How does meaningful change actually happen in our lives?

I’ve been exploring this question with my coach, Dr. Daniel Friedland, author of Leading Well  from Within.

Danny has been leading me through a process of self-coaching. I’ve come to appreciate that  leadership is largely the capacity to coach others to coach themselves so they can rise through  powerful cycles of continual learning and growth (aka Active Learning Cycles).

It’s inspiring to me to be able to share this process with you here in RiseWithDrew, in support  of our rising and experiencing meaningful change together.

I invite you to begin thinking about a time in your life where you experienced a meaningful  change.

Often, change begins with an experience.  Something happens.  Perhaps it’s an event.  A  significant event.  Perhaps it’s a comment someone makes or something we read that strikes us  in a particular way.

But, does an experience by itself bring about change?

While experience itself is vital, it’s often insufficient. (The evidence?  History repeats itself…)  

Real change occurs when we reflect on the experience and then take action.  

In other words, ideas alone don’t change the world.  Digestion and application of ideas changes  the world.

The Active Learning Cycle has 3 components.  Danny calls this cycle “the Infinite Curriculum”  because it does not stop.

  1. We have an experience or take in content.
  2. We reflect on that experience or content.
  3. We decide to take action.

Which leads to another experience… about which we reflect… and then we decide to take  action… and so on…

Perhaps another (better?) question is: Why don’t we change more?  There are plenty of  changes we would like to make to improve our lives.  We want to change!  But, we don’t  always.

Why not?

As humans, we are good at step one.  We read the book.  We attend the workshop.  We watch the TED talk.

Unfortunately, we aren’t as good at steps two and three.  We don’t make time to reflect.  Life is  busy.  We’re in a hurry.  

Or, assume we do complete step two: we reflect.  We put together a plan.  Perhaps we have a  conversation about the change we are going to make.    

But, it can still fall apart at step three: we don’t act.  Perhaps our plan is too big.  We want to  swallow the entire ocean.  Today.  Now.  Or, perhaps we get distracted.  Perhaps our  perfectionism kicks in and we realize we aren’t very good (yet) at whatever it is we want to do  and we quit.  Or, as in my case, we want to keep learning.  Endlessly.  More learning!  Learning is  fun!

Step one is relatively easy.  Steps two and three, not so much.    

So, what can we do?

Step two – reflection – is all about asking good questions.  Why is this important? To me, to my family, or to  my team?  When have I been successful in the past?  What does this say about my  strengths?  How could I capitalize on my strengths to take action?  What’s a good next  step?  What’s an “experiment” I could run?   

Step three is like the Nike commercial tells us: Just do it.  Today!  Schedule it.  Put it in the calendar.  State our intention publicly.  Ask someone to hold us accountable.

That’s how change actually happens.  Experience, reflection, action.  The infinite curriculum.  That’s how we get better at getting better.  

It’s also the reason why I’m inviting you to reflect at the end of each of my blogs, including this  one 🙂


Reflection:  Consider a change I’d like to make in my life.  Why is this change important to  me?  What is a good next step?

Action:  Commit.  Do it today.

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