Try Our Brief Self-Inventory

To get started…


Name a personal self-improvement goal that is very important for you

The goal should not be something technical that you could accomplish if you just had more time, or read the right book or attended a workshop. Rather, it should clearly involve your own growth as a person, a way you feel you could be a “better” you. Maybe you don’t say “no” enough; or you don’t tell people when you disagree on important matters; or you give yourself a hard time too often; or maybe you wish you could delegate more frequently; or you long for sharing your real feelings and thoughts with more people; or you wish you could take things less personally. Now turn that into a specific goal (e.g., “I want to say ‘no’ more often” often”; “I want to be a better delegator”) and enter your goal into column #1 of the printout.

Once you have written your self-improvement goal, take a moment to think about why it would be important to you if you were able to make big gains on that goal. Then jot those reasons underneath your goal. (e.g., “Saying ‘no’ would mean I could do more of what’s on my own list. I always come last!” or “I’d be much less stressed if I delegated more”).


Acknowledge you’re part in the problem

List all that you do and don’t do that undermines your progress on your goal. Be as honest and precise as possible (not it beat up on yourself, but because these behaviors will help you to see your immunity to change in the next step). Example: My goal is to be more straight-forward in telling people what I really think. What do I do that works against that? I sugar coat my words; I withhold what I really think; I say something once and if the person doesn’t respond, I let it go. Enter your answer into column #2 of the printout.


Discover Your Competing Commitments

3a. Fill in your Worry Box: Ask yourself, “What fears come up when I imagine doing the opposite of all that I wrote in column 2, when I imagine doing the opposite of these things that undermines my progress?” Example continued: When I imagine saying things directly and follow-up on that (the opposite of all that I said in column 2), I worry that I’ll say the wrong thing, and that people will think I don’t know what I’m talking about, that I’m uninformed, maybe even dumb. (Different people will have different fears, e.g., another person might worry that he will make people uncomfortable, and they won’t like that or him, and someone else could worry that people will, in turn, be more frank with her, and she’s not sure she wants to hear that.)  Enter your answer into the small box labeled ‘worry box’ in column #3 of the printout.

3b. See the ‘brakes’ you apply to your own goal: The Competing Commitments.  It’s understandable that you have these worries, but we want to invite you to consider something that may seem odd at first. Consider that you are not only “worrying” (a relatively passive activity) about these things, but that you are actively committed (not necessarily consciously) to making sure the things you worry about never occur. This is the heart of a third-column commitment. You do not merely passively “have a fear”; you actively behave in ways that very effectively, even brilliantly, protect you from having your fear come true. In the space below the Worry Box, re-state each  fear you named into a statement that expresses an active “commitment” to keeping your fear from happening. Example continued: “I worry I’ll say the wrong thing, and that people will think I’m dumb” becomes this: “I am committed to never saying the wrong thing. To never be seen as dumb.” (Here’s another example of turning a fear into a “commitment”:  “I worry that my being more straight-forward will lead people to be too critical in return” becomes this: “I am committed to people withholding the negative feedback they have for me.”)

Enter each re-stated worry into column #3 under the “worry box”.

The Immunity to Change revealed

Now look across these three columns as a whole. Do you see a kind of system, or dynamic equilibrium at work? Do you see yourself with one foot on the gas (your urgent column 1 goal) and one foot on the brake (your 3rd column, competing commitments)? This is the immunity to change. You should see exactly now why you are not making the progress you want, and it is not because of the reasons you have probably thought. It is not because you are a weakling, or lack discipline, or are an ‘old dog’ who can’t learn ‘new tricks,’ or any of the host of depreciative things you have thought about yourself, Rather, there is a part of you that wants to accomplish an important goal  and another part of you that is expending just as much energy working against that goal—but for a very good reason: You are (understandably) trying to take good care of yourself, to protect yourself from what feels like disaster—just the work of any “immune system.”

If the picture before you feels powerful, intriguing, or even just interesting you have taken an important first step to overturning your immunity to change.

Where might you go from here?

There are many possibilities:

  • Some people find the diagnostic alone—a picture of yourself moving in opposite directions at once—a sufficiently motivating platform for change.
  • Enroll in our 15-week, free online, open course at where Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey, the founders of Minds at Work and the creators of this method, will personally lead you through your own coaching arc. The course is offered once a year.
  • You can also find a host of suggestions and supports for overturning your immunity to change in our books.
  • Consider coming to our three-day ITC Facilitator’s Workshop on overcoming your own immunities and conducting the Immunity-to-Change process (as featured in O Magazine).

We invite you, as well, to inquire about participating in an Immunity-to-change coaching cycle, either via a small group format ITC Pods or an individual, one-to-one coaching arrangement.