The Power of Positive Change

Based on the book “Build for Tomorrow” by Jason Feifer
(Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur)

 We all know the saying: “To say goodbye is to die a little!” Just when life seems to be rolling, something happens, and then there we are – with zilch – right back where we started. Life somehow tells us: nothing can or should be permanent. And deep in our hearts, we fully understand that change is inevitable for our growth, but despite our beliefs, we fear it; change is scary.

Moments of change, hard as they may be, are the things that force us to shift our planned journey. For better or worse, who knows? 

change for better or for worse

 The book I will share with you today is about acceptance, preparation for change and a little about fighting. Get ready! The first half of the book reminded me of the words of Lao Tzu, “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” The second half is more like an action plan, with the clear message, “The only way that we can live is if we change.”

 Six insights 

  1. Four phases of change – PANIC, ADAPTATION, NEW NORMAL, WOULDN’T GO BACK

 We, humans, are a bunch of nonsense, but we are still predictable. The less we focus on loss, the clearer we can make decisions. Unfortunately, we believe if we lose X, then therefore we’ll lose Y. For example: if one thing changes at our job, we feel like everything will change in our lives, and then we fear we’ll become useless and unable to keep up with others.

Advice #1: Use yesterday for what it was, not for what it wasn’t. Let go of who you were to become who you are. Do you really want to be that person who is holding on to an old version of themselves forever?

In this book you can find a fascinating study about nostalgia – a sentimental longing for something from our past even if the past wasn’t very happy (you hated school, but you are remembering it with warm feelings now, right?). Our brains are programmed so, but you can liberate yourself from it and build a new narrative of your life. 

an old woman looks at the old pictures, nostalgia

  1. “Learned Helplessness”

Feeling helpless leads to no action. And it goes like this: Something is happening to me. We tell large and small versions of this story: my job has changed, my neighborhood has changed, my relationships have changed. In each case, something else that is outside our control has gained total power over the decisions we make and the world we live in.

It’s a harmful story! Because when you hear or tell this repeatedly – something is happening to me – you create what psychologists call “learned helplessness.”

You have more control than you think. Things do not just happen to us. There’s always something that we can control. We’ll experience change, but we can also be the instigator of change. We can be the thing that happens

dangerous neighbourhood, helpless man

  1. We are not what we do. We are why we do it.

Even as our jobs or lives change, and we may feel dislodged from the things we knew best, we still have innate skills, abilities, passions, and beliefs that define us. There’s a purpose or a mission at your very core. It is so foundational to your being (or business/life) that absolutely NOTHING can change it. And this is why you do the things you do… Then, depending on the recourses available to you, you can find different ways of achieving that “why.” And eventually, why becomes your what.

Advice #2. Exercise “Three layers.”

 The Surface 

Someone asks you “So, what do you do?” Write down your answer in a single sentence. Likely, you are going to talk about your tasks. This is how we tend to explain ourselves – we say what we do at work. For example:

  • I am a project manager at a toy company. I work with lots of different teams and get the product out on budget.
  • I am a newspaper reporter. I interview people and then write stories about what’s happening in the community.
  • I am a writer. I write poetry and short stories and then I self-publish them on Amazon.

 The Mantle 

Here’s the question again “So, what do you do?” This time you are not allowed to repeat anything that you said in the first round. Instead of talking about your job and tasks, think about your skills. These are the things that people don’t see, and maybe even don’t understand, but they rest underneath everything you listed out before.

  • I use my organizational skills to keep track of product development; I use my communication skills to deal with the needs of my team (a project manager)
  • I follow my curiosity to discover new things, engage people in conversation to learn information, then I quickly process that information and write an article for my readers (a newspaper reporter)

It is helpful to pause and identify what we’re good at.

 The Core 

One more time. Someone asks you, “So, what do you do?” Now you are not allowed to repeat anything that you said in the first two rounds. No tasks. No skills. Instead, ask yourself – what fuels you?

