Understanding Immunity to Change


Where did this idea come from?


  • The Immunity to Change theory comes out of the research of Robert (Bob) Kegan and Lisa Lahey, professors at Harvard University, who discovered through years of research why we have such a difficult time with change.  Just as our bodies have a physical immune system that protects us from the bad stuff in the world, we also have a psychological immune system that works to protect us from harm!


How can this idea help me?


  • Our psychological immune system holds us back from making positive changes in our lives. Kegan and Lahey found that when heart patients are told they must take their medication or they will die, only one in seven patients followed through! It was their psychological immune systems that prevented them from making positive change. If they took their heart meds, they were admitting to becoming old and perhaps weak! Their psychological immune system prevented them from admitting they were getting old! If they could "overcome" that immunity, they would actually become healthier by taking their meds.


How does this idea show up in my life?


  • It feels like you have one foot on the gas, trying to move forward to reach a positive goal in your personal or professional life, but at the same time, you other foot is on the brake, keeping you from moving forward. For example, let's say you are a workaholic who is trying to find more balance in life. You want to be able to delegate some of your work responsibilities so you can make it home in time for dinner, but yet you know you can do those tasks better than the person you are delegating to! So you feel conflicted being committed to doing your best at work while wanting to come home earlier each day. Competing commitments--have you ever had those in your life? That's what it feels like to have an "immunity to change."


What can I do about my immunity?


  • Through our coaching model, you identify the One Big Thing that you want to change for the better in your life. (the foot on the gas—moving forward). Then we help you identify your behaviors, beliefs and assumptions (the foot on the brake) that are holding your back from making that change. Overtime, we coach you in releasing those behaviors, beliefs, and assumptions that are preventing your from realizing your One Big Thing!


What kind of changes can I work on?

  • Personal—such as developing a healthier lifestyle
  • Professional—developing your leadership style
  • Many other types of changes--what do you need to work on?


Here is a great presentation by Bob Kegan on his theory! Enjoy!

 Bob Kegan on Immunity to Change