So this is the first official post with the newly branded blog Make Shift Happen (formerly known as Being Primal) and as such, I thought I would kick it off with a bang. And here is my BANG! I want to reinvent the blog experience.
Specifically, I want this blog to have a purpose. Truthfully, with Being Primal, each week I was trying to write something that would help bring relief or create change for those who followed along. But aside from that there was no clear directive or expectation for my subscribers.
I do not plan to make the same mistake with Make Shift Happen. I want to create a purpose driven blog that not only invites people (you) to read, but “nudges” them (you) to transform.
And in order for that to happen I need to clearly outline how I believe change unfolds and help you identify where you sit on the continuum and how and why you need to aspire to be at the top of the change chain (to become an Influencer).
It will be my job to reinforce this ideaology with each and every blog post I produce to help you move through the continuum and attain remarkable transformation.
I have to admit I am FREAKING excited about this. I have spent that last month really thinking this through and I am ready to embark on something that I believe is like nothing else on the web.
A new model for change…
What I have discovered on my journey is that I have been caught up in doing STUFF. LOTS OF STUFF. I had long thought that if I did enough stuff something miraculous would eventually happen. Twenty five years of doing stuff with limited success made me realize that I had no freaking clue what I was doing. If I wanted to change then I needed to have a better understanding of how change actually occurred.
What I have put together below (see the diagram) is a result of 18 months of research conducted on myself, but also adapted from the countless interviews I have conducted with people who have made sustainable change happen.
I call it THE HIERARCHY OF CHANGE. Each level has it’s own distinct characteristics; a different level of commitment, selflessness and a vocabulary that reflects each individual stage.
So lets take a closer look at each stage.
Level 1-The quick fixer…
Everyone who is looking to change something starts in this phase. It is our human nature to gravitate to the easiest possible solution. It’s what I call the “Lottery Mentality.” We want all the reward without actually having to change anything about who we are.
Unfortunately, some spend their whole life in this phase and never realize it.
There are some universal characteristics of the quick fixer.
- they focus solely on outcomes rather than behavior change
- they want all the benefits without having to make any sacrifices to who they currently are being
- speed is the key; it has to happen FAST
- they quickly dismiss anything that requires work or some level of commitment
It is one of the reasons that liposuction and gastric bypass surgery are so popular. It meets all the requirements of the quick fixer.
Case Study: Carnie Wilson
Wilson is a few years younger than me and was (is) a singer in the group Wilson-Philips. At one point she ballooned up to 300lbs and opted to have gastric bypass surgery. That was in 1999.
I first heard about her story when People Magazine ran a cover story on her a number of months after her surgery where she was down 150lbs. She looked fantastic, but I remember thinking at the time, “You can’t get in for free. Lets she where she is 5 years from now.”
And sure enough her weight ballooned back up again over the years to the point where “her doctor advised her to consider having another gastric band placed after she had regained two-thirds of her weight back and was in danger of developing diabetes.”
I feel bad for Carnie Wilson. Not because she is overweight, but because she thinks the answer to her problem is “out there.” And it seems every doctor she talks with confirms her false notion. Not a single one has set about empowering her to make long last sustainable change in her own life.
The truth is there are no quick fixes to any big problems we have. They all require a tremendous amount of work to fix, whether it be a broken marriage, broken finances or a broken body.
While it may sound like I am being highly critical of anyone in this phase, the truth is this is an important phase to be in. Because once you recognize that is how you operate you then understand that the quick fix approach has NEVER worked. And only when that realization has happened will you begin to appreciate the need for a better way to build a lean sustainable body.
Level 2-The Researcher
This is where things start to get exciting. When people move from the quick fixer mentality to the researcher phase, a considerable shift has occurred.
The biggest reason is because we have begun to ask more inquisitive-type questions.
- Why am I the way I am?
- Who has achieved results that I am hoping to achieve?
- Who has an expertise in my particular problem area?
- What assumptions am I making that are preventing me from solving this problem?
- Where did I put my goddamned keys! (or is that just me?)
When we begin to ask more purposeful-type questions, our natural tendency is to find related resources that answer them. We then begin to purchase books, subscribe to blogs and listen to podcasts, all with the purpose of finding those elusive answers that will unlock our destiny.
But there is a downside.
The danger lies in thinking researching equates to doing. IT DOES NOT! And that is the conundrum for many.
Their research is used to either rationalize current behaviors or to allow them to talk more intelligently about their struggles. Neither however are actionable behaviors that move one closer to solving their problem.
Level 3-The experimenter
Self-experimentation has entered the mainstream lexicon thanks to Tim Ferris author of The 4-hour work week and The 4-hour body. The cool kids now call it Bio-hacking. Other notables in the bio-hacking sphere are Dave Asprey of Bullet Proof Executive and Seth Roberts and Tara Grant of Primal Girl (the only female biohacker I know of).
This is a crucial phase because it adds the missing piece from the previous: THE DOING.
The major shift in this phase is ACTION and OWNERSHIP. People are now taking the discoveries they have made in their research and proposing their own questions and hypotheses to test.
And here is the big secret no one knows. Changing how you look boils down to how you manage data.
Yup you read that right. People resist doing anything that requires the managing of data because that means you have to write sh*t out. But how else are you going to know if what you are doing is working? You won’t.
And once people wrap their head around the MOST CRITICAL INSIGHT they will begin to make amazing things happen because they will now have cold hard facts at their finger tips.
My pal Lisa has the following chart on her wall. As you can see she didn’t get bogged down with perfection. She made a quick calendar on some chart paper that she then posted on her wall.
