How can you help people make meaningful changes in their lives? Why is directionality important when helping someone solve a problem? Can you be an ally instead of a critic to yourself?
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with Peter Bregman and Howard Jacobson about how you can change other people in a way that supports them and does not foster resentment.
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Meet Howie Jacobson, Ph.D
Howie Jacobson, Ph.D., is an executive coach to clients ranging from startup founders to established and rising Fortune 100 leaders. He is director of coaching at Bregman Partners and head coach at the Healthy Minds Initiative.
Howie’s mission includes helping kind and generous people grow their capability and scale their influence, sharing the joys of a healthy life, and reintroducing people to their most authentic, best selves.
He hosts the Plant Yourself Podcast, where he interviews remarkable people engaged in healing at the individual, institutional, and planetary levels. Howie is the author of multiple books, including You CAN Change Other People, with Peter Bregman, and Sick To Fit, with Josh LaJaunie.
FREEBIE: Get your free copy of Sick To Fit!
Meet Peter Bregman
Peter Bregman is the CEO of Bregman Partners. He created and leads the #1 leadership development program in the world, the Bregman Leadership Intensive, and trains leaders and managers on the Four Steps through the Bregman Leadership Coach Training program. He has consulted with C-level executives in many of the world’s premier organizations, including Citi, CBS, Showtime, and Electronic Arts, to name a few.
Peter is the host of the Bregman Leadership Podcast, with over 1.5 million downloads. He has given four TEDx talks and regularly delivers keynotes for associations including Coca-Cola, the Discovery Network, L’Oréal, Deloitte, and Fidelity.
Peter is also the bestselling author of five books including Leading with Emotional Courage and 18 Minutes.
In This Podcast
- People are drawn to change
- Four-step formula
- Helping someone professionally and personally
- Howie and Peter’s advice to private practitioners
People are drawn to change
People desire to change, especially now at the end of the year, where millions of people commit themselves to making a positive change in their life.
We’re drawn to change, and we’re drawn to growth. The question is how we can then help people do that and a lot of times what we end up doing is trying to force change on them or the changes we want them to make, and that creates resistance. (Peter Bregman)
The important distinction here is that people want to change but they do not want to be changed.
If you want to and are going to help people change, you have to do it in a way that supports their longing, desire, and growth process. For people to properly change, they need:
- Ownership of their change; it has to be theirs.
- Independent capability. They need to be able to follow through on the change.
- Emotional courage. This is the willingness to feel.
When we don’t change, there is something that we don’t want to feel. If I’m not following through on having a difficult conversation with you, it is because I don’t want to hurt you or I don’t want to be hurt by you … if I am willing to feel everything then I can do anything. (Peter Bregman)
1 — Be an ally instead of a critic
- Sees a deficit or something wrong in the person or with the situation
- Gives unsolicited advice
- Gives baseless motivation
These are all forms of criticism which lead to shame, and shame is one of the emotions we would do almost anything not to feel. So, we can become defensive and deny that there is even a problem. (Howie Jacobson)
Instead, be an ally.
- Is caring and them-focused
- Expresses confidence in their ability to handle the situation
- Is committed to helping them get better
2 — Outcome
Be in the conversation but do not start with what is wrong. Often the problem on the surface is not the whole problem but is instead a symptom of something much deeper.
Ask someone, “what is the outcome that you are going for here?” This change from the negative to the positive gives people a place to move towards instead of a place to move away from.
3 — Opportunity
Find the opportunity in the problem. Remember that the solution to the problem is not the absence of the problem. Look for the opportunity that lies beneath the problem as that is the real pot of gold.
4 — Plan
The plan is using the insight garnered from the previous steps into some new action of doing, being, and saying in the world that can lead to genuine transformation.
Remember that failure is data, which is vital to growth. Stay in the conversation instead of letting that put you down.
Helping someone professionally and personally
There is a difference between helping someone else and maintaining your boundaries, and this is true both in personal and professional relationships.
We get to advocate for ourselves. We don’t want to turn into an either-or. The idea of the formula … is that these are your best odds of getting them to take some ownership and begin to change in a way where they are not resisting you or resenting you. (Howie Jacobson)
Find the common ground between what is important to them and what is important to you.
Find a way to support one another to both get what each person needs, and this happens in conversation.
Howie and Peter’s advice to private practitioners
Howie — Your professional skills are useful in the wild. You do not have to put on your therapist hat to be able to influence people positively.
Peter — Be generous with your work because this work is in support of human beings and greater life. Can you also be generous with yourself? What is the change that you want in your life, and what is the support that you need?
