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« Ask the Expert: John Ryan - Part 2 | Pursuing Change »
Tuesday
Feb282012

Ask the Expert: John Ryan - Part 1

John Ryan, The Life Change NetworkIn line with our February theme about, change, I’ve launched a new monthly feature called, “Ask the Expert.” I’ll be interviewing industry leaders who will share their insights and wisdom with you. You’ll have the opportunity to learn from and interact with the best of the best.

My gratitude and thanks goes to John Ryan, change expert extraordinaire, for being my first guest. He was so generous with his answers that I’m sharing the interview as a two-part series. Part 2 will post tomorrow. Come back to learn more because the wisdom he shares is too good to miss. Before we begin, here’s some background about John.

John Ryan, MBA, MSW, PhD is the co-founder of The Life Change Network and creator of The 7% Solution.  He is a professional speaker who provides consulting and coaching to individuals and organizations throughout the world. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or his website.

 

Linda: You’re an expert on helping others successfully navigate change. What are the key ingredients for success?

John: Great question.  As we all know, change is guaranteed, success is not.  So what can we do to make sure that we create the change that we desire?  While there certainly are a lot of factors that impact our ability to navigate change, the three most important are what I refer to as the 3 Building Blocks of Success

1. The first building block is Strategy.  If you decide that you want to build a house, one of the first things you need is a blueprint, your plan for getting it done.  So, you have to have the right strategy. 

In life, part of that is figuring out where it is you want to go.  What is your outcome?  That must be the first question we ask ourselves when faced with change.  Either we have a plan, or someone else has a plan for us.  It is clearly much more empowering when we are in control because we’ve formulated our strategy.

2. While knowing what to do is important, it’s not enough.  You must also have the second building block of Desire. We have to have desire.  We have to want things to be different.  Otherwise, nothing will change. 

We may know exactly what we need to do to create the success that we want but if we don’t have enough desire, we hold ourselves back, we never get off the couch, and we never really go for what we want.  So we have to have desire.

3. The third piece is Resources.  Even if we have the right strategy and we have a strong desire, you can’t build a house if you don’t have the tools, the lumber, or the lot!

Those are the building blocks: Strategy, Desire, and Resources.  But the piece that binds them together is the mortar, which is Action.  Even if we have the right Strategy, Desire, and Resources, none of those matters unless you take action.

Those really are the keys to success in change and in life.  In fact, life is change and the greater our ability to identify our goals, connect to our desire, and use and acquire the tools we need to accomplish our goals, the better able we are to accomplish any goal.

 

Linda: What are some of the reasons we are challenged with making the changes that we desire?

John: One of the main reasons that we don’t make the changes we desire, even if we know the change will be good for us, is fear.  We are hardwired to resist change.  One of our core needs is consistency.  Consistency gives us safety.  When we start making changes, it messes up the status quo and it is not our conscious mind that has the problem, it is our unconscious.

If you’ve ever tried to “get healthy” you know exactly what I’m talking about.  Consciously, we know we should eat healthy, drink more water, and exercise.  And so we start on a new diet or workout routine and we actually start to feel better.  We say to ourselves, “Hey, this isn’t so bad, I can do this.”  We say that consciously, but our unconscious mind isn’t excited about these changes at all.

One of the main functions of the unconscious mind is to protect the body.  Well, then why would it resist being healthy?  The answer is that it doesn’t know any better.  The unconscious mind thinks that everything you’ve done in your life thus far has kept you alive so it wants you to keep doing that since it is what has worked so far.  But, this new “healthy” stuff, that’ll kill ya!

So what happens is we have conflict.  We consciously want one thing and our unconscious wants another.  Guess who’s going to win?  That’s right….our unconscious mind because it is a lot more powerful than our conscious mind.  You’ve heard that we only use 10% of our brain’s power. That is referring to our conscious mind.  The other 90% is our unconscious mind.

So until we change our unconscious mind, we will struggle with change, even if we know it is good for us.

 

Linda: Why do some of us embrace change while others fear it?

John: The “why” of anything usually goes back to childhood.  Most of our mental programs are established by the time we are seven years old.  That is the imprint phase where we absorb thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs from our environment without question.  It isn’t until we hit our teenage years that we begin to question our environment and think for ourselves. The problem is, the patterns are already well established. 

Our attitudes toward change really come from those patterns that were created early on in life.  But that doesn’t mean that we can’t change our attitude.

