Overcoming the Reason People Resist Change

Talking about change is easy, acceptable, even exciting. But, execution always clashes with talk. Change becomes real when we have to change our attitudes and behaviors, not until.

dreaming of a bright future

The wrong picture:

Change movements don’t begin with painting pictures of a castle on the hill – dreams of the future.

People won’t dream of bright futures
until it feels dark all around.

The right picture:

Doom and gloom in the valley always comes before gleaming castles on the hill.

Change movements begin with dissatisfaction in the present. Create want. People won’t change until they want change.

Change begins with those who accept
that the present is unacceptable.

Paint pictures of organizations who failed doing the things you’re doing. Demonstrate the current path is mediocrity at best and death at the worst.


  1. All doom and gloom inspires defeat not dreams.
  2. Insulting the present insults those who are invested in the present.
  3. Making it hurt, hurts. All change hurts because something always goes away.


  1. Where possible, celebrate and build on the past and present.
  2. Help people see where they fit in.
  3. Provide large doses of comfort and encouragement with honor, recognition, and gratitude.
  4. Realize all change happens from the bottom up and the top down. Neglect one and you’re doomed.

People won’t go to a place
where they don’t have a place

Martin Luther King’s dream was a top-down and a bottom-up movement. Its real power was it touched and empowered people at the bottom.

Favorite change quotes:

“A year from now you will wish you had started today.” -Karen Lamb

“In a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to
changing vessels is more productive
than energy devoted to patching leaks.”
Warren Buffett

“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”—General Eric Shinseki

How can leaders paint dark pictures without defeating the troops?