Episode 64: Overcoming Immunity To Change With Deborah Helsing [The Amiel Show]

Deb Helsing

This week on the podcast, I welcome back Deborah Helsing to discuss Immunity to Change: what it is, why it matters for leaders and organizations, and how to overcome it.

Deb teaches at Harvard and heads up Coach Learning Programs for Minds at Work, the company created by Bob Kegan and Lisa Lahey, who coauthored Immunity to Change.

Deb and I previously spoke about deliberately developmental organizations.

This time, we met at her office in Cambridge, to explore why every time we try to change, we look down and discover our foot is on the brakes. Yikes! And, more importantly, how to use our understanding of this messy situation to our advantage!

Highlights

  • 12:00 Seeing the brilliant way your psychological immune system operates
  • 18:00 Hidden or competing commitments, the brakes on change
  • 22:30 Feeling the pit of your stomach is a very good sign
  • 35:00 Some people felt tricked by flipping complaints into commitments
  • 40:00 Designing safe experiments to test your untested assumption
  • 46:30 Which developmental stages benefit from this approach?
  • 49:30 How Immunity to Change approach nurtures developmental change

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Episode 55 Charles Duhigg on Smarter Faster Better [The Amiel Show]

Charles Duhigg pic

Charles Duhigg’s first book The Power of Habit spent over a year on the New York Times bestseller list. In addition to being popular, it was darn good.

So when I heard he was coming out with a second book, Smarter Faster Better, I invited him for an interview. After several back and forth emails with his friendly team of publicists, he accepted. (Although I’ve interviewed other luminaries like David Allen, this was my first experience with a publicist–other than the one I hired to help with Practice Greatness.)

The new book’s subtitle is The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business. I forgot to ask him which part of business is outside of life. Or if he thought he’d sell more copies calling it Dumber Slower and Worse–which has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? Otherwise, it was a good interview.

My goal is always to make my guests laugh, praise my genius, or comment on my humility. I’m not sure any of those things happened this time, but I sensed Charles smiling on a couple of occasions. Small wins, people. Small wins.

Enjoy!

Highlights

  • 3:30 Who ate the chocolate chip cookie?
  • 6:00 Charles’s experiments in meeting new people at conferences
  • 11:00 Why psychological safety matters in produces great teams
  • 16:00 Saturday Night Live’s early seasons—how even misanthropes can work well together
  • 19:00 Making better decisions by thinking probabilistically
  • 26:30 Subversives in nursing homes—transforming chores into choices
  • 28:00 Marine Corps Boot Camp—improving self-motivation by asking why you are doing something

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You’ll be amazed by how much self-motivation gets generated by asking yourself why.

–Charles Duhigg  Tweet this quote

 

Lorne Michaels models psychological safety and he’s not even a particularly nice person.

–Charles Duhigg   Tweet this quote

Explore Additional Resources

New to Podcasts?

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  1. Sign into iTunes using your ID and password
  2. Search the iTunes store for “Amiel Show”
  3. If you get a screen without a Subscribe button (a screen that looks like this), click on the show logo in the lower left corner
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Give Me a Rating or Review on iTunes (It’s Also Easy!)

  1. Sign into iTunes using your ID and password
  2. Search the iTunes store for “Amiel Show”
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  5. Give it a rating. Bonus for a review

 

Episode 6: James Flaherty on How People Change and Where Excellence Lives

James Flaherty taught me how to coach, created the organization where I met my wife, and challenged me to grow myself as a person.

That’s quite an influence for one person, don’t you think?

In Episode 6 of The Amiel Show, I had the privilege to talk with James about some big stuff I’ve learned from him. We discussed:

  • 3:00 So much of our experience is an interpretation versus a fact “out there”
  • 8:20 Why self-observation is as important as 360 feedback
  • 13:30 Truly changing involves our bodies, social worlds, and language
  • 24:00 Excellence is evoked in relationship rather than something we create alone
  • 30:30 Aristotle’s notion of excellence, including all parts of ourselves
  • 35:45 What’s up with emotions in our culture
  • 43:00 Executive presence happens in the body
  • 51:50 What James is deliberately practicing to develop himself

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Teaching Doctors How to Say “I’m Sorry”

Seven years ago, on a hill overlooking Portland, I taught fifteen medical students how to apologize. It wasn’t part of their curriculum. It wasn’t why I was invited to speak.

But life is about seizing opportunities. In this case, the opportunity was to transform the grief of losing a child into a teachable moment. Not by lecturing. Not even by telling a story. But by cajoling future doctors to say out loud the words I wished I had heard six months before.

What followed was a test case for the notion that you are what you say—and that what you say matters—a lot.

Sorry

The invitation came from an OB/GYN known in the community for being compassionate with patients, particularly those with difficult pregnancies. He wasn’t our physician, but he heard about us through the grapevine. And we knew him by reputation.

Regaining Center After The Bull Strikes

He came after me like a bull charging a matador.

“What’s your success rate? I need numbers. What percentage of your clients get promotions?”

These were fair questions for a prospective client interview, and I’d heard them before. But this man, an up-and-coming executive, delivered them with an intensity and ferocity that was surprising. He was testing not only my experience, but also my fortitude.

Bull attacking

“I’m not sure,” I stammered, suddenly feeling like a six-year-old boy facing the class bully in a far corner of the playground. “I, um, haven’t tracked that too closely.”

Six-year-olds don’t make good matadors. This bull tasted blood.

“Then what are you going to do for me? What…are…you…going…to…do…for…me?”

ASAP Is A Four-Letter Word

Want to get things done more smoothly and reduce the number of crossed wires in your life?

Then stop saying “As Soon As Possible” (ASAP). Today.

On the surface, ASAP is useful in conveying urgency. It says I’m in a hurry, so do this fast. It also rolls off the lips easily. The two syllables convey that you are serious and need results now.

ASAP sign

Unfortunately, as my first boss taught me twenty years ago, ASAP is one of the greatest sources of organizational conflict and suffering. Every time you say it, you triple the odds of misunderstanding, dropped balls, and disappointment. The reason is simple: ASAP means different things to different people—not sometimes, but all of the time.