Life Engineering, a motivational, scientific self-help website to help you overcome your past and achieve success in life

Vince Lambardi teaches that loyalty is highest form of love, embues change efforts with uncompromising purpose

There are lots of reasons why you might seek change.  Often those reasons are centered around yourself.  Your personal betterment.

These are noble causes.  You are infinitely capable, after all, and you deserve the very best, those rewards earned through the persistent pursuit of positive change.

But there is yet a higher cause.  Something even nobler.


Vince Lombardi was the famous coach of the Green Bay Packers, who led them to capture their first-ever Super Bowl.  In the wake of his incredible success and obvious leadership, Lombardi was highly sought after for corporate events.

He translated the principles of leadership and motivation he used on the football field into 7 principles for work and life.  Chief among these 7 principles was one that was surprising for the rough and tough football coach… love.  Love, he says, is more powerful than hate.

“The love I’m speaking of is loyalty, which is the greatest of loves.  Teamwork, the love that one man has for another and that he respects the dignity of another…I am not speaking of detraction. You show me a man who belittles another and I will show you a man who is not a leader…Heart power is the strength of your company.  Heart power is the strength of the Green Bay Packers. Heart power is the strength of America and hate power is the weakness of the world.”

Lombardi taught that when your efforts are fueled by love, you work harder, persevere longer, invest more, take greater care, and are less apt to give up.

Some years ago the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, renowned for providing some of the greatest care in the world for children battling cancer, was building a new facility on campus.

Something remarkable happened, a love-born relationship between the ironworkers and the children.  As the Boston globe reported:

“It has become a beloved ritual at Dana-Farber.  Every day, children who come to the clinic write their names on sheets of paper and tape them to the windows of the walkway for ironworkers to see. And, every day, the ironworkers paint the names onto I-beams and hoist them into place as they add floors to the new 14-story Yawkey Center for Cancer Care.

“The building’s steel skeleton is now a brightly colored, seven-story monument to scores of children receiving treatment at the clinic-Lia, Alex, and Sam; Taylor, Izzy, and Danny. For the young cancer patients, who press their noses to the glass to watch new names added every day, the steel and spray-paint tribute has given them a few moments of joy and a towering symbol of hope. ‘It’s fabulous,’ said [18-month-old] Kristen [Hoenshell]’s mother, Elizabeth, as she held her daughter and marveled at the rainbow of names. It’s just a simple little act that means so much.’”

The children and their parents were certainly touched, but think of the ironworkers, each morning in the bitter cold and biting wind.  Their project had become more than just another building.  Their work now had meaning.  They had purpose.

This kind of purpose, when your efforts are somehow tied to something more than yourself, creates powerful, self-sustaining drive that you simply don’t otherwise get.

This year I helped coach my 14 year old son’s football team.  The prior season was a tough one, with zero wins.  Coming into the new season with that record created a powerful barrier to success – self doubt.  What the boys needed was something to believe in.  Something to rally around.

That something showed up on the first day of practice.  His name was Austin.  Austin was autistic.  But he had a huge heart and an infectious sense of humor (which was often manifested by his sneaking up on a coach and inflicting physical pain, which delighted the other boys.)

His parents didn’t have much by way of expectations, but were excited he wanted to play.  Austin didn’t have many friends.  Until now.

The team embraced him.  At first he would only practice a few plays at a time before losing interest, when he would go sit on the side and watch (or sneak up on coaches).  Over time he would stay in nearly the whole practice, with help and guidance and patience of his teammates, showing him where to stand and what to do.

We decided we wanted Austin to have a lot of play time.  He started, every game, as defensive nose guard, and cycled in and out every couple of plays.  His parents were ecstatic at the experience.


Austin was the rallying point, giving the team purpose born of love and loyalty

Austin lines up on defense… ready to take on the world.


We ended the season with 7 wins and 1 loss, and went to the championship game, where again, Austin started.

This was the same team that a year prior had not won a game.

While there were several things we worked on to overcome mental barriers, and be better prepared, in my mind nothing played a larger role, at least in gaining our initial inertia, than the fact that we had something to rally around.  We had a cause greater than ourselves.  We were motivated by love, by loyalty.

Love imbues your change efforts with unparalleled, uncompromising purpose.

Whatever your change efforts are, find a way to let them be led, or inspired by a cause greater than yourself, and you’ll find your rate of success increasing dramatically.

Let yourself be led by love.



Austin, the team's rallying point, imbued our efforts with purpose born of love and loyalty.

Austin comes out after a play, ecstatic at playing the game.




Vince Lombardi Biography - when pride still mattered(You can read all of Lambardi’s principles in his biography by Pulitzer Prize winning author David Maraniss: “When Pride Still Mattered“.)

Life Engineering, a motivational, scientific self-help website to help you overcome your past and achieve success in life

Imagine you’ve been given a garden.

