Change Anything QA

Bobby Robbins: Lost 12 of 50 pounds…and counting

Bobby Robbins

Change Challenge Winner Bobby Robbins shares the process of creating his change plan and his initial success.

Change Anything

I am pleased to announce that I am down 12 pounds since I submitted my YouTube video. This actually came as quite a shock. I have yet to implement a workout schedule and I have failed to update my change plan with feedback from my support team on That being said, my nutritional choices have been noticeably healthier and more intentional.

In these early stages, I have received really encouraging feedback from the other VitalSmarts Changers like Terri Moore and Steven Stout. Joseph Grenny’s advice and continued support has set the stage for me to sustainably change my life. From the outset, Joseph made our conversations safe—allowing me to identify important facets of my story that impact my plan. Instead of feeling embarrassed or ashamed, we talked openly about sensitive issues like depression and fear of failure. As a result, Joseph made better informed suggestions and directed me to additional resources that can increase the likelihood of success. My colleagues from The RAD Group, Philip Ragain and Michael Allen, have also given excellent advice. In terms of identifying my Crucial Moments and Vital Behaviors, I feel like my first effort was pretty accurate and will serve me well after a few refinements.

Original Crucial Moments
1) The hunger moment—the moment when I choose to not care about the promise I made to myself to plan meals and eat according to that plan.
2) The tired moment—the moment in the early morning when I choose to ignore my alarm and sleep in instead of going to the gym.
3) The quitting moment—the moment when I decide to quit either temporarily or completely during an exercise.

Original Vital Behaviors
1) Plan my meals 2 weeks in advance and use the plan for shopping and calorie counting.
2) Every night, prepare the next day’s meals and snacks.
3) Call my accountabi¬lity network when I am tempted to eat outside of my nutrition plan.
4) Wake up at 5:30am every morning and drive to 24 Hour Fitness.
5) Take only planned breaks during a workout.

Based on Philip Ragain’s advice, I am going to eliminate Crucial Moment #2. Because mornings are already a lifelong nemesis and there is no reason to schedule my exercise time (already an historically undesired activity) during another undesired activity (waking up early). I think a more appropriate Crucial Moment is the moment when a friend or my “inner good-idea-fairy” suggests I add another project or commitment to my already overwhelming schedule.

With this refinement, I am going to eliminate Vital Behavior #4 and replace it with two others:
1) Don’t schedule personal and business commitments that conflict with my lunch-time workout.
2) Respond to new time/resource commitment requests only after having consulted with a member of my support team.

The greatest insight I have gleaned during this process is that my schedule is out of control. Over time and with the best intentions, I have made commitments to my church, to the Boy Scouts, to friends, family, colleagues and the like. Deep down, I am warmed by the reward that comes from serving others. However, I can’t make even the smallest commitment to my own health with so many potential warm feelings taking up my entire day.

Now, I need to revise my action items. An action item that makes sense is worthless if you lack the time to actually take action. Some of the items will stay, but reality requires I tone down the overall aggressive posture of the plan. My immediate focus will shift toward realigning my calendar to facilitate nutrition planning, a personal workout time during lunch, and a family activity on Saturdays. I am not yet prepared to cancel my existing appointments, but I am committed to restraining my future schedule to align with my health priorities.

I’d like to thank my friends, family, and members of the VitalSmarts Community who have supported me on this journey. I know your continued support will lead to better results than what I could have achieved on my own.

Change Anything QA

Eris Weaver: From fearing the phone to closing deals

Eris Weaver.

Change Challenger Eris Weaver shares her change plan and initial success using the Change Anything model.

Change Anything

I’ve had great success with my change plan so far—even though the behavior I’m addressing is fairly entrenched. While I know a lot about behavior change, I have never applied this knowledge systematically to this particular problem. Sitting down and spelling (and drawing – see below) it out and posting it in my office has not only been fun, it is already working!

The behavior I am trying to change is my telephone phobia. My reluctance to make phone calls inhibits my ability to grow my business and maintain my personal relationships. What is particularly embarrassing is that I am a great communicator in every other medium—I am a teacher, public speaker, writer, etc.—but for some reason, I just can’t get myself to pick up the phone!

My default future: If I don’t get over this, I won’t generate enough new clients and my business will fail. This will lead to one of three possible negative scenarios: I continue to work my butt off but make no money; I have to get a normal job, spend hours in an office, commute, and lose the flexibility of being self-employed; or, I will just be broke, my wife will resent that I’m not bringing in any income, etc.