This isn’t an abstract question. This is the singular idea, belief, or goal that excites you and that led you to develop the skills you just described above, which enabled you to do the tasks you originally identified. Your answer is the thing that could excite you even if you didn’t have the job you have, or the job you wished you had. In fact, it could fuel twenty different industries and jobs. What is it? Write it in only ten words (or less).

  • I love helping people achieve things. I’m a logical thinker. I love solving complex puzzles (e.g., project manager)
  • I tell stories in my own voice (Jason Feifer)
  • I love to share new information: facts, content, books, stories (Ray)

Once you find your why, you’ll know what fuels you no matter what – this is your anchor.

 This is what it means to adapt to change.
It means knowing what changes and what does not. 

find your passion, find your why concept

  1. Widen your bands

What year was Gandhi born? Please, guess. Don’t google it! Okay, you don’t know. What’s the earliest you think he was born? And what’s the latest you think he was born?

Jason Feifer answered: between 1940 – 1955.

If you are like Jason, then your bands are too narrow. Because it’s not important that you know when Gandhi was born; what’s important is to know how confident you should be in the knowledge you think you have. Jason Feifer made an all-or-nothing bet, but instead, he should have thought, “I don’t know anything about Gandhi, only his quotes, so the earliest he was born is, probably, 1600 and the latest 1970.” That would be a better answer because it would have created a larger range that was much more likely to include Gandhi’s birth year. And why couldn’t Jason Feifer do it right? Because he’s overconfident, just like the rest of us. That is where the problem lies: if you are overconfident in what you think you know, you are going to be making decisions informed by probabilities that are NOT going to align with reality. And they compound. So, if you make a decision – well, I know this, I’ve been there – and then you make another decision based on that decision, you find yourself really far out on a statistical limb. So slow down and widen your bands (by the way, Gandhi was born in 1869).

Advice #3. An outside perspective on a problem can help because it is always easier to work with a copy/paste solution.

  1. The choice vs. noise

Our lives are full of noise, but we often don’t recognize it as noise. Instead, we think of it as choice. There’s nothing wrong with having options, but when people have too many choices, then the choices become the noise, and they have no way to filter through it. To help separate what’s important from what’s not, the author suggests making a pro/con list about any change you are considering. Set it aside. Wait a week (yes, you’ve read it right!). Do not look at your old list and make another one. Repeat a few times. At the end of the month, look at them all and see how many items on the list overlap. Did some of the pros show up regularly? Or did some of them cross over to a con? If half of the things that were on the first list are gone at the end, then you might consider those things to be noise. 

girl is choosing a boots, too many choices

  1. Work your next job

There are two sets of opportunities in your life:

Set A – your job responsibilities, all the work that’s expected from you.

Set B – this is all the stuff available to you, but that nobody’s asking you to do. Maybe you volunteer, or learn new skills, or join new teams: you take an extra class or create something new. Nobody in the world expects you to pursue these things, but they are available! 

work for tomorrow, build the future

Well, of course, every day your time is consumed by Set A. But if you focus for the rest of your life on Set A, you’ll only be qualified to do things that you are already doing. If you want to succeed in the long term, and ride the waves of change, then Set B is infinitely more important. It’s where your true passion and energy should be. So, your days should be devoted to check the boxes of Set A, and then pouring your life into Set B. This is what Jason Feifer means by “work your next job” – while you are at your current job, you are laying the foundation for your next one. 

The most important thing we do is build our future, one day at a time. But that can be scary. The Book Build for Tomorrow gives us the tools to prepare and attack the future we wish for with optimism and hope. 

 Good luck with that change! 

Build for tomorrow book

Next post – The Story of Harmless Bullet (Thursday, 29/9/2022) 


  1. Excellent, Ray. It is amazing how the noise in life tends to get lower in volume as one ages.

    1. Author

      Yep 👍 maybe because you see things more as they “are” & also paying attention to the stuff that is more important

    1. Author

      Yes, it’s an interesting book, but if you read my post … it’s probably enough 🙂 😉🤓

    2. Author

      I mean it’s a big book… too many words. I’d cut some paragraphs, and leave a booklet 30-50 pages 🙂

      1. I just told someone this about industry standards in terms of book length. A book doesn’t always need to be long to make a point.

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