Books mentioned in this episode:
Useful Links mentioned in this episode:
- Visit The Plant Yourself Website and listen to the Plant Yourself podcast.
- Connect with Howie on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn
- FREEBIE: Get your free copy of Sick To Fit!
- Visit the Bregman Partners website
- Connect with Peter Bregman on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn
- Therapy Notes – try it for free for 3 months by using the promo code ‘JOE’
Check out these additional resources:
- Annie Schuessler on how to build products outside of counseling | PoP 650
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Meet Joe Sanok
Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.
Thanks For Listening!
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[JOE] This is the Practice of the Practice podcast with Joe Sanok, session, 651.
I’m Joe Sanok, your host, and welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. I hope you are doing amazing today. We’ve had all sorts of things going on throughout December. Hope you’re taking advantage of all of those. One thing that we have been covering is Pillars of Practice. Over at pillarsofpractice.com you can get our free e-course. It’s all about either starting a practice or growing a practice. We have videos in there. We have our eight-minute experts where it’s eight minutes, I set a timer and we talk about money, we talk about doing progress notes, we talk about marketing, SEO all in eight minutes. So you can get that totally free over at pillarsofpractice.com.
As well, today we have two amazing authors. I’m so excited about these too. They have a book called You CAN Change Other People. You CAN Change Other People. So first we have Peter Bregman, who is the CEO of Bregman Partners. He coaches, writes, teaches and speaks and is recognized as the number one executive coach in the world by leading global coaches. He coaches C-Suite executives in many of the world’s hop organization; CBS, Showtime, AMC networks.
As well, we have Howie Jacobson who has a PhD, is an executive coach to clients ranging from startup founders to established and rising Fortune 100 leaders. Howie is the author of AdWords for Dummies, co-author of Sick to Fit and Use the Weight to Lose the Weight. So all sorts of amazing background here, but I’m so excited to just have these two guys here to talk about their new book, You CAN Change Other People. Welcome to the show Howie and Peter.
[PETER BREGMAN ] Thank you, Joe so much. It’s so wonderful to be here with you.
[HOWIE JACOBSON] Thank you.
[JOE] Well, Peter, why don’t we start with you? You and I were just talking before we got rolling about the idea of changing other people. This title oftentimes we hear in the therapy world, “Hey, we can’t change other people. We can only change ourselves.” Tell me your thoughts on that.
[PETER] I understand the frustration with trying to change other people, but when a therapist or coach or anybody says you can’t change other people, you can only change yourself we’re saying it to someone in order to try to change them. We’re probably saying it in response to their attempts to try to change other people, and we’re trying to change their approach. So we don’t really believe it. We know, especially in these professions, you know I’m a coach, I’m in the profession in order to help other people change in order to help them grow and develop and up their game. So, no, I actually think it’s totally not true. You can totally change other people, but the kinds of things we say and do to try to change them backfire. They create resistance to change instead of facilitate change. So it’s about how do we help everybody act actually like a therapist, like a coach, to help you people change in a way that’s productive and that creates positive lasting change.
[JOE] Well, I can’t wait to get into some of the mindsets, techniques, kind of things that you teach in the book. But Howie, tell us a little bit about the backstory of this book. Why is this book important? Why is it timely right now? Tell us a little bit about that backstory.
[HOWIE] I think partly it came about because of a little, a minor, little tantrum that I had when Peter and I. We were at Eslan. Peter was teaching his course training coaches, how to be good coaches, how to be better coaches. I take that course whenever I can whenever Peter offers it in a newsletter. I’m like, oh my free, can I get to that place? I’ve taken it three, four times. So I was there and Peter announced that this was going to be his last time and he was just moving on, doing other things. I talked to him afterwards. I said, “You can’t not keep doing this. This is too good to just share 50 people, a hundred people, like this is really life changing information. It’s so empowering for people to be able to become influential in positive way with other people in their lives, which then can sort of ripple out.”
In the end, I think I sort of talked us into, okay, well, let you want to write something? Go for it. So we ended up thinking about, okay, this is a book about coaching and then it turned into a book that uses the principles of coaching for everyone. So we spent months simplifying it so that it was accessible, not just to people who took professional level coaching courses, but to anyone who has anybody in their life that they want to help get unstuck or go to a new level.
[JOE] So quick selfish side note question, Peter, how do you get to speak at Eslan? Is that something that they approach you, you approach them? What’s the backstory there, if anyone listening, not saying that’s what I’m trying to do, but say there’s someone listening “That’s like, Hey, I’d love to speak at Eslan.