It’s you’re garden, and your responsible for its care.  You decide what grows in it.  You decide what it looks like.  And you get to partake of the fruit that comes from it.

Like any garden, it’s gonna be prone to sprout weeds.  Undesirable seeds will occasionally be blown in, and you won’t know it until they sprout.  But you get to decide how long those weeds stay.  How tall they get.

But be careful, because left untended, weeds have a way of taking over.

In fact, it’s often the case that after prolonged neglect, we look at our garden and see nothing but weeds.

In these times, it’s easy to curse the garden we’ve been given.

It’s also easy to look at the weeds in our garden, and think that it’s too late, or that this is how it was meant to be, and that there’s nothing we can do about it, at least not now.

When you look at your garden and see only weeds, it’s hard to forget that it’s still a garden.  The weeds do not define it.  They are merely the visible evidence of what you’ve allowed to grow there.

If you don’t like it, change it.  It’s your garden.

Now reread this, and substitute “garden” for “LIFE”. What resonates with you?


Life is like a garden, it's yours to change

(image from **Mary**)

There’s a well-known, but somewhat surprising phenomenon that occurs when people face disaster in their lives… they find it easier to make substantial, life changes.  

There’s a biological reason for this. See, actions (habits, traditions, behaviors, etc.), at their most fundamental level are simply physical pathways formed between neurons in your brain.

In order to perform an action, your neurons have to change – sometimes they change their structure, sometimes reach out and make new connections, sometimes they change the signals made with existing connections, etc. But once a pathway is created that produces the desired reactions, that pathway is a physical manifestation, or representation of that action.

The more you repeat that action, the stronger those pathways become (increased connection ratios, redundant connections, better chemical flow, etc.).

To change a behavior, means that when the electrical flow (or the sequence of events that lead up to that action) reaches a certain point, you’ve got to demand an intervention in this pre-established neural pathway. You have to force your brain to reach out and create new connections, to change itself structurally. This requires enormous discipline, and dedication, because your brain is highly adept at following the path of least resistance. It’s an efficient mechanism.

But it’s also adept at survival. And so when disaster strikes, it forces itself to create new connections so that it can adapt and survive. Otherwise, when change is not associated with an imminent need, it relies solely on our own discipline and desire, which is usually not compelling or persistent enough.


This post describes how you can increase the success of your change initiatives by understanding the biological foundation of change.

Change can be brutal.  In fact, it can seem impossible.

Why is change so hard?  Because to change a behavior, you actually have to change your biology on a cellular, and sometimes even on a molecular level.

Understanding how that works can help you more successfully manage change in your own life.

The easiest metaphor to understand this is a game called FLOverload, for the iPhone.  (There’s been several renditions of this game over time, this is just one of the more recent ones).

Here, you start out with a screen where you’ve got several “pipes” of different shapes scattered throughout the screen.  Each time you touch one of those pipes, it rotates.

The idea is that you have to rotate some of the available pipes to create a channel for the water to flow through, before the water gets to an open-ended pipe, and you lose.

Here’s a video of how the game works.

This is very much like your brain.

Each of these pipe segments are like the neurons in your brain, but on a ridiculously larger scale.

You have roughly 100 billion of these pipe segments, or neurons, in your brain.

When the need arises for you to complete an action, the “water” starts to flow.

Except, in your brain, it’s not water, it’s electricity, which “flows” from neuron to neuron looking for a conduit, or a path that produces the right action.

When it can’t find one, it has to physically create one (which is why learning new behavior is hard too, and often you fail several times before you get it right).

When no pathway is found to produce a specific action, you instantly begin changing the actual cellular structure of your brain.  Some neurons go looking for other neurons (their dendrites reaching out to form new connections).

Sometimes they try sending different signals to connections they’ve already established (by using different neurotransmitters, or molecules that transfer a signal from neuron to neuron).

And they’ll just keep doing this, changing their very shape and structure, releasing and reabsorbing chemicals, and shooting off electric sparks.  All this is happening in an instant, and simultaneously over billions of neurons.  Learning is a rather substantial endeavor, on a cellular level.

No wonder it makes us tired (did you know your brain, while accounting for only about 2 percent of your body weight, accounts for about 20% of your total energy usage?).

This is not inconsequential work.  We really should learn to be more patient with ourselves.

In any event, somehow, miraculously, through unfathomable instances of trial and error, we stumble on a pathway that produces the desired results (or sometimes we simply won’t, in which case we never “learn” the new behavior).

Now here’s where it gets interesting (in case that part wasn’t).

That action is now physically mapped.  It’s a structural, chemical conduit that represents that particular action, just like a series of pipes through which water can flow.  That action has become part of our very biology.

Coincidentally, the more you repeat that action, the more pronounced those connections become.  The neurons along that path will even form additional, redundant connections to make sure flow along that path is smooth.

In short, the more you repeat an action, the more physical connections there are that represent that action.  This is known as memory.  It’s why “practice”, and “repetition” are so important to learning.