She was testing a number of ideas and was color-coding days according to how things went. By starting with something that was always visible and easy to maintain Lisa was doing what all great experimenters do: CAPTURING RELEVANT DATA.
First, collecting and interpreting our own data is a MAJOR shift. It’s a shift to a higher order of thinking. The great thing with something like this is it leads to insights and discoveries that never ever would have occurred if we’re blindly stumbling our way along as most of us tend to do.
Another very notable change occurs with the vocabulary we use. We move from third person pronouns like…
- They say eggs are bad for us
- Dr Oz says grains are an important part of a complete diet
where we simply regurgitate unproven claims by others, to first person accounts like…
- I have discovered that eating more quality fats keeps me from craving carbs
- I have learned that writing down my foods each day allows me to make better choices when chaos ensues.
That’s exciting stuff, but our journey most certainly doesn’t end there.
Level 4…The collaborator
I have stated in previous blog posts that we are groupists by nature. Our evolutionary biology is programmed to be around people, to interact with them, to share and solve problems with them.
The truth is many of our insights and discoveries really don’t start taking shape until we begin sharing them with others.
The Western hemisphere has a hard time wrapping their head around that idea mostly because of the myth perpetuated around the self-made man and/or woman. There is no such thing of course, but the idea that one person can rise from the ashes and prevail without the help of anyone has continued to drive our current behavior more than we realize.
Back in the 1970s a doctoral student at the University of Berkley California by the name of Uri Treisman conducted a study to understand why Chinese students performed so much better than black students (approximately 60% who were failing out) in Calculus.
Other science minds offered the typical unsubstantiated conclusions that most of us jump to…
- Lack of motivation to succeed.
- Lack of parental support.
- Low income.
- Weak preparation.
Turns out all of these assumptions were wrong.
Tresiman studied these two groups for 18 months and it turns out the Chinese students excelled because unlike their black counterparts, when they were done studying alone, they gathered in the evening to study with classmates.
This did a number of things.
- It gave each of them strategies and tips for solving problems they were struggling with.
- It gave them a sense of how they were doing in relation to their peers.
- It gave them an opportunity to ask questions.
- They were able to put elusive problems into perspective.
- They knew where they stood with their progress.
So what does this mean for you?
Collaboration of your ideas and discoveries with others does the following…
- You deepen your understanding of your own discoveries when you are forced to articulate them. Thinking about something and talking about it with others are VASTLY different. The latter requires a much deeper understanding of the problem.
- You discover and flesh out ideas that may only be partially developed.
- Others may contribute ideas that spin off into something even more powerful.
Case Study #2
One thing I do each month is talk to 5 to 7 people on Skype (for free) to see how they are doing and what they are struggling with. During these called they can ask me anything they want.
I know many feel this might be a waste of time for me, but I find it to be one of the smartest uses of my time. It helps me clarify ideas I have been playing with in my noggin or I get asked a question to something I have never thought about before or is about something I do intuitively not realizing that others may struggle with this particular aspect.
Either way I learn something that helps me teach better.
Becoming an effective collaborator is huge but it is not our final destination.
Level 5-The influencer
There is a false assumption out there that lose of weight is enough of a motivator to keep us going in the fight to remain lean.
That logic is SEVERELY FLAWED. You should be nodding your head with me on this because if you are reading this you have probably had a period in your life where you had lost weight and then over time the wheels fell off and you gained it all back and then some.
I believe I now know why that occurs.
True sustainability does not occur until we are committed to a cause greater than ourselves. In other words we put ourself in a position to share our theories and ideas with others to help create change.
Think about it. It is no coincidence that Mark Sisson has a blog or Robb Wolf has a blog or Sarah Fragoso (love that girl) has a blog. In fact, Sarah has mentioned on numerous occasions that having a blog holds her accountable to her audience. That’s precisely why I do what I do.
Being committed to a cause greater than yourself is crucial, but it doesn’t mean you need to go out and start a blog. There are many other ways that you can accomplish this.
- some are determined to spread the word by sending books like mine (click—>HERE) and others to friends to help nudge them forward.
- Dan French is a comedian who went paleo and lost 100lbs and now incorporates that into his one-man show.
- My pal Tara Chaput, who has undergone an amazing change herself, is going back to school to upgrade her nutritional qualifications so she can counsel others.
- Ashley Tudor wrote this really great book
- Roger Dickerman left his wall street lifestyle to start Relentless Fitness. Greg Carver left a really a great corporate gig and started Strength Box
- Abel James started a rockin podcast series
- Sean Croxton does a live radio show via the internet
- Sarah Fragoso wrote a children’s book about Paleo
- Erwan Le Corre developed his own program called MovNat
- Karina Stuke and Jen (momma bear) Sturm have started Eat Play Live with a focus on mothers
My point is to say that momentum wanes as time passes and if you are not committed to something bigger than yourself, the probability of slipping back is high.
Tools and Tasks…
I shared this with you for two reasons. Change is hard if we don’t have a model to help us understand our progression and what we are shooting for.
This also serves as my guide so that each and every week I am writing something that helps you progress through the hierarchy.
*Please note: there is no audio, podcast or video for this post at this time.
1. Print off this document (PDF above) and be sure to make your own notes and jot down your own ideas that come to mind as you begin to flesh this idea out within the context of your philosophy.
Consider this a book. Each week I am releasing a new chapter. As such, you should have a binder where you can store these printouts and your notes and subsequent ideas.
2. I’m thinking of doing a podcast around this post in the future so I would be interested to know…
- Where you see yourself on the hierarchy?
- Do you have an interesting anecdote to share for any of the levels?
- What question would you like me to answer based on the hierarchy?
Let’s make some shift happen shall we,