[PETER] You know, these days it’s changing a lot because Eslan, Copallo, Omega, all these people are trying to figure out how to be basically a cruise ship on land during an age of COVID. But they approached me. If I remember correctly, I’ve been teaching there for a while, but if I remember correctly, they’ve approached me, but I was already teaching at Copallo and I think there’s a conversation that goes on between,, and they’re different. I mean, when I teach at Copallo I get a lot of people, like 80, a hundred people. I signed up to teach at Omega and I got nobody and we canceled the class. It’s like they’re within an hour of each other. So I don’t know how it works.
[JOE] Well, I think that’s so good to hear because sometimes we hear these like top coaches, top podcasters and just assume it there’s a certain point when it just gets easy. But then to hear you say, nobody signed up for my class, like makes me feel a little bit better about myself. Thanks for boosting my ego there. I appreciate that. Well, take us through some of just the principles of the book, kind of big picture of how you can change people, some of the philosophy behind it. Then I’d love to just have kind of a conversation where it’s less me just kind of calling on you to answer questions, but just to discuss the concepts of the book. So walk us through some of the main concepts of the book.
[PETER] Sure. So the first concept is the general idea about change, that people don’t resist change. They resist being changed. So people make and choose to change in their lives all the time. At actually people hire therapists, hire coaches in order to help them change. They not only want to change, but they pay money to help people, to ask people to help them change. We’re talking now where people are listening to this right now over the holiday days. This is a time where millions of people commit themselves to changes that they want to make. Right now, everyone, probably a lot of the people listening are sitting here going, okay, so what do I want to have be different for this year?
You know, like we’re going into the new year, it’s a marker. How do I want to change? What are the things I want to change? So we’re drawn to change. We’re drawn to growth. The question is how we can then help people do that. A lot of times what we end up doing is we try to force change on them, or the changes aren’t changes that we want them to make and that obviously creates resistance. So that first piece is people want to change. They don’t want to be changed. So if you are going to help people change, you want to do it in a way that supports their longing and desire and own growth process. And ultimately what people need in order to change is ownership. They need to own the change. It has to be theirs. They need independent capability. They need to be able to follow through on the change. Follow through is more important than success.
So even if they follow through on baby steps that don’t get them there yet, that’s great. So ownership follow through emotional courage, which is the willingness to feel. This is a great audience who understands this really well I think. When people don’t follow through on something, it’s almost never because they don’t know enough or they’re not skilled enough, or they don’t have time and opportunity. If people find time and opportunity they can develop skills. My kids who are, who are younger than most of the people listening to this podcast, figure it all out by watching YouTube videos. Like we could figure it out if we need to figure it out. But when we don’t change, there’s something we don’t want to feel.
If I’m not following through and having a difficult conversation with you, it’s because I don’t want to hurt you, or I don’t want to be hurt by you, or I don’t want to us to get into conflict, or I don’t want you to feel shame or I don’t want to feel shame. So I’m not going to do things that make me feel those things. If I’m willing to feel everything, if I’m willing to feel shame and defensiveness and anger and passive aggression, if I’m willing to feel everything, then I can do anything. So emotional courage is very, very important to develop. Then finally resilience. As we change, we confront larger, more in interesting and more challenging obstacles.
So can we continue to grow in the face of these challenges? So the first place to start in this is what is it that people need in order to change. They need ownership, independent capability, emotional courage, and resilience, future proofing, what we call future proofing in the book. The traditional ways we try to change people. Don’t often get us those things. So there’s a way to do it and those are the four steps. Maybe I could punt over to Howie to describe the four steps in brief.
[HOWIE] Sure. So the first step is to shift our own approach from that of a critic to that of an ally. By critic, it means I there’s some, I’m seeing something wrong. I’m seeing a deficit. So criticism is a form of being a critic. Nagging is a form of being a critic, but also things that we think of as positive, like advice. If I give you advice, unsolicited, that’s telling you that I think I know more than you do. So that also can create that feeling of resistance and shame. And finally motivation, like, “Joe you really should do, imagine what would happen if you did this thing.” As if you couldn’t already imagine it. As if you couldn’t already imagine, boy, what would writing a best selling book do for me? What would losing this weight do for me?