Unfortunately, it’s also why change is so hard.

See, your brain, being the marvelous, efficient thing that it is, knows when water (or electricity, in this case) starts flowing down that particular path, and desperately wants to let it follow the path of least resistance.

After all, it’s gone through all that trouble physically building that conduit.

But if you want to change (a behavior, a belief, a memory, anything), suddenly you’re telling your brain “Hey, wait just a doggone minute.  I know you’ve already spent so much effort creating this beautiful, efficient path, but I don’t want that anymore, I want to create a new path”.

Needless to say, if your brain could feel, it would probably feel a bit offended.

Still, it sets to work finding, and creating a new path.  Again it starts looking for new connections, reaching out, trying different signals, and keeps at it as long as you’re willing to keep providing it attention and energy.

So now let’s get to the important stuff, at least the stuff important to you on a conscious level, as an individual wanting to change their life.

Here are some crucial principles of change management, learned from looking at change at a cellular and molecular level.

1.  You must be deliberate, and engaged

Remember, that your brain will want to follow the path of least resistance (the strongest, most robust set of connections).  That means when the electrical flow hits the critical point where you want to divert it, you have to be consciously, actively, deliberately, and passionately engaged in order to force it to take a new path.  It’s an extremely deliberate process.  At least at first.

It’s a lot like a railroad conductor who has to go out and physically pull a lever on the tracks so that when the train gets there, it follows the desired path.

Until your new action gets habitualized and becomes subconscious (the result of doing the rest of these steps), you have to walk out and flip that switch whenever you see the train coming.

If you’re disengaged at all, at that critical moment of divergence, you’ll simply do what you’ve always done, or think what you’ve always thought, and no change will occur.  (Incidentally, this is why changing environments is so crucial to creativity – you’re changing the path, before it gets to the “results” end, more here).

2.  Identify the point of divergence

Knowing how deliberately involved you have to be, especially initially, it’s critical then that you know WHEN to get involved.  This simply means identifying a stage in the path where you know the train is coming, and it’s time to go flip the switch.

No matter what behavior you’re trying to change, there are predictable points that inevitably lead up to that unwanted behavior.  They are always there, even though sometimes they’re more hidden than others.

You need to identify these precursors, and then choose the one at which point you know you need to step in and deliberately manage the change.

3.  Early warning systems

Now that you’ve identified some of these predictable precursors to the action you’re trying to avoid, you need to “install” warning systems.  Trigers that will tell you the train is coming, so you’re ready and aware before the train gets to the point of divergence.

Smokers, for instance, are able to recognize times (or environments) where they’re most tempted to buy cigarettes, or light up.  By identifying these precursors, they can avoid ever even letting the train get to that point of required intervention.  They can avoid the decision-moment’s altogether.

Incidentally, this is why some people find that change is easier when they change their whole environment.  Some people will move, change friends, or take a prolonged vacation when they’re trying to change something substantial.  By changing your environment, your mind creates new connections that represent where you are.  It lessens the “sameness”, which helps force your brain to look for new pathways.  It’s often very difficult to change when you’re surrounded by the same things, especially when those things often are mentally or emotionally associated, or connected with what you’re trying to change.

4.  Script the critical moves

When the decision-point comes, when the train is at the switch, or when the neural pathway is at the point of divergence, you don’t want to be deciding what to do.  You need to have the decisions already made.  You need to have it scripted, in detail, what you’ll do.

5.  Repetition

Remember, the strongest connection is the one with the propensity to win when you’re not deliberately involved.  So crucial to sustaining change, is strengthening the connections that support your new actions.  That’s done through repetition.

Once you successfully produce a behavior that adequately represents the change you want in your life, you’ve got to repeat it, over, and over, and over, CONSCIOUSLY, until it becomes second nature.

This is why some say that you’ve got to repeat a new behavior for several weeks in a row before it becomes a habit.

This is critical.  The more repetition you can get in, and the quicker you get it in, the sooner your able to ease off on the “deliberate” end, and the less likely you’ll be to slip into old habits if you drop your guard, or your early warning systems fail you.

6.  Visualization and simulation

It’s actually possible to physically strengthen the desired connections, without having to physically perform the actual act.

The mind is usually unable to distinguish between what is real, and what is not.  That’s why you can wake up from a dream, with your heart pounding in your chest.  It’s why you can raise or lower your pulse, just by focusing on a memory, or a particular thought.

This is a powerful tool for change, and is often used by professional athletes, or military personnel, or other instances where there’s high risk (cost) associated with failure.

Pilots will spend hours in a simulator before ever taking a plane off the ground.  I’ve written a lot more on the power of simulation and visualization here.

Suffice it to say that the more you practice that action mentally, before it actually happens, the more likely you are to be able to perform appropriately when the time comes in real life.