My goals: make ten targeted phone calls per week; answer the phone when it rings; and call my family members weekly.

I have two crucial moments:
1) When the phone rings: The moment when I either view the call as a burden or as an opportunity.
2) When I sit down to make calls. The moment I set aside to make calls and find myself easily distracted.

Some of the tactics I’ve implemented so far include:

Source 1: Love what you hate—Instead of viewing incoming calls as a distraction or burden like I used to do, I try to tell myself, “It could be somebody really cool with an exciting job for me!” I even recorded a new ring tone that replaces the typical ring with a knock on the door and my own voice saying, “Opportunity’s knocking!” It REALLY helps. Last Wednesday I answered a call using these thoughts and it turned into a paid gig!

Source 2: Do what you can’t
—To address my skills around sales calls, I will read books and attend sales seminars, as well as develop a basic script to which I can refer while making calls.

Source 3 & 4: Seek support from others—I organized an accountability group, and I report my successes and failures to them each week. They also regularly ask me how I’m doing and offer suggestions for success.

Source 5: Inverting the economy—I’ve created a points system to reward myself for each call I make, with higher points for calling folks I don’t know. I am ridiculously responsive to gold stars so this is fun. I’ve also decided that every week I have not made all ten calls, I will send $20 to an organization that really ticks me off.

Source 6: Control your space—In the crucial moment when I sit down to make calls, I realized I’m easily distracted by my computer and e-mail inbox. So, my plan is to take my phone list into another room and completely AWAY from the distractions.

This week I have made all ten calls! It cracks me up every time my phone rings and I hear the knocking, so I am in a good mood and my voice is smiling when I answer.

I am so pleased that this small amount of effort (creating this plan) is already having such great results. I’ve used all these tools before in various ways (losing weight, teaching, smoking cessation) but I have not sat down and created a plan so systematically. Change Anything is very user-friendly and I will be passing the book around (actually my wife has already stolen it!).

More about Eris here:

Crucial Accountability QA

Enforcing Neighborhood Rules

Joseph Grenny

Joseph Grenny is coauthor of three bestselling books, Influencer, Crucial Conversations, and Crucial Confrontations. His fourth book, Change Anything, will be available April 2011.


Crucial ConfrontationsQDear Crucial Skills,

I live in a very nice, quiet, upscale suburban neighborhood. A new family recently moved into one of the homes and is doing some things that distract from the value of the neighborhood. We have covenants that restrict what is permitted, but enforcing them could be difficult and possibly costly. How can I approach my neighbors personally and express my concerns without making an enemy out of them?

Not in My Backyard

A  Dear Backyard,

This will be the shortest answer I’ve ever written. Not because the issue isn’t crucial, but because your options are limited. I say this because I feel your pain!

With that said, here’s how I would approach this situation.

Talk to the right person. If you have a Home Owner’s Association, the association should inform your neighbor of the rules and the penalties for breaking these rules. They should then hold your neighbor accountable. If they aren’t doing this, your conversation should be with the association.

Do your research. You mentioned that your community has covenants, but you need to be sure the covenants are in force. Just because they are in the original neighborhood documents doesn’t mean they’ve been enforced over time. And if they have not been enforced, they may have no legal validity today.

Build the relationship first. If possible, you should build a relationship with your neighbor before you confront him or her about his or her distracting behavior. If your first conversation with the neighbor is about his or her transgression, it will be harder to create safety. To the degree you can help your neighbor unpack boxes, mow his or her lawn, or provide any other kind of assistance, he or she will be less likely to hear your concerns as attacks and characterize you as an enemy and more likely to actually change his or her behavior.

Be direct and polite. If there is no enforcement body and it’s up to you to speak up, then do so. But work on your story first. See them as reasonable people with different habits and perhaps no understanding of your covenants. Do whatever it takes to feel respectful and caring toward them before opening your mouth. Be friendly and polite, but don’t water down your message. If your bottom line is that this is a rule and they have to follow it, say that. For example, “Hey Pat, there’s a goofy thing in our covenants that you may not know about. Trust me, this isn’t a persnickety neighborhood and we’re glad you’re here, but I thought I should let you know before you get too settled so you’ll know how to address it . . .”

Finally, you should decide if this is important enough to you to deal with legally should they refuse to comply—or whether after your attempt at a crucial conversation you prefer to let it slide.

Good luck with your conversation. I’d tell you about mine but I worry about 140,000 of my closest friends finding out!