“We don’t see things as they are: we see them as we are.” Anais Nin.

Our perspectives dominate us. Social learning theorists claim that much of what we know we learn from the social environment that surrounds us, much like water surrounding a fish. We don’t recognise it’s there and we often accept it unquestioningly. It becomes what Michael Polyani calls “tacit knowledge” – the knowledge you don’t even know you have.

Adult transformational learning theorists like to refer to our ‘habits of mind’ and our ‘points of view’.  These are not just things we have; they are filters that determine our sense of reality, what we can see, and what it means to us. Transformational learning only happens when these difficult-to-change things actually change. They only change when they are challenged – I mean really challenged.

There is a point of view I want to challenge. I talk to many people in the coaching business and I would like to challenge them about something important. Sure, they have been educated – some hold Master degrees in coaching, some are psychologists, some have training in NLP, or whatever. Great.

But let me ask this question: what does change readiness look like? How can you tell whether your clients are really ready for change? How do you know their level of change fitness?

Some people tell me they screen out the people who aren’t ready for change. Really? How can they tell who they are? What reliable and task-specific tools do they use?

I have researched more about change readiness than most people – much more. I know the paucity of understanding that exists of it out there in the academic and business literature. I spent 6 years doing my PhD on change readiness and I can tell you how poorly understood it is. If you think you understand change readiness, I challenge you to tell me what it is.

I want to challenge coaches to open up their minds to see something new. Why? Because the change readiness of your clients is something you should be concerned about. If you’re not concerned about that, you’re more interested in your teaching than you are in their learning. You’re not really focused on the change strengths and needs of your clients.

The information I have to share with you is not for everyone. It’s not for people who think they already have all the answers. It’s not for people who are satisfied with the status quo. It’s not for people who are frightened of innovation or of thinking outside the square. It is for people who are looking for new ways to achieve better outcomes – for their clients and their business.

If that’s you, we need to talk. Please send me an email and let me know you’re interested.


Steve Barlow PhD

Steve Barlow
Author: Steve Barlow

Steve heads up The Change Gym. He is a change readiness specialist. You can contact him at steve@thechangegym.com.