The Challenge of Change: Four Roadblocks

As you explore the four roadblocks we face when attempting to change, ask yourself, “Which of these do I struggle with?” If you’re not sure, share this blog with a trusted partner and request a reality check. You might learn something—about you!

Four Roadblocks to Change

Roadblock #1: Deny 

Minding my own business in the Dubai Grand Hyatt, a knock on my door startled me. Through the peephole, I saw three serious-looking men. Opening the door, I was greeted by an English-speaking gent with a Middle Eastern accent:

“Good evening, Mr. Miller. Do you have a fire in your room?”

Huh, odd question. I was in Dubai to do a Personal Accountability and the QBQ! speaking engagement for Subway, not to start any fires!

“Um, nope, there are no fires happening here. Why do you ask?”

The head security guy said, “Several guests walking by your room reported smelling smoke. May we come in?”

It was then I knew what I’d done. After my a 3-mile walk in the Dubai desert, I’d <foolishly> laid my sweaty athletic socks across the top of a lamp to dry.

And forgot them.

I’d sat there for over an hour blogging, emailing, and—NOT SMELLING THE SMOKE IN MY OWN ROOM!

Like a fish not knowing he’s in water, I had no clue I was enveloped by SSS: Sweaty Sock Smoke!

Embarrassed, I removed the socks from the light and apologized. The men slowly—and graciously—backed away from the crazed American and left my room.

Denial: The inability to see what’s right in front of me. When I fail to see or smell the smoke—a metaphor for denying one’s need to change—there will be no change.

Roadblock #2: Defer 

In Raising Accountable Kids, we write that my mom hung a circular wooden plaque on the kitchen wall in the 1970s with these four letters etched on it: “TUIT.” She knew that humans have a propensity to say, “I’ll get round to it,” so she put a round “TUIT” on the wall to remind us how easy it is to put stuff off.

Maybe “getting round to it” is fine when it comes to fixing that old shed lock or picking up the dry cleaning, but it costs us dearly when it involves deferring change.

People who defer change use words like “someday” and “I’ll do that when” while sometimes concentrating too much on “goal-setting.” Yes, you read that right.

Sure, we need goals, but an intense focus on what I want in the future can cause me to defer action today. There are dreamers and there are doers—people who change are both. Don’t defer change, do something new today.

Roadblock #3: Defy

I can be very stubborn when I get input from people—especially unsolicited advice. My defensiveness (and ego) kicks in, leading me to defy their observations, opinions, and wisdom. Not to mention their authority over me, if they possess it.

You see, I am an extremely noncompliant person. A key reason I left my corporate desk job at 27-years-old is I didn’t like being told what to do.

For me to change, I must swallow my ego-driven pride, hear the other person, and nip any How dare you tell me I’m not perfect! reaction in the bud. When I overcome my defiance, I just might change. Otherwise, I’m stuck.

Roadblock #4: Dread

We hear that humans dread change, but what is it that we fear? For most of us, it’s not the uncertainty of the future but what we might lose through change. Income, relationships, and status are a few things we dread foregoing if we change.

Those who can and do change, however, identify what they dread losing and put it in perspective. By focusing on the benefits of changing and getting excited over what will be gained versus what they might give up, they courageously sell themselves on changing. Remember, courage is not lacking fearcourage is acting in spite of our fear.

Be courageous today!


So, our Four Roadblocks to Change are these: Deny. Defer. Defy. Dread.

Which is a problem for you and what will you do about it?

Comment here!


2 Responses

  1. I love the challenge of John’s questions always asked. He makes me stop and actually periodically stop, think and analyze myself, my thought, actions, accountability and roadblocks. I appreciate the humor that he uses about himself and how he has looked at himself in most instances. He’s honest, funny and always accountable with his actions and thoughts. i so appreciate that in him, in his writing and in his sharing with us. For this above question I had to really think about it, what is there about change the stops me? I have to say I’m really good at thinking I have to ‘wait for the perfect time’ to make a change. It’s not so much that I want to DEFER or put off, For some reason I always think there is going to be a better time for change. I’ve learned, that’s so not true and that there is never a better time than the present. So I’ve made a pack with myself that when I want to or need to make a change whether it’s personal, work, etc, to do it NOW and stop waiting for a better time. The other one that i think I challenge myself with is DREAD, especially if it has to do with something large, like a job change or something that involves others. I am careful in my pursuits of change because I look at how my making changes affects others, I forget to think about how a change might affect me. I let other’s needs control the changes that I make in my life. Still working on this one to be honest, but I’m trying to have the Courage to make changes that might be kind of hard. Thanks John for always making us think and reach!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *