The only constant in life may be “change”, but are we, in fact, immune to it and how can we learn to embrace it? Broadcaster and leadership coach Michael Comyn joined Richard Curran on The Business to talk about why we can be so resistant to changing our ways, even if logically we see that it’s for our own good. Michael spoke about the work of Harvard researchers Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey and their Immunity to Change programme.
“What they looked at was the idea that people were well-intentioned, they had maybe noble goals, things they really wanted to do but at some point, something kicks in that prevents us getting to where we want to and they call that the Immunity to Change. If you think about the human body, we have an immune system and its purpose is to keep us safe. In exactly the same way, if you set a goal, our brain kicks in with a kind of an immune system that says, do you really want to do that?”
While our brains will readily accept some changes such as improvements in technology as we can see that the results are in our best interests, it finds other changes that may be even more beneficial very challenging to process. Perhaps we want a better work/life balance but can’t seem to unplug once we get home.
“What you really need to do next is, following this particular model, is to say, well what am I doing instead? So you know, you’re bringing things home, the laptop is open until midnight, you’re still working on a spreadsheet and the very first thing you check the next morning is your email. Well the immune systems will tell us the reason you’re doing that is a conflicting priority and in this particular case, and if we work it through really quickly, you discover… you’re afraid you’ll be judged for it and you might be seen by your boss as less diligent and not a team player.”
For many people, a common block to achieving their goals is a lack of time. Michael says there’s a simple way to immediately reframe this issue to help assess the situation and achieve your aims. He recommends replacing the word ‘time’ for ‘value’, for example, instead of saying ‘I’ve no time for exercise’, we would say ‘I’ve no value on exercise’.
“There’s your answer. Something you’re doing, you value more than the particular goal you’ve set for yourself.”