Getting to Yes, And

"Master of Change”


Brad Stulberg

Subscribe on

Kelly welcomes Brad Stulberg back to the podcast, the well-being expert is on the faculty of the University of Michigan and his new book is called “Master of Change: How to Excel When Everything is Changing – Including You.”

You write in the book that, as a species, we’ve always been prone to things like war, disease and famine; and you call for normalizing disorder events, right?

“That's right. We don't have to like them, and often, we don't. But we need to expect that they are going to occur. And when they do occur, we need to try to minimize our denial or resistance or freaking out so that we can see clearly what's happening, and give ourselves a chance to participate in shaping hopefully what is a thoughtful and discerning response.”

I thought it was amazing that you have an average number that you can put on how many significant changes a person will go through in their life.

"36 is the average number of changes that Bruce Feiler and his colleagues found the average adult experiences. And these are not small changes. These are what he calls lifequakes, or what I call disorder events. These are things that like really shift your understanding of the world and how you operate in it. Some examples could be retirement, could be starting a job, could be a promotion or a new role. All the family changes. Marriage divorce, having kids, kids leaving the house, meeting a new, best friend, distancing from a friend. When you lay them out suddenly, that 36 number does seem pretty believable, because we're always going through some sort of transition or change.”

There’s a lovely metaphor that you talk about in the book and that’s how we need to understand the difference between a road and a path.

“So, a road is linear. Its goal is to get you from here to there as fast as possible. When you are on a road, anytime you get off the road is seen as a bad thing.  Even if you're making a road trip, you want to get where you're going. You often have a map, or in today's day and age, GPS, that's telling you the fastest way to get where you're going. And often you're not really even looking at what's happening. You're just kind of dialed in on the map and on the line in front of you or the car in front of you. Roads are very efficient. They plow through the landscape, and they just take you from here to there. A path, on the other hand, is meandering. A path is not separate from its landscape, but it works in concert with its landscape. There's no getting thrown off a path. You just bushwhack your way towards where you're going, and when you're on a path you can't help but pay attention to your surroundings. You cannot just zone out when you're on a path, and what happens is, you often see this beautiful life on the side of the path, and you often see other routes that open up, that you never even thought could have.”

Related Episodes