7.  Segmentation

When the behavior you’re trying to change is highly complex, it’s valuable to deconstruct it into several smaller components that you approach independently.  It’s hard enough to get your brain to follow a single, new pathway, but complex behaviors entail hundreds of pathways, and sometimes more.

Even the most engaged, deliberate “train conductors”, can’t manage all of that in the moment.

So it pays to simplify.  Find the sub-elements of the behavior that are easily segmented out.  Work on them independently (following all the steps here), so that when you need to put them together as a whole, those neural connections are already “prepped and ready”.

A lot more on the idea of segmentation and the use of microcosms here.

8.  Create an environment of change

Realize that changing the biological structure of your brain on a cellular and molecular level requires a lot of energy.  We’re talking real energy, as in blood glucose.  Managing change is hard, if not impossible if you’re not providing your brain with ample energy to manage it.  Critical to this energy supply is rest, exercise, and diet.

Contrary to popular belief, your brain IS producing new brain cells constantly.  It’s called neurogenesis, which is crucial to learning (and that’s what change is… learning a new behavior), and memory (how strong those connections are).  This takes place primarily in your hippocampus, which is highly involved in memory.

Neurogenesis is fueled by a chemical known as BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor), which acts as a fertilizer to fuel growth of existing neurons, as well as creating new ones.  BDNF creation is enhanced by exercise.

Exercise also increases circulation, or the ability of your brain to deliver energy (glucose) and oxygen to your brain.

It’s simply irrational to assume your brain, using as much energy as it does, can substantially change it’s physical structure without you creating an environment conducive to that change.

In short, change is going to be hard, as I’ve mentioned.  Your mind will have to work overtime.  So give it a rest.  Give it some food.  Give it exercise.  And be committed to investing in your change for a while, until your new actions become habits.

9.  Fault-tolerance

It’s highly unlikely that all your attempts to change are going to be successful.  You’re going to fail.  That’s natural.  Don’t get overly upset by it.  Get upset enough to be motivated to keep working, but realize that failure is part of the path to success.

Use your failures as learning points to identify breakdowns, and holes in your prevention system.  Find the weak spots, fix them, and move on.  Just don’t get discouraged and stop.

More on fault-tolerance here, and controlled failure here.

10.  Introduce pain points and fail-safes

The effects of failure can be mitigated by successfully employing some of the prior steps, like simulation, segmentation, and visualization, but even then, you can’t avoid all failure.

Consequently, if you really care about sustaining change, you’ll want to install fail-safe’s.

Fail-safe’s are devices which ensure, in the event of failure, that there will be minimal harm done.  Like when you’re driving down a canyon and you see those side-rails along the rode where the edge is particularly steep.

Those are fail-safe’s.  If you suddenly lose control, it’s likely going to keep you on the road.  You’ll still suffer some damage, but you won’t go plunging into the ravine.

You can take the same approach to changing your action.  For instance, if you’re an alcoholic wanting to quit, you could ensure that any alcohol in your house is kept in very small quantities (best to remove them altogether, but if you’re not ready for that…).

Similarly, you can help avoid certain behaviors by introducing pain into the system.  For instance, people with credit card spending problems will sometimes freeze their credit cards in a block of ice.  It ensures that if they want to use it, there’s a certain amount of pain associated with getting it out.  During which time they’re able to “cool down”.  It gives our metaphorical conductor time to get out and take control of the situation.

Change is inevitable.  It’s part of living a healthy, productive life.  Don’t beat yourself up about your need to change.  Just follow these 10 steps, which will work wonders on enhancing your ability to initiate and sustain meaningful change in your life.

And good luck.


Life Engineering, a motivational, scientific self-help website to help you overcome your past and achieve success in life

A couple weeks ago I had the most remarkable experience. I had the opportunity to take my family to visit Angela Johnson at her sculpting studio in American Fork, Utah.

What Angela does defies description (see below). The story of how she got there, is even more amazing.

Before I tell her story, here are some photos from our visit to show you some of her current work sculpting images of Jesus for a huge exhibit on Christ being built at Utah’s Thanksgiving Point.

You can click each image for a larger picture.

sculptor of Jesus, it's never too late to change your life, set goals, and achieve your dreams

sculptor of Jesus, it's never too late to change your life

sculptor of Jesus, it's never too late to change your life

sculptor of Jesus, it's never too late to change your life, set goals, and achieve your dreams

sculptor of Jesus, it's never too late to change your life, set goals, and achieve your dreams

sculptor of Jesus, it's never too late to change your life, set goals, and achieve your dreams

sculptor of Jesus, it's never too late to change your life, set goals, and achieve your dreams

sculptor of Jesus, it's never too late to change your life, set goals, and achieve your dreams

sculptor of Jesus, it's never too late to change your life, set goals, and achieve your dreams

sculptor of Jesus, it's never too late to change your life, set goals, and achieve your dreams

sculptor of Jesus, it's never too late to change your life, set goals, and achieve your dreams

sculptor of Jesus, it's never too late to change your life, set goals, and achieve your dreams

sculptor of Jesus, it's never too late to change your life, set goals, and achieve your dreams

sculptor of Jesus, it's never too late to change your life, set goals, and achieve your dreams

