The Secret of Change

The Secret of Change

When I was a therapist in private practice, specializing in short-term therapy for behavioral change, I wasn’t always successful in my attempts to help people whose doctors wanted them to stop smoking, whose spouses wanted them to lose weight, or whose managers wanted them to increase productivity.

But I became instantly and dramatically more effective when I learned the "secret of change." After that, I could tell if someone was destined to fail based on preliminary conversations to discuss the problem. Those conversations would go something like this:

Client: My doctor wants me to quit smoking.

Me: Okay. Have your doctor call me for an appointment, and you call back when there's something you want to do.

Client: My husband hates it when I get fat.

Me: Now I know his concern. What's yours?

Client: My sales manager would really like me to meet my monthly quota.

Me: No doubt. What would you really like?

It was a simple and obvious insight: people rarely changed because their doctor, their spouse, or boss wanted them to.

I'm not saying there was anything wrong with trying to change for someone else, I'm only reporting that it didn't work. The motivation wasn't strong enough – it wasn't selfish enough! And when I helped those same individuals identify or develop an overwhelming personal desire for change, the result was almost always a resounding success.

Everything I learned as a therapist has helped me in my work with organizational transformation, but nothing has been quite as powerful as "the secret of change."

That’s why communicating the WSIC – Why Should I Care? – is so important. It’s why a change strategy needs to include small wins and rewards along the way. It’s why the real-life stories of those who have succeeded at change are so powerful. And it’s why involving employees in creating change is the ultimate transformation strategy.

Share this article

Leave your comments

Post comment as a guest

terms and condition.
  • Ricky Marriott

    I'm trying to stay motivated to keep reading this.

  • Ben Christie

    We all can do it.

  • Aaron Wright

    As long as you waste 40 hours a week for a boss there will be little change. You need 40 hours of investment in yourself. That's when change happens.

  • Calvin Elston

    I quit smoking because of the idea that i was wasting my time and not my health.

  • Fox Gavura

    Positive thoughts create positive actions so thank you for highlighting that crucial fact.

  • Danny Ramsdale

    If you lack the motivation to change your behavior, then motivating yourself would, itself, be a change of behavior.

  • Jack Dunn

    Notice and appreciate what you want more of - in yourself and others. It will grow. Ignore what you can of what you'd like to extinguish, it will diminish.

Share this article

Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D.

Leadership Expert

Carol is an international keynote speaker at conferences, business organizations, government agencies, and universities. She addresses a variety of leadership issues, but specializes in helping leaders build their impact and influence skills for fostering collaboration, building trust, and projecting that illusive quality called "leadership presence." She is the author of "STAND OUT: How to Build Your Leadership Presence." and the creator of LinkedIn Learning's video course, "Body Language for Leaders." Carol completed her doctorate in the United States. She can be reached at

Cookies user prefences
We use cookies to ensure you to get the best experience on our website. If you decline the use of cookies, this website may not function as expected.
Accept all
Decline all
Read more
Tools used to analyze the data to measure the effectiveness of a website and to understand how it works.
Google Analytics