What Really Changes Lives? (#901)

In nearly 25 years of working with others in the field of personal change, I’ve had the chance to work with well over a thousand people one on one and tens of thousands in workshops and seminars. In some ways more importantly, I’ve had the chance to follow the lives of many of these people over time to see what has been truly transformative from our work together and what may have helped them through a challenging period or in reaching a goal, but hasn’t fundamentally changed anything about their life.

On one of the pre-course calls for Supercoach Academy 2014, Dr. George Pransky shared two distinctly different models of change that neatly summarized the difference in results I’ve observed over time. What follows is my interpretation of what Dr. Pransky presented as I’ve seen it to be true in my own life and practice.

The first is an application-based model, and it works something like this:



In this model, we come across an interesting or useful concept and immediately look to apply it to our lives. If it makes a difference, we create some kind of a practice or discipline to incorporate it as a regular feature of how we live our lives. If we are successful, it becomes a habit and we develop a degree of mastery in applying it.

The effectiveness of this model can be seen most easily in skill based endeavors like learning to play an instrument, win at chess, or dance a waltz. First, you get the idea; then you put in the hours to develop a level of facility or even mastery at the skill.

The second is an insight-based model, and is dependent on having a genuine insight into what something is or how it works:



History is littered with insight-based breakthroughs, from Descartes development of the Scientific Method to the invention of the sewing machine to the discovery of the structure of DNA.

Having an insight is like getting a joke – it takes something from the realm of the intellect into a deeper part of the mind – a place of realization and knowing. After an insight, you would no sooner go back to doing things in an old way than you would deliberately take the long way home once someone showed you a user-friendly shortcut.

While an insight-based approach offers less direct control than an applications-based one, it invites instead the possibility of fundamental, effortless change. You don’t need to practice not drinking poison in order to get good at it; you don’t need to remember to smile in a business meeting when you’re genuinely happy to see the other people in the room.

Here’s a personal example that might go some way towards illustrating the difference. It became obvious to me towards the end of 2012 that I had my most creative ideas in the midst of “tinker time” – time which was not committed to any particular appointment or task. So I began blocking the first three hours of each working day to what I called “the Creativity Factory” – time that was deliberately unscheduled and unplanned that could be used as a breeding ground for fresh new ideas.

To map it onto our applications-based model, it would look like this:

CONCEPT (unstructured time fosters creative ideas) + APPLICATION (the Creativity Factory) = RESULT (developing several new trainings and products in 2013)

The problem, as is nearly always the case when we attempt to apply something we only understand conceptually, is that life gets in the way. While over the first part of the year I was able to keep my “Creativity Factory” time relatively sacrosanct, by September I was lucky if I had one hour to myself in any given working day.

However, somewhere along the way, I had an insight into the fact that I was innately creative. The idea “got onto my eyeballs”, and I could see that the key variable in my own creative process was simply allowing my natural creativity to emerge, not setting aside a pre-determined number of unscheduled hours. It stopped looking to me like I needed to block out time to be creative, and I started having inspired ideas at a faster rate than ever before, many of which I will be rolling out across 2014 and beyond.

This is an example of the insight-based model in action:

CONCEPT (unstructured time fosters creative ideas) + INSIGHT (I am naturally creative) = FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE IN APPROACH (walking into every area of my life from a place of inspiration and creativity)

What I attempt to share in all my work are the principles behind insight – an understanding of what it is that gets something “onto your eyeballs” and what gets in the way of seeing with clarity and living with well-being. I look forward to sharing more with you over the next year, and in particular to connecting face to face and saying “hello” at a live training or future event.

A very merry Christmas to all who celebrate it, and I’ll talk with you again next week!

With all my love,


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