Make a Change

Make a Change: The 4 Things Everyone Needs Before They Can

Do you wish you knew how to help people make a change and bring out the best in those around you? Do you get frustrated by the way people around you act? Are members of your team not living up to their potential?

Then you came to the right place.

It can be hard to make a big change when you are weighing the time it’ll take, if you’re able to, and the benefits and drawbacks.

It can be even harder to get started if you feel like the change is being forced upon you. No one likes being told what to do – especially if they feel what they’re doing is adequate or better.

For anyone to change, there are four things we need:

  • ownership of the change
  • the physical ability to make the change
  • emotional courage to experience difficult feelings
  • future-proofing so people believe the change isn’t a waste of time

By the end of this post, you will understand all four and have a clear idea of how to inspire change in those around you. You’ll be able to create a more successful team at work or even a more exciting social life.

The Biggest Myth About Change

We are regularly told that people are resistant to change.

But what about all the ways people embrace change?

We move away from home, adopt new hobbies, make new friends, change jobs and careers, go back to school, get married, get divorced, have kids, make radical decisions during a midlife crisis, so on and so forth.

It’s not that we are resistant to change.

“People don’t resist change. They resist being changed.” – Peter Bregman on the AoC Podcast


As humans, we value our autonomy. We are willing to go to war against incredible odds to take back or achieve autonomy at individual and societal levels.

So if a friend approached me and said, “You need a more positive attitude!” my defenses would naturally go into overdrive.

“Need? What do you know about what I NEED? My attitude is positive enough already! I love my life! What do I need a more positive attitude for? I’m happy, I have great friends, and I live the life I want.”

The funny thing is I don’t feel I “need” a more positive attitude. But I would argue having a more positive attitude would benefit anyone, including myself.

The point is: the words we use and the way we communicate are important if we want to have a positive impact on those around us.

The 4 Things Everyone Needs Before Making a Change

A person needs the following qualities in order to change and make that change stick—even when doubt and criticism comes their way.

Ownership of the Change

To commit to making a change, I must first feel it’s my idea.

It doesn’t matter if I initially get the idea from someone else. It is important that I feel like it’s mine before I commit to changing.

For example, let’s say someone tells me, “Hey, you should hit the gym more. Your age is catching up with you.”

Regardless of the person’s intention, my instinctive reaction would be to take it personally. My mind would do an inventory check on how I’m sitting and what I’m wearing. I might think about the last time I was naked in front of a mirror. And I would certainly think of all the excuses for why I’m already working out enough.

Instead, what if that person tells me he’s going to start working out more because he’s getting older. And then asks me if I want to join him?

The ball would then be in my court to decide if going to the gym more often is in my best interests. My thought process might sound like, “He makes a good point—maybe I should start working out more. My body doesn’t seem to be responding as well to one or two workouts per week.”

Additionally, the more ownership a person has over the changes he makes, the more he is able to justify or defend his actions when questioned about them. The pressure from our peers is actually one of the primary reasons people find it difficult to stick with changes they make. The people around us expect us to act a certain way and when we act outside of those expectations, it undoubtedly brings up questions.

Situation A:
Her: Why are you doing it this way?
Him: My boss told me to do it this way.
Her: Well, that’s dumb. Why not just do it like you used to? Your work was great!
Him: Maybe you’re right.

Situation B:
Her: Why are you doing it this way?
Him: Well, doing it this way actually saves me a couple big headaches. And it allows me to stay on schedule with the two other projects I’m working on.
Her: Oh, yeah, that makes sense. Good idea.

Independent Capability to Make the Change

I have to believe I’m capable of making the change, otherwise, why would I even try?

If someone doesn’t have confidence in themselves to make a change, providing support and encouragement can help. But that someone is still responsible for walking the path.

So, if verbal support isn’t enough to give someone the belief in themselves to make a change, what can you do?

You can’t walk the path for them. But offering to walk it with them can make it easier for them to take the first step. And knowing you’re there will make tackling obstacles along the way more manageable.

Emotional Courage to Work Through Difficult Feelings

Emotional courage is your willingness to experience difficult feelings and work through them.

Making a big change can be hard because it often involves facing difficult feelings. And after initially facing those feelings, you then have to live with them until you come out on the other side.

Changing careers or taking a big promotion at work can feel intimidating and nerve-racking until it becomes the new normal. Breaking up with someone can be painful for everyone involved until enough time has passed. Going back to school after a decade or two in the workforce can make you feel insecure until you’re familiar with the professors and fellow students.

If you’re willing to acknowledge those feelings and face them, you realize the possibilities on the other side are endless.

But if you don’t have the emotional courage to work through difficult feelings, don’t worry, you can develop it.

Start by noticing how you feel the next time you are faced with difficult feelings. If it’s the fear of feeling a certain way that stops you from doing something, think about how you would feel after making the change instead.

For example, waking up in the morning to work out can feel like the last thing I want to do. But I know the way I’ll feel after the discomfort of working out is worth getting out of my comfortable bed and riding my bike to the gym.

Do you know someone struggling with the emotional courage of trying to change something?

Ask them what they see as the worst-case scenarios.

If it’s a problem in the modern world, chances are none of those worst-case scenarios involves bodily harm or death. While discomfort is uncomfortable, we humans are more than capable of handling periods of discomfort.


When we think about making a change, we want to know the work we put in won’t be a waste of our time.

Let’s say your boss asks you to spend the next month learning a new process of performing the work you’ve been doing for a decade.

After reviewing what she wants you to do, you realize you’re more than capable of learning the new process.

However, you might want some evidence that the new way of doing things is more effective. Additionally, you might want to know the new way won’t be changed again in a few months.

If you want someone to change, make it clear how that change won’t be a waste of time and how it will benefit them in the long run.

In a Nutshell

The only way to get people on the path of change is through a process that empowers them.

It’s not enough for you as an individual or your company to be excited about a new idea. Change starts with empowering those around us to:

  • allow them to take ownership of the change
  • help them realize they’re capable of making the change
  • help them find the emotional courage to feel difficult feelings
  • provide evidence that will make future success seem more likely

Understand these four concepts and interact with the people around you by leading them instead of ordering them around. Then change won’t be a scary proposition for you or the people around you. They’ll see it as an opportunity for growth that will benefit them in the long run.

If you want to learn more about this topic, check out our interview with Peter Bregman. Peter blends his deep expertise in business, leadership, and people to deliver quantifiable results in business, professional, and personal development, and is the bestselling author and contributor of over 18 books, including his newest book, You CAN Change Other People: The Four Steps to Help Your Colleagues, Employees—Even Family—Up Their Game.

If you want the confidence to build a life on your terms and pursue your wildest dreams without hesitation, we’re here for you. We can help you make this happen by providing expert coaching in our X-Factor Accelerator mentorship program. You’ll have the control and rock-solid belief in yourself you need to seize opportunities in your career, inspire those around you to be their best, and live life on your terms.

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