So these are all forms of criticism, which lead to shame. Shame is the one emotion we would do almost anything not to feel. So we can become defensive and deny that even there’s a problem. So that’s one of the main ways we create resistance. So, instead approaching as an ally, which means to be caring about them, as opposed to prioritizing our own agenda for them, expressing confidence in their ability to handle this. Because by definition, why would we even talk to them if we didn’t think it was going to work? So there’s a truism there that if we’re talking to them, we’re confident in them. Then let’s express that rather than sowing seeds of doubt with the criticism. And finally that we’re committed to helping them get better and we’re going to be there for them. So there’s all sorts of ways in which we sort of prepare ourselves. And Peter, I can punt it back to you for the permission formula, because we’re like the ally first step, the deliverable is they say, yes, I give you permission to help me
[PETER] And Joe, we might just be tossing this ball back and forth. So don’t hesitate to interrupt. Don’t hesitate to like, I don’t want to —
[JOE] No, no, this is great. I love the passing back and forth. It makes it easier for me. I do have one question to jump in while you say that. Do you feel like people need to have a starting point of, you know I often hear people say, oh, that person has a victim mindset. Like the world is happening to them versus maybe a more proactive advocate mindset where I’m going to go into the world and I’m going to shape and change and grow or a growth mindset. Do you feel like if you’re dealing with someone that has a victim mindset where life just happens to them that this works less effectively than someone that maybe has more of a growth mindset?
[PETER] No, actually we love the victim mindset. I mean, we don’t love the victim mindset, but we love it as a tee up because it’s harder than the alternative, which is not engaging at all. So if someone complains to you, we call that a silver platter opportunity, meaning they’re complaining, they’re total victim. They have not in any way articulated a desire to change, but they have articulated a problem, an obstacle, a frustration. So now we’re in a place where we could be an ally with them to help them resolve that frustration. We’re not there, that’s actually a perfect tee up for this formula. Because the formula is empathy, confidence, and permission.
So if someone’s complaining to me, then it’s a perfect next move for empathy. Because we can empathize like, yes, that’s hard. It seems like hard. You’ve got someone who’s super disruptive on your team or you’re really struggling with your, let me think in terms of this audience specifically, like your partners on their social media all the time, and you want to sit down and have dinner with them and they’re just kind of flipping through their social media and you’re complaining. You’re complaining to me about, God, it’s like, not only am I really angry at my partner, but the society is problematic and Facebook is evil and we are going down a hole and like they’re revving up. And now they’re talking about the destruction of civilization.
So from our perspective, what I would say with the formula is first to let them talk a little bit and they go, wow, I could really see what a struggle this is. And I see it because I see the struggle all over the place. I feel it too, which is honest. And I can see that, how destructive it feels in your life and I can really feel you and I know that you manage these situations very skillfully all the time. And this is a tough one because it’s both individual and societal. Do you want to think about it together? Do you want to think about how you might approach it? Do you want to think about it together? Now, we have to be okay with them saying, no. We’re asking permission. We have to be okay with them saying, no, I don’t want to talk about it. I just want to complain. That’s actually a win also because it confronts the reality. It shares the reality.
Okay, so you don’t want to fix this thing. You just want to complain. I can sit here with you. Like, that’s what you need right now, empathy. I had a situation, a different kind of situation where I had a conversation with someone and I used this formula. “I could see this is really hard for you. I know, I believe in you in a sense and do you want to talk about it? Do you want to think this through together in a way where we might be able to come to some options?” The person said, “No, I don’t.” I said, “Okay, no problem.” I didn’t follow up and I didn’t try to push them and I didn’t, and later that day, they came back to me and said, “I would actually love to talk to you about it now.”
That is fairly predictable. I am not saying it’s going to have happen every time. I’m not saying it’s going to happen every time but think about what we said about change. The first element of change is ownership. If I force them to talk about a solution that they don’t yet want to talk about, I have the ownership. If I say no problem, you don’t want to talk about it, not a problem at all. When you want to talk about it, if you ever want to talk about it, I’m here to talk about it with you. Ball’s in your court and now you have the ownership. If you want to talk about it, you come back to me.
If all you want to do is complain about it, then that becomes self-evident because I’ve offered something and you’ve said no to it. So those are silver platter opportunities that allow us to show up as allies and say, I’m not going to force anything on you, but I’m available to you. And I’ve got some ideas and some ways of thinking about this, where maybe we can think together and come up with something that’s more powerful.
[JOE] I want to get to the rest of the formula too, but how does this work in personal relationships compared to professional? It’s one thing for me to be in a session and say, that’s great. You don’t want to go into this? You don’t want to problem solve? That doesn’t affect me. You leave my office, go live your life, and sadness. I’m not necessarily going to say it that way as a therapist. I mean, you get the point. You go home, it doesn’t affect me. How does it work with kids?