While the patterns we learn early in life affect our baseline attitude toward change, we can decide for ourselves what a particular change means to us. And there lies the power.

Change is neither good nor bad, it just is.  It is the judgment that we make about the change that determines whether it is good or bad.  What does the change mean to us?  How is this going to impact me and those I care about?

While all change involves loss, if only a loss of the way things used to be, some losses are more emotionally significant than others.  Loss of a job has huge repercussions.  Loss of a loved one has even more.

And certainly there is pain there but what you do after that is a choice that we have.  If you lose your job, you are forced into a choice about what to do next. Do you take the first job you can find or do you take the opportunity to start the business that you’ve always dreamed of doing?  Or perhaps you can use it to find the job you’ve always wanted. 

Understand, the loss of a job threatens the consistency and safety that we talked about earlier.  So there is going to be some fear there but we can choose what we want to focus on.  By focusing on what you want, you can turn that loss into a meaningful event that makes us stronger. 

We’ve all been through things in life that we didn’t know how we were going to make it but we did. And we can draw on that experience to keep us forging through life’s greatest challenges.

Now, on the extreme end of change is loss of a loved one.  And nothing is more difficult than this type of change.  And it is very hard finding meaning, especially when it is untimely.  And many people never find meaning in that loss and that is okay.  Sometimes we carry around that pain and it never makes sense.  That is our choice.

Other times, people take that loss and they turn it into something else.  We’ve all heard of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which is the breast cancer foundation.  Susan Komen’s untimely death at age 36 due to breast cancer inspired her sister to start the foundation so that other patients wouldn’t have the same result.  That is creating meaning from loss.

Part of our inspiration for creating The Life Change Network was the loss of my mom, Diana Ryan.  She also died of cancer and out of that loss, my wife, Deana, and I decided to create the community so that others going through change wouldn’t be alone and could get the help they need. 

Whether you’ve lost a loved one, lost a job, are getting married, or starting a new business, these changes cause stress and it helps to connect with professionals and like-minded individuals who can guide you through it.

So whether we embrace change or fear it depends on the meaning we associate to it.  The power comes in realizing that we can choose what the change means to us.  And that makes all the difference in the world.

Come join the conversation. Share your thoughts or questions about change. I invite you to stop back tomorrow for Part 2 of John’s interview when he shares more ideas about change.

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Reader Comments (19)

Stellar stuff here from John Ryan; succinct, smart & totally engaging - this guy knows his stuff! Can't wait to read part 2! Fabulous interview!

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGrant Willcox

Grant- Thanks for joining in and sharing your positive feedback! Since you are an "infectiously positive success coach," I'm especially glad to know that you found value in John's thoughts about change. Part 2 will post in the morning. Please stop back again. Wait to you hear what John has to share! Wonderful stuff.

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

Linda, and John - I appreciated several points here in particular - (1) The power comes in realizing that we can choose what the change means to us; (2) By focusing on what you want, you can turn that loss into a meaningful event that makes us stronger. #1 - We can choose, but we are often so overwhelmed by the emotional fog we're in that it's hard to believe we really DO have a choice. And #2 I appreciated because in our work, Linda, we can play a supportive or collaborative role with our clients, as they create their next vision, chapter, phase of life. I love that about what we do. And I loved reading about 'change,' in John's world.

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSue West

Sue- I appreciate that you enjoyed John's perspective about change in relation to the organizing work we do. John's point about choosing what change means to us resonated with me too. We don't always have a choice in the changes that occur, but we can alter our perspective to find meaning or growth in all change. Thank you for taking the time to join in and share your thoughts. I understand that you'll be a blog contributor for LIfe Change Network. Let me know when you post, I'm know you will have wonderful ideas to share.

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

Linda and John, I so appreciate this new Ask the Expert feature!

I appreciate that the ultimate message is that "we can choose what the change means to us". It is from moving from the fear, being overwhelmed, sadness or perhaps even feelings of guilt, that we focus on the end. It is more than embracing change, it is envisioning change.

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

Oh, Ellen! I love your phrase, "envisioning change." Fantastic! I'm also glad to know that you like the new "Ask the Expert" feature. John has such insightful thoughts about change. There will be more amazing experts coming to share in the coming months. I can't wait to share them all with you.

You are always a wonderful participator in our conversations and I'm grateful that you joined us again. Come back any time.