I include my family in this shot, so you can see a sense of scale – this sculptor of Christ walking on the water is 16′ x 16′, the Savior Himself is over 6′ tall.  The following shots are various angles of this one gigantic sculpture.  You just don’t get a sense of the “presence” of the piece though, unless you see it in real life.

sculptor of Jesus, it's never too late to change your life, set goals, and achieve your dreams

sculptor of Jesus, it's never too late to change your life, set goals, and achieve your dreams

sculptor of Jesus, it's never too late to change your life, set goals, and achieve your dreams

sculptor of Jesus, it's never too late to change your life, set goals, and achieve your dreams

sculptor of Jesus, it's never too late to change your life, set goals, and achieve your dreams

sculptor of Jesus, it's never too late to change your life, set goals, and achieve your dreams

sculptor of Jesus, it's never too late to change your life, set goals, and achieve your dreams


But the most remarkable thing about this experience was her story. I’d seen some pictures of Angela’s work (she’s a friend of the family), and wanted my kids to have the rare opportunity to see something so magnificent in actual progress.

She kindly welcomed us to her studio, where she gave us a small tour, mostly just letting us absorb the work on our own terms. Then she sat us down at a little work table where she had a small block of clay for each of us to mold something out of.

While we worked, she told us her story.

Angela was in her mid 30’s, and was a professional opera singer (we asked her to sing “Amazing Grace” for us, and it was incredible).

One day she was sitting at the piano working on some music, when suddenly she just felt the urge to do something different. Totally different. She wasn’t happy with how her current career was going, and thought that she should change.

She stood up, and being artistically minded, drove down to the local art shop where she ended up buying some clay, more on a whim than anything else.

She came home and sculpted a little girl. Once she started, she just couldn’t stop. When she was done, she realized this was what she wanted to do. So she did. She dropped her current career right then and there, and pursued her new one with vigor.

Now, only 12 years later, she’s one of the best sculptors in the nation.

There’s a lot more to Angela’s story that let’s you appreciate just how much she’s overcome.

I left her studio inspired. Inspired that people can change, no matter how old you are. Inspired to pursue my own dreams, no matter how far they may seem from my current course. And more importantly, inspired to share with others her story, that they may receive the same inspiration.

It’s never too late to change. It’s never too late to do something remarkable… to BE remarkable.

Angela Johnson is an example of that.

Angela Johnson - anyone can change


If you’d like to see more of her amazing work you can visit her website. These were just a very few of the pieces she’s currently got in her workshop, some of the best ones are on tour, but there are photos on her sites. (see her portfolio, and purchase some of her sculptures)

I am the light of the world foundation, where you can donate to her current project at the Garden at Thanksgiving Point

In conducting research for my upcoming book “Escape Velocity”, I asked the following question about change, on LinkedIn.

I got terrific responses, from terrific people (including a psychotherapist, a scientist, a banker, a microbiologist, project managers, marketers, authors, to IT professionals, career coaches, and CEO’s).

I wanted to share them, unedited, in the author’s own words, here.


Among those who WANT to initiate some meaningful change in their life, it is true that some people are able to change, while others are not. What are the distinguishing characteristics between these two groups? What are the common denominators amongst those who successfully do change?


Christine Hueber

Because they want to & they believe they can.


Gina Abudi
Consultant: Strategic Solutions

I agree with Christine’s answer and would add that I do think others can change – just a bit slower at it sometimes or don’t know how to go about making a change. Frankly – change scares many people and tendency is to avoid it. Also – making meaningful change in one’s life leads people to think they have failed at something – and people don’t want to feel like they have failed.

This will be an interesting topic!



Scott Byorum

Author at Dooley Downs

  1. Most people need a clearly defined WIIFM (what’s in it for me)
  2. People may not want to give up something known for something unknown, even if what is known is hurting them
  3. Habit and comfort are difficult to change
  4. The energy or stress can be too overwhelming to initiate the change
  5. They have to be ready
  6. They have to be willing
  7. They have to be able
  8. They may not feel they have a network of support
  9. Past experiences of change have not gone well
  10. Past experiences of change have gone well
  11. They were raised to embrace change
  12. They were raised to be wary of change
  13. They are part of some ideology, religion, or group that either embraces change or is wary of it
  14. They may think the change is beneficial, but do not like the people initiating it
  15. The circumstances/timing will affect the desire to change
  16. What is said about the change through family, friends, spouses, co-workers, and/or the media affects the perception of the change, even if it runs contrary to their own desires for or against it
  17. The change requires too much financial burden
  18. The change calls for too much time investment
  19. The change will affect (good or bad) relationships with others
  20. The change is not well defined or lacks a clear path

I’m sure there is more, but that’s off the top of my head.