[PETER] Go live your life in sadness.
[JOE] “Why do you think I sold my practice and it was so successful,” if I’m being so blunt. But I mean, I think about, with my kids or when my kids are adults or with my family members, or potentially a partner there is a point where someone else’s lack of doing their own work affects you. And it’s harder to just step back and say, fine, you don’t want that feedback? You live your life. And then you start to pull apart from each other more. How does that look? How would the two of you frame this around personal relationships, then we can get back to kind of the professional side of it. But I’m interested in that too.
[PETER] I’m going to pump this over to Howie, but I do want to say the example that I gave you, where the person came back to me, that was a personal relationship.
[JOE] Mmh, okay.
[PETER] So like, I just wanted to share that that example was a personal relationship. All right, Howie.
[HOWIE] So I think, I want to distinguish between helping someone else and having your own boundaries. So that’s true in personal relationships. It’s also true if you’re the boss and you have an employee who doesn’t want to change. The boss doesn’t just say, oh, well, keep handing in lousy reports late. That’s fine because that’s your right. So we get to advocate for ourselves. We don’t want to turn into an either or. The idea of this, the formula and the four steps is that this is your best odds of helping, getting them to take some ownership and begin to change in a way where they’re not resisting you or resenting you.
That said, so if you can, we then also have like walkaways and bats from negotiation, best alternative to a negotiated agreement. We have like, oh, okay, this is what I’m going to do. I’m unwilling to come get, if you drink at a party, I’m not going to pick you up. We’re going to take away your car keys, but I’m not going to pick you up. So we’re not in all of their worst behavior by not insisting that they talk to us about solving it. Does that make sense as a distinction?
[JOE] Yes, absolutely. It makes me think about how hard that is in some of the friendships or relationships people have sometimes because they know the inevitable outcome if they allow themselves to keep kind of moving in those directions, that marriage may fall apart, or they may actually reveal something that they don’t want to reveal. So then they choose to stay in a C-plus relationship where they’re kind of overworking and overcompensating for that other person, rather than letting that person kind of unfold into who they’re becoming.
I think that’s a challenge for a lot of people to allow that to unfold. I think also the idea sometimes of being in a relationship, a friendship with someone saying for me to be okay with this relationship, you have to change, that’s, I think a tough part sometimes. How do you guys address that where, I think a lot of people say, I don’t want to have to be in a relationship where I’m changing one or you hear, especially early relationships, I love him so much, but if he just changes, then I’ll love him more. It’s like, how do you address that to not get into that, like I have to change people for me to be happy.
[PETER] I think that last sentence that you just said is really important, the last clause of the sentence, which is I need to change someone in order for me to be happy. I generally think that’s a red herring. That said, yes, I’m a parent,, absolutely I want to help my kids change. That’s my job as a parent. As a partner, like as with my spouse, I want to help them in ways that a direction that they also want to move in and we’re in it together. So we have to sit and think about what is it that we want, what do we want this relationship to look like? Are we on the same page?
If we’re not on the same page that’s different. That goes back to what Howie said, which is you have to decide on the boundaries. Like, what are your boundaries? We might not be on the same page in a way that says maybe ultimately the relationship doesn’t work out because you’re really on different pages. That’s important to understand and appreciate. In most cases, in a lot of cases, I don’t know most cases, but in a lot of cases, if you’re willing to sit and say, “Hey, can we talk about this? This is important to me. What’s important to you. Can we support each other in getting to this place that we’re both getting what we need,” that can be very, very powerful.
And it’s a conversation. It’s not coming in with the answers. When Howie and I talk about You CAN Change Other People, a we’re not saying, and you don’t have to change yourself. We’re not saying you’re not a player in this. We’re just saying you can have an impact on people that it helps them make positive, productive change in their lives, in the world. And it doesn’t mean that you’re not also in effect going to change. I consider that, like, that’s a good thing. If we could continue to push ourselves and engage and grow and what we call up your game in our relationships, that is the height of a really positive relationship. It’s often the way you framed it, a little bit the way it’s usually framed is it’s negative when you go, “Oh, I love you. Now change.” If you think of it in a slightly different frame, what more beautiful relationship that becomes a ground that allows us to change and be the best people that we can be, and that we do it, not in isolation, but in relationship? That’s what we’re hoping.
[JOE] It’s almost like I love you and let’s not remain stagnant.
[PETER] Exactly. I like that. I think it might not have made as compelling a broadway play, but —
[JOE] I love you, let’s not remain stagnant.