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

What a marvelous and hope-filled conversation about moving through change and creating success. So often folks get stuck just 'reacting' to stressful and painful situations, and forget that it really is possible to keep moving forward. So long as the (emotional) rewards of remaining stuck feel greater than the determination and resources to move ahead, people won't change!

There is so much fear, especially right now with the entire country trying to navigate through collective stress. We might be tempted to hunker down and get self-protective. And while sometimes that's the healthiest choice, most times there comes a time when we can choose to overcome the fear and grab passion and find that dream!

~RJ, the HOPE Coach
http://ronaejull.com

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRJ, the HOPE Coach

Ronae- What wonderful reflections about focusing on passion and hope to move through change, even in the face of fear. We need to think larger and get out of our own way. Your messages are always filled with hope, which I appreciate. We need more of that, especially in the face of uncertainty. Thank you for sharing your insights and taking the time to join our conversation.

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

Hi all,
Thanks for the positive responses to the article. I hope these ideas help you and others make the changes you need in your life. It seems like the idea of choosing the meaning of change is connecting with many of you and that is great to hear as it puts us in the driver's seat.

Talk to you soon!

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Ryan

What a nice format this interview is, Linda!

Lovely words and so inspiring to embrace change in life. It's so easy to fall in the trap of resisting and never changing. Maybe my lifestyle - a Navy spouse, has taught me to just embrace it, but I learned to embrace the pain of leaving loved ones behind and by doing so I was able to enjoy the new more fully.

When working I try to convey this message to clients, even if it's just a mug that's "resisting" to move out of the cabinet! :-)

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHelena Alkhas

Hi Helena,

I think that the Navy has afforded you and your family plenty of opportunities to adapt to change, but I would suspect your ability to adapt and embrace it really comes from you. I can imagine that there are Navy spouses who do not embrace it as readily as you. That is a testament to your positive attitude!

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Ryan

Helena- I love how your experiences as Navy spouse and strength for embracing change has enhanced your ability to help your clients move forward. Thank you for taking the time to stop by to join in the conversation. Part 2 of John's interview is about to post. Love to have you come back to join the dialogue.

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

I am in full agreement with everything John Ryan said. It is this year that I am finally starting to see how to connect the scrambled puzzle of advice I've collected throughout the years into a WHOLE vision!

And one of the greatest words of wisdom is "Change is neither good nor bad, it just is." It just IS....and it is our perception that judges whether it is good or bad. Reading this perspective today adds more fuel to my understanding and focus on the change that happened in my past and the change that is yet to come.

I totally can relate to both examples of change he provided; the loss of a job and loss of a loved one. It was the loss of my temp. job earlier this year which fueled my focus to pursue my passion which is health and nutrition; I am taking 3 steps back by continuing my education so that I can take 10 steps forward in a career of passion rather than fight to be in a career that is planned by someone else's passion.

Additionally, the pain of losing my grandmother,who at times loved me more than my parents combined, fueled a passion to learn more on how to prevent the preventable with education. My Grandmother passed away due to health complications that could of been prevented! And I do not want to see this history repeat in my family and to anyone else if I can help it!

I appreciate this article, I am even more inspired and empowered. <3

March 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHermelynda

Hermelynda,

Thank you for sharing your story. It's inspiring to hear how you've taken two difficult life events and used them to propel you forward toward your passion for health and nutrition. I can tell that you'll bring a unique, compassionate perspective to all that you do. And I know you will help many people. I appreciate you taking the time to share your insights with us. Wishing you all the best as you continue on your journey.

March 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

I love how John breaks this down to strategy, desire, resources, action and willingness to change. Many creative souls try to be successful while only implementing desire and willingness... this usually falls short. Terrific formula for success.

March 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStress Free Kids

Thanks for joining us, Lori and adding to the conversation. You are right that while desire and willingness are important, they are not enough to bring about change. The other ingredients that John talks about (strategy, resources & action) nuture the seeds through to completion.

March 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

Hi R.J.,
Great point that it is okay to be self-protective, if that's the best choice in the moment. But after the moment has passed, you're right, we can then go forward and overcome our fears.

March 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Ryan

HI Stress Free Kids (Lori),
That is an awesome point, it would be so much easier just to be able to want something to happen and have it occur, but there has to be more, specifically action at the very least. Strategy we can work out as we go, but no action equals no results!

March 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Ryan

Hermelynda,,
Wow, I can definitely see how those would resonate with you. I'm glad to hear it connected. Thank you for sharing about your experiences and congratulations on taking action towards your dreams. I love it!

March 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Ryan

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