Bernard Gore
Programme and Project Management Consultant

I would say, everyone CAN change, but there is a wide spectrum in terms of how willing, and how much incentive/pressure is needed to make them change.

It’s certainly not a binary can/can’t change!

“Why are people different?” – because they are, its a fundamental requirement of any species to survive that there is a wide variety in any aspect, including willingness to change – if they didn’t have this they would have died out long ago – that’s evolution 101.

Taking that back a stage further – why is a variety of willingness to change an evolutionary trait – at first glance maximum willigness to change would seem good in evolutionary terms, resistance to change as bad. In reality there are plenty of situations where being too wiling to change is bad – it leads to flighty, inconsistent behaviour and means the tough tasks and discoveries don’t happen – many of the great discoveries have been people who stick even blindly at something when everyone else thinks they are mad and chould have changed.

As a change management professional I generally need as many as possible to be open to change, and to identify how to encourage those that have resistance, but as an armchair philosopher I can appreciate that the human race has benefitted sometimes from those who adopt a stuborn stick-at-it approach!


Julian Niemiec
Unemployed: Project Engineer / Planner

In theory everyone can change, but for some its easier than others for a whole variety of reasons, not least of which is personal inertia.

Some people gain pleasure from change and others see it as a means to an end.

People also believe that a change can be so big as to be impossible to achieve (This used to be me) where the reality is that even the smallest step can have a big impact and its the little steps that lead to the big change.

We are also controlled by our environment – people, places etc – and sometimes we don’t change incase it effects others in a negative way.

The lesson I’ve recently learnt is that we all change every hour of every day and its within our own power to make small changes if we want to grow.


nithy r
Marketing and Advertising Professional

Why would anyone want to change?

There is always an incraving to be ourselves. No matter how much we mask our feelings or acts in front of others. The inner craving or want to be myself will always be shown.

We just cannot escape that feeling, but once you come to an agreement with yourself that you can’t change YOURSELF but CAN surely change the way you react to oneself or a suituation. We will see ourselves differently. And when we love this differently feeling and want or start wanting to be differently; the past just over writes itself with the NEW being. That’s when a transformation happens.

Acceptance of oneself or being Aware of oneself in the fullest form.


Justin Rohatinsky
Branch Manager at Robert Half International

Hey Rusty,

Very interesting topic. I’d have to say there are a few differences between those who do or can, and those who don’t or can’t.

1 – First being fear – never a good thing. I see people and companies every day who are scared to change because there’s a small chance that things could be worse after “the change” than they are now. Never mind the fact that there is a much greater likelihood that things will be better – the risk is not worth the reward to them.

2 – Second is lack of motivation or laziness. People and/or companies are ok with where they are. They probably even believe that things would be better if they changed, but they’re not uncomfortable enough or unhappy enough with their current situations to actually start WORKING towards change (and it’s always – 100% of the time – work).

3 – The third is that they lack the knowledge of how to change. They are not creative enough to come up with a solution to their problem. They know change is needed, but have no idea how to approach the question – “who do we want to be after our change and how do we get there”?

I’m not sure those thoughts will be of much help to you, but I hope you have great success with your book!



Claus Schmidt
VBA magician (MS Office automation), Information Architecture wizard, and Experienced Quantitative Analyst

Off the cuff, I don’t believe that it’s about ability.

I think more important factors are motivation (cost/benefit) as well as personality traits such as perseverance (or ignorance).

Just my two cents :)


Tom Williams
Seasoned leader with background in multiple disciplines.

“Escape Velocity”…catchy, I like it.

I see a lot of other people have taken a lot of time to respond.

I will keep it brief however because I believe you have already zeroed in on the answer with your title.

I work with a lot of people that are so far from being able to escape that they don’t try. You may succeed in convincing some to take on a mountain of a challenge and a few may succeed, and even fewer will succeed long-term. The characteristic of the ones I have seen succeed are somewhat selfish. These people become singular in purpose and that purpose becomes THEM. They become self absorbed which the average person finds unpleasant in others…but that’s what it takes to move a mountain.


Seth Kaufman, psyd, certified career coach
Career Change Coach for successful professionals ready to find your ideal career and make it a reality.

A precise and compelling vision of who you want to “be” in the future is the foundation for all positive change. Without a clear and compelling target, you will sooner or later lose your motivation.


David Mullin

Graduate student at Jones International University

“People’s minds are like cement- all mixed up and permanently set” (anonymous).

The risk of change can be more frightening to some than others. Natal charts do, in fact, point out many of the characteristics of the two groups that you highlight. Interestingly, they have not been adopted by business, yet. Hypocrites, Father of modern medicine, stated that no one should treat another without first examining this chart.

Of course, th faculty of human will is not fully developed at this particular junction (in human evolution). Ergo, some might understand change, but not be able to act. Conversely, those who have developed this capacity more than others will obviously be in a position to change more readily.

