The Secret Change Formula

change growth Dec 14, 2020

The Secret Formula

What do you believe about success? Is it an art? Are some people just born to be successful and others are not?

Now I can hear my friend Henry saying,

“That depends how you define success.”

Perhaps he would be right, but for the sake of today’s message, I will ask you to put your own definition on what success would mean to you in this present moment.

However, I would like to suggest that success requires a change of some kind. Change is about letting go of the known and stepping into the unknown. It appears to involve the possibility of failure; and if so it means somehow releasing control. The kind of change/success I am talking about is radical/transformational; and it can be approach scientifically.

At least that’s the conclusion that Richard Beckhard, organizational theorist (1918-1999) believe when he and David Gleicher put forth the original formula for change in the 1960’s which was then refined in the 1980’s by Kathleen Dannemiller, organizational consultant. Here is the secret formula.

VxD + FS˃R = C

The C, as you have probably guessed, = Change.

R = Resistance
Resistance to change is rooted in fear.

“If I/we change who I am/we are, I am afraid of what will happen (the unknown)”
“If I stop being and doing what I am there is a risk”

Sound familiar. Oh! The stories I could tell you about resistance to change. But I digress. Let’s get back to the formula.

V = Vision – a picture of a preferable future
In the equation, vision must be real, heart-felt, deeply desired, and inspirational.

How big is your vision?

How motivational is your dream?

What is it that you want, really want that you cannot attain by playing the same game?

What is the picture of your future that is so compelling that it motivates you to overcome your resistance to change – to let go of control and step into the unknown?

The answer to these questions is fundamental to motivate you to take all the risks associated with change. But there are other elements involved.

D = Dissatisfaction
Most people don’t change because of vision alone. They change because of pain. There is a dissatisfaction with the status quo. The burning platform isn’t working. However, we have incredible capacity to mask our pain and distract ourselves from it. Entertainment, social media, alcohol, drugs, sex, endless shiny objects that momentarily grab out attention and anesthetize us from ownership of our pain and doing the subsequent activity that moves us to a new place.

Not only that, we can also have entire co-dependent relationships built around a collective collusion with one unwritten code: “I won’t ask you to face your dissatisfaction if you don’t ask me to face mine.”

When you are ready to live more consciously, ask yourself, what is your iceberg?

How am I denying my pain and dissatisfaction?

What conversations am I avoiding with other people and with myself so I can maintain the status quo?

Remember this saying,

“Life first whispers to us in a still small voice. If we don’t listen, it speaks to us firmly and if we avoid these words, it screams at us, often in the form of a crisis or suffering. Life tickles us first, pushes us second, and then hits us over the head with a brick.”

The final piece of the Change Formula is FS.
FS = First Steps

Vision and Dissatisfaction gives us the “Why”. First Steps gives us the “How”.

What was it that Neitzsche said?

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”

When you put V and D together, you are in the arena of your volition, your willingness to press on when resistance rears its head. Willingness to change is not wanting to change. Many people want to change, but most are unwilling. They just want to say they tried.

“Trying is wanting credit for what you never intend to do.” 

Vision x Dissatisfaction + First Steps ˃ Resistance = Change

Keep pressing into change and your breakthrough will come. Remember, Friend, you are loved and never alone on your journey.



Rick Burris


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