much more realistic view of the system, and how they can to be proactive and/or reactive to the change they are experiencing under the additional legal system imposed on them.

        (continued next post)
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        Oct 13 2012: The above example applies to the UCMJ. But every day I see the same mistakes being made by "civilians" or the "general public" about a plethora of issues they encounter (politics, economics, you name it) because they are ignorant (which simply means they don't understand or have mis-conceptions/perceptions) about things that effect their every day lives. No disrespect to anyone, but when complaints, accusations, and judgements are made based on false conceptions/perceptions someone has, the suggested solutions or resolutions to the perceived "problem" aren't going to be effective either.

        So, to answer your general question posed in your reply to me, I think the quality of any "process" someone chooses to make concerning "change" in their individual life is directly related to their ability to correctly perceive and comprehend the validity of the "problem" they are facing, which may be the "change" they are experiencing.

        Obviously you have read my profile based on your question to me. That is why in my profile I state I feel so strongly about reducing or trying to eliminate "ignorance" is somebody's life. Any proactive or reactive attempt to make "quality life decisions" concerning "change" will only be as effective as the understanding someone initially has about the "problem" they are facing.

        In a nutshell, it's the old saying computer software designers use about writing software to get good results:

        "Garbage In = Garbage Out"

        (end of post series)
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          Oct 13 2012: "Any proactive or reactive attempt to make "quality life decisions" concerning "change" will only be as effective as the understanding someone initially has about the "problem" they are facing."

          I couldn't agree more. You can't fix what you don't understand.