One cannot understand the human being, without understanding the spiritual aspects that animate the physical, simply put.


Neha Kaushal

Change is the only permanent thing in life. Everybody is able to change, the difference is only in the will & determination. There are situations in life when if you keep on sticking to old things & old ways the growth becomes stagnant.

There is no point of doing the same things or doings things in the same way & expecting better results in the end. Things & ways has to be changed with changing time. People get used to the way they are & change require little efforts to make things better & to make your own personality better.

The only difference between two groups is some accept this thing in time & some a little later.


Neha Kaushal


Sahar Andrade
I help companies increase their ROI by engaging my services as:Social Media Marketing Consultant|Diversity Coach|Speaker


I dont think it is a matter of people being able to change or not but rather do they know how to do it or not

People dont change for many reasons some of them:

  • being scared of any changes
  • Not knowing the unknown and fear it
  • Not wanting to leave their comfort zone
  • Not knowing that change in needed
  • Psychological issues where they feel it is everyone else needing to change and not them
  • Cultural issues coming from a culture for example where change is not looked at the correct or in a respectful way specially when it comes to men of age
  • Not being educated enough

While those who can change:

  • Either are in a place where they know they have to change like being in a marriage where either partners know if they wont change they will cheat themselves out of the marriage or at work where if they dont change they will loose their job
  • They are well educated and can plan for the change
  • They have access to help and support

The comon characteristics is resilience, success, open mind and joie de vivre


Nanette de Ville
at Life Reflections

Hello Rusty,

Change is always good and should be looked at that way. Sometimes it is difficult at the time to understand the unseen benefits.

Life’s lessons often push us to change and sometimes it takes an experience of personal pain before we will make efforts to change our lives for the better.

Many people are afraid of change and afraid to step out of their comfort zone. To start a cycle of positive change in life all it needs is a small step out of the comfort zone to trigger changes.

It requires listening to your intuition and follow the feelings that are triggered as to whether you are moving in the right direction or not. Keep following the feel good emotions.

Need to be strong to follow what is good for you and not listen to negative reactions from family and peer groups.


Morgan Landry
interviewer at DSS Research

We talk about this a lot at a web site I frequent, and after much discussion, the consensus seems to be the following:

1) The people who actually want to change are able to change.

2) The people who say they want to change, but really don’t, come up with all sorts of reasons about why they are unable to change. It’s their inability to want to change that renders them unable.

3) The people who really want to change but can’t have typically run into external factors/regulations/etc. that prevent them from helping themselves or others. They simply figure out a way to leave so they can change. Whether it’s an impotent US Congress or a corrupted Africa, people figure out a way or die trying.

The trick is figuring out the people who really want to change from the people who just want to whine about it. There’s not much of a trick, actually: Just suggest a solution. The people who actually want to change will consider if it will work for them — and generally they conclude it does, or if it doesn’t work, they figure out a way to adapt it to work in their circumstances. The people who really don’t want to change will shoot down suggestion after suggestion after suggestion without much thought, all the while whining how difficult it is to change.

I hope that helped a bit.


Tirumalai Kamala
Immunologist, Microbiologist, Organizer

Hi Rusty,

First there has to be a recognition that change is necessary. Then, we are told to “learn from our mistakes”. That did not mean much to me until I had the epiphany that I had to first “own my mistakes”. The one cannot happen without the other. In the process, I have to acknowledge the elements that contributed to the mistakes (my fears, inadequacies, habit of ignoring instincts and advice, etc). Change follows.



David Facer
Dir. Product Management at UCN

Top-to-bottom alignmens: If the leadership wants change, but the “common” folks in the org don’t, it’s easy enough to subvert it. Conversely, if you have visionary people in your ranks who are trying to make change happen, but they have no executive support, the no change.


Terri Kern
CEO at The Terri Kern Company

All people are able to change. Some people take action and do change, some don’t. Action the difference between group one – those who do, and group two – those who don’t. The common denominator with people in group one is they’re willing to step out of their comfort zone, create new habits and/or plans and put them into ACTION.

Hope that’s helpful.


Martin Dorrance
Vice President – Zions Bank

Some it seems are pre-destined to follow the paths of their parent’s mistakes and misgivings in life. Some are able break free with relative ease and people call them the exception. When in reality it was simply a decision on what path in life they decided to take. Change is easy when you view it in its simplest form, it is just another decision.

I could look back on terrible things in my past and use them as an excuse to make poor choices or justify bad behavior, but I refuse. Who I am now is made up of all the bad and good in my life. All have shaped me to the man that I am now.

I thrive on change and look forward to change; it adds excitement and a new view to work and life. The ability to be flexible is what makes change an acceptable alternative to the norm, or the stagnation. Those that have rigid thoughts, actions, timetables and beliefs struggle with change in my mind.