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[JOE SANOK] So I think I jumped in there with some questions that pulled us away from the formula. Did we get through the whole formula or like, I think there might be more to it.
[PETER] Oh, we just got the first step, which is creating ally’s. Howie is going to take us away with the other three steps.
[HOWIE] Only three. That’s great. So second step, once they say, yes, I’d like to be in this conversation, what we tend to do then as thoughtful, intelligent people is dive right into the problem. Good, tell me what’s wrong. Let’s solve the problem. And the problem with solving the problem is that usually the problem isn’t the problem. The problem is often a symptom of a bigger problem. So by solving the little problem, it’s basically putting a band-aid on this larger opportunity. When we focus on the problem, we’re going again, focusing on sort of fight or flight. Like this is something I want to disown. I want to get away from this problem.
So instead we do a move. This is the most beautiful thing that Peter has taught me just in terms of like using this in everyday life. We say, so what’s the outcome you’re going for here? Before we even get into the details and into the mud and into the knock down, drag out issues, what are you going for? That immediately, that shift from the negative to positive immediately gives people a place to go to as opposed to a place to go away from. So one of our metaphors is like, imagine you’re getting into your car and you put anywhere, but here into your navigation system. It’s not going to know where to take you. What is it where you put in a destination, then we have some clarity. So that’s the second step is to identify an energizing outcome. Something that the person is excited about, which means it’s positive, it’s something they want as opposed to something they don’t want. It’s clear, they can sort of visualize it or feel it. It’s meaningful. It has something to say about their whole life or something. That’s really important to them.
[JOE] Oh, that’s great. What’s step three?
[HOWIE] I keep going.
[JOE] Just keep going with it.
[HOWIE] I’m going to take a large drink of water.
[JOE] You got to hydrate. That is a large drink of water. Those that are watching this video, it is. I don’t know if I could even get my hand around that glass to drink that much water. You’ve been killing the hydration today I can see. I’ve just got my little regular cup of water.
[PETER] Just imagine the kind of jar you would keep fireflies in. That’s the jar that he drinks out of
[JOE] That is a really, yes, here drinking out of a Firefly jar.
[HOWIE] I don’t have another one the same size under my feet.
[PETER] No, you went there.
[HOWIE] I don’t know what you’re talking about.
[PETER] You want me to do the next step, Howie?
[PETER] So we’ve got critic to ally. What is the outcome you want? But you still have a problem. The problem still exists. So step three is to find the opportunity in the problem. So there’s an opportunity always in problems. It’s not so easy to find, but that’s the work and the help that therapists or coaches or others can really do. I actually tried this myself. I thought I had an issue that I was trying to solve and I thought to myself, I’m just going to use the process on myself. I’m just going to go use, and I found I couldn’t actually, that it’s very, very, and it’s an credible shout out to people who are listening and the helping professions, because we really need someone else. We need to change in relationship.
It’s really hard to see opportunities in your own problems. It’s so easy to get, you could still think about the outcome. I could define the outcome without other people’s help although oftentimes people define the outcome as the absence of the problem, and that’s not the outcome. Like I’ve got someone who’s a problem on my team. Oh, the outcome is, I want them off my team. Nah, that’s really like just the absence of the problem. The outcome might be that you want a high performing team. I want a high performing team and this person’s getting in the way. Well, great, now we can say, what’s the opportunity.
And if you just ask yourself, what’s the opportunity of this difficult person, it’s hard to see it. But with someone else is asking you the question, they might sort of say, what’s the upside of their bad behavior? Like this is someone who’s opinionated, who interrupts, who, like, is there an upside? Well, yes, I guess there is. They’re willing to bring things up that nobody else is willing to bring up. And we end up getting into conflict that none of us want to get in, but it’s actually useful for a high performing team. Great. Now we’ve got to begin to think, okay, so how do we leverage the strength and the willingness to be in conflict of a critical member of the team and how do we do that in a way that doesn’t turn off the team and doesn’t turn off the conflict, but keeps it positive and productive and allows us to grow and be a high performing team?
So it’s an asking question. And there’s a number of questions in the book. It’s a process. This is, I think the most intuitive part. When Howie and I were writing, this was the hardest part to lock down. This was the part where all of our chapters were like three to five pages and this one was like 30 to 50 pages? We had to like rework it a lot to say how do we take what’s an intuitive process and create some guidelines around it so that we can help people find opportunities in their problem? So that’s sort of the big, each one of these is a shift from critic to ally, from problem to outcome, from frustration to opportunity and then finally from inaction to traction. Howie you want to talk about step four?