Tom Linde

Not all change is good. Most of us know someone who happily launched into ill-advised decisions. Evolutionarily, we adapted when we changed as a species or perhaps a tribe, but as individuals, STABILITY was, and still is, highly adaptive.

So I’d say that identifying logical reasons not to change is a good first step. For instance, your change may shake up your marriage, create anxiety, carry unforeseen consequences and so forth.

Next, it’s a much less a matter of sophistication, motivation, education, intelligence or any of these other elements that are relatively static. When you focusing on traits, you’re looking at what is hard to change and all you’ll see is barriers. Sure, many people make fantastic changes with apparent natural spontaneity, which the rest of us may identify as strength of character or some nonsense. But anyone in the right circumstances will make huge changes.

We’re all creatures of reinforcement. We do what pays off for us, and we generally do what pays off in the short-term. Big changes generally mean putting off rewards and inviting discomfort in the short term, and so to see this through we need strategy. A good strategy will take into account the elements of (1) cognition – e.g. ways to counter automatic negative thoughts, (2) behavior – e.g. break all tasks into manageable components, and (3) environment – manage all the contingencies, maximize support and so on.

“Just do it” works fine ifs the goal is to run in the rain. For something like career change, it’s a recipe for failure.


Meijke van Herwijnen
Owner, Visiom

Hi Rusty,

In response to what Claus Schmidt says: it’s usually not about actual ability, but more often about perceived ability. On a daily basis I meet people who are somehow convinced that they won’t be able to change their lifestyle to start feeling fit and healthy. This is not true (as they usually prove later on), but they need to have the courage to face their fear to fail or to be disappointed.

You might be interested in the research and techniques developed by William R. Miller (motivational interviewing).

Also Dr. Ben Fletcher and Dr. Pine did research that pointed out that people who are more flexible (i.e. are used to changing simple daily behavior) are more likely to succeed in changing significant behavior.

Best regards,
Meijke van Herwijnen

I posted earlier about the “all of a sudden” syndrome that we so often fall victim to, wherein the phenomenon of “change blindness” often hides important details from our attention. Sometimes this is due to our attention being directed elsewhere, and sometimes it’s because the change occurs in such small, incremental degrees that we fail to notice. (See post for more).

The following are some entertaining videos that illustrate this very point with frightening clarity.

See if you can pass.

My favorite (most entertaining):

Awareness test (most frightening):

Most educational and instructive:  (esp. around 1:19)

Life Engineering, a motivational, scientific self-help website to help you overcome your past and achieve success in life

Want to change your future, change your life, reach your goals, then change your thoughts.Your mind is extraordinarily powerful.

Without even thinking about it, you breathe, digest, circulate blood, release endorphins, feel, hear, taste, and see.  All these things are processed instantly and automatically within your brain, with no apparent effort.  Enough processing occurs within your brain, and without your attention, to keep your body – the most complex creation on the planet – running smoothly.

What’s even more powerful and amazing though, are the impact of our conscious thoughts.  The ones we actually devote time and energy to.

Every dream that was ever realized… every invention that was ever created… every innovation, every milestone, every leap of any significance once originated as a simple thought.  A thought that was nurtured, and refined.

It has been said that we tend to move towards our most dominant thought pattern.  If those are primarily negative, then the direction our life inevitably turns the same direction.  There’s a reason the most successful people you meet are predominantly upbeat, optimistic, can-do kind of people.

The more positive you think, the more positive you feel.  The more positive you think and feel, the more inclined and motivated you are to act, create, improve, and change.

Indeed, thoughts are the seeds of action.  And actions are the seeds of our future.

Want to change your future?  Then change your thoughts.

Today I read an inspiring article on CNN about Scott Silverman.  About twenty three years ago Scott was on the verge of stepping out of an open window on the 44th floor.  His life was a shambles.  He was depressed and despair had taken hold of him.  Fortunately, a coworker stepped in and he didn’t go through with it. Today, that same Scott Silverman runs a program called “Second Chance” in San Diego California.  Second Chance gives people just that – another shot at life.  From people fresh out of Rehab to people fresh out of prison, it teaches them basics like how to write a resume, how to conduct a strong interview, gives them a place to live (which also gives an address so they can get a job), and what’s more, places them in an environment of positive change.

Second Chance has helped more than 24,000 individuals, partnering with local companies who make repeat hires because they’ve had such a good experience.

Remember, this is the same Scott we talked about before.  A man who turned his life around so successfully, and who has made such a positive impact in the lives of so many others that last month, San Diego declared one day as “Scott Silverman Day”.

Anthony Panarella, an ex-convict who graduated from the program said “Little kids have Superman or Spiderman.  I have Scott Silverman”.

Remember, no matter where your life is right now, the most powerful things before you are not obstacles, nor the events of your past, but the undeniable opportunity to change your future

Thanks Scott for being such a fine, living example of this, and thank you CNN for choosing to report so well on such an important and valuable story.

(Note:  The entire CNN story can be found here

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