[HOWIE] Sure. Step four is the plan. So I felt like we needed a mnemonic here, because now we’ve got four things to remember. So the mnemonic we came up with is, in basketball, there’s a pass where you throw it really high and your teammate who can dunk grabs it above the rim and dunks it. That pass is called an allyoop. So our mnemonic is allyoop, ally outcome opportunity and plan.
[PETER] That was brilliant. That mnemonic was your brilliance.
[HOWIE] I spent a lot of time watching sports as a child while you were doing useful things, so pays off. So the idea, the plan is now we have know some insight and insight in and of itself is valuable, but it’s got a very short half life. So we want to translate that insight into some new action, into some new way of doing and being and saying in the world that can start to create this sort of iterative change that can lead to like transformation. So the most important thing about the plan we call it, the step is called create a level 10 plan. And level 10 refers to the answer we want when we ask the person at the end, how confident are you that you’re going to follow through on this plan?
As we don’t ask, how confident are you that it will work, because we don’t really care if it will work. We’re asking them to run an experiment. So you talked earlier about people of the victim mindset. So this is the antidote to a victim mindset. It’s the action mindset and the mindset can follow the action. Like you start taking action and you start becoming a person with an action mindset. So we’re looking for something they can do, some option they can try that is going to try to help them achieve that opportunity with, from within the problem that they’re confident that they’re going to follow through on. So that involves sort of that stress testing. How confident are you? If they say 10, great. If they say less than 10, we can brainstorm what’s missing. What else would you need?
Or maybe, okay, this is going to take a leap of faith. What can we do to help stack the deck in favor of you taking this act? So the idea is to get them energized to do something. It can be very small. It doesn’t have to be the whole thing. It can be a single step, but just doing something differently. So, so often when we’re meshed in our problems, we’re just ruminating. We’re just thinking about them over and over and over again and a new action gets a new response from the universe. It’s like, when you cheat at Solitaire, you like take one of the cards you’re not supposed to take and it goes there and you’re like, oh, now everything changes. Now I can put the 10 on the Jack, the nine of the 10. Even the tiniest little tweak of the universe can begin to open things up when they felt stuck before.
[PETER] Also Joe, this is such an important time of year to be thinking about this because both for listeners and also for the people that they’re helping, this is the time of year when they want to make a change in their life. And 90% fail within the first couple of weeks. What happens with that failure is it becomes an ending, meaning they go, oh, well, I tried to not eat sugar. That lasted two weeks. I’m done. The framework is no, how do we, like you’re in an ongoing conversation with your attempts to eat more healthy. It’s not just about not eating sugar. It’s about eating more healthily. And you’re in an ongoing conversation and let’s look at it and let’s find, let’s identify the outcome, be fit, be healthy, et cetera.
Let’s look at the problem, which is I’m seduced by sugar, because you know, who isn’t. I mean, I don’t know. Maybe some people aren’t. I’m seduced by sugar. I can tell you that as someone who’s a little addicted. And it’s like, and so where are the opportunities? Every time I see sugar, there’s an opportunity for something. So what’s that opportunity for me? And then let’s try some things. And failure is literally data. It’s data for us. So if we’re in a larger conversation about moving towards fitness or healthy eating and I’ve failed, I haven’t failed. I’ve got some data about what’s working and what’s not working and where my weaknesses lie and where my strengths lie.
And let’s just stay in the conversation instead of letting that lead us to giving up on the thing that we want. You take something like a new year’s resolution, which is a one and done, and you fail once and then you’re done. Now, let’s have it be part of a conversation that as therapist, as coaches, as friends, spouse, that we’re having people to help them kind of maintain and grow and develop their skill and capability and momentum and ownership and resilience and future proofing and emotional courage in making the kinds of changes that they want to make in their lives.
[JOE] I just love how much, you know we weren’t on each other’s radars at all before this and how much of what you’re talking about of moving from this fixed mindset, this blueprint, this industrialist mindset into experimenting and trying and getting data, it’s like you read Thursday is the New Friday and I read your book and we just copied each other. Because it’s like, there’s so many overlaps where I feel like what you’re talking about is a perfect sequel to my book or maybe a prequel to my book. Because it’s so in the same way that so many people are shifting away from that industrialist mindset and this experimenting approach, what I often call the evolutionary approach to business where it’s organic, it’s changing, it’s shifting. It’s just so awesome to find people that are kind of in that same lineage of thinking right now. The last question I ask before we talk about how people can get your book is if every private practitioner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know? Why don’t we start with Howie?
[HOWIE] A tough one. Let me think. I would want them to know that, and I say this as someone who came late to this particular party, being a coach for 20 years before it kind of really dawned on me that our professional skills are actually really useful in the wild. That we don’t have to put on our therapist or our coach or our counselor hats to be able to influence people positively and that we have that these fantastic educations and experiences and mindsets and capacities that we’ve developed. And for me, at least, I was severely under using them with this idea that, well, I can’t change other people. It’s their own business. I’m not going to coach them. I’m just going to let them be because I don’t want to impose, or I don’t want to have a professional relationship.
And I found that working with Peter over the last couple of years on this book, I’ve just become much more generous. Like it’s yes, the title is You CAN Change Other People, but by change, I mean, help people become their best most authentic selves. That’s not something that I want to withhold from anyone, because I want to live in a world where everyone has that opportunity and everyone knows how to help everyone else have that opportunity. So I would say we have, you guys have great educations and pedigrees. Like flex them muscles.
[JOE] So good. Peter, what about you, if every private practitioner in the world were listening right now, what would you want him to know?
[PETER] I would sort of double down on what Howie said but not to cop out because ditto would just be too easy. I want to hold onto this word that Howie used, which I really love and have been thinking a lot about, which is generosity, which is being generous. The work that you’re doing is generous work. It’s work that is deeply in support of human beings and the human experience. And the thing I want to say is, and the challenge I want to offer you is can you also be generous with yourselves, meaning I know in this profession how easy it is to give all of ourselves to the people that we’re working with. So like what is the change that you want in your lives and what kind of support from other people do you want?
I know for me, and by the way, I’ll sort of come full circle with the sugar thing, which I’m still learning, which is I need like sugar to pick me up. I need more rest in my life. I need more recovery in my life. I think maybe that’s just me, but I’m betting there’s significant portion of private practice practitioners who are running their businesses, who are scrambling, fill schedules and who are spending their time and empathy and connection and support of others that there’s even data that says you’re probably not taking as good care of yourselves as you could; to be generous with yourselves the way you are with other people and to find the place to recover for yourself and to get the support that you need and the changes that you want to make in your lives.
[JOE] So, awesome. So the book is You CAN Change Other People. How can people get it? Tell us where they should find it.
[PETER] Well, hopefully they can get in any bookstore that they want, obviously Amazon and online book sellers, but also any independent bookstore that you like to buy from. You could find out more, obviously by looking at the book, but also at bregmanpartners.com, B-R-E-G-M-A-N P-A-R-T-N-E-R-S.com.
[JOE] Awesome. Those will all in the show notes. Oh yes, go ahead Howie.
[HOWIE] If people are enjoying Peter’s doit tones, he narrated the audio book.
[JOE] Awesome. So if want to hear more of Peter’s voice, you can get the audio book probably on Audible or wherever you listen to your audio books. Well, Peter and Howie, thank you so much for being on the Practice of the Practice podcast,
[PETER] Joe, thanks so much for having the podcast and inviting us on. It’s been a real pleasure.
[JOE] Well, go take some action. It is the end of the year. We are entering into 2022. It’s right around the corner in just a couple days. Go after those big things. Frequently I say don’t just consume, but take some action. It’s just like food. If you eat all the time, but never move your body, you’re probably not going to get the results that you want. I know that in early 2021, I was hanging out with Daina Mail staff in Southern California. She was talking with me about how she started doing a one-minute plank every day and she was talking about how it’s like a full body workout. It’s just one minute a day, the one thing and she could commit to. So I started doing that and I now am up, I think I just hit 440 the other day.
So whatever it is, that small step towards being a better you, a better community, take those steps as we move forward. I love the idea of not just saying, oh, I failed. I’m going to stop. Don’t let those New Year’s resolutions get to you. Just say, what is that step forward for myself that I can take? Whether that’s a one-minute plank, reading a little bit more, meditating, whatever that thing is, would love for you to share that with us on social media, or Practice of the Practice, wherever you look.
Also, this episode is sponsored by Pillars of Practice. That is our free e-course that you can get over at pillarsofpractice.com. If you’re just getting started, or if you’re growing an established practice, we have tons of resources there. We’ve taken all of our opt-ins that you used to have to opt in individually to and put it there. So there’s tons of checklists, tons of different free things that you can get. So head on over to pillarsofpractice.com. Thank you so much for letting me into your ears and into your brain. Have an amazing day.
Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music. We really like it. This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.