What Chocolate and Peanut Butter Have to Do with Leadership and Navigating Change

Chocolate and peanut butter by themselves are great. And yet, putting the two together is an entirely different experience (think Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups). You might think we have completely lost our minds, but bear with us for a moment…

Chocolate and peanut butter by themselves are great. And yet, putting the two together is an entirely different experience (think Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups). You might think we have completely lost our minds, but bear with us for a moment…

Chocolate = Courage-Building Work

We live and work in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world where disruption continues to be the name of the game. Disruption can bring growth and transformation. Yet, at the same time, it bumps us up against our own human biology. Because, as a species, we are hard-wired to seek familiarity and comfort. It is not surprising that 12+ years of research continue to show that the future demands braver leaders and courageous cultures; to be able to thrive in this VUCA-extreme world, we must find a way to reconcile the gap between what the world demands of us and our own DNA that has us wanting to self-protect.

Enter the incredible work of Brené Brown. When Rosie was able to train with her in 2019 to become part of her Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator community, to say she was excited is a massive understatement. With each delivery of the Dare to Lead program, we have seen how transformative the curriculum is in building courage skills so people can show up as braver leaders and create courageous cultures. We are continuously humbled when we see the impact it has on people. 

To show up as our best, fully authentic selves and be able to navigate change and disruption, we have to be willing to step into the arena bravely rather than armored (i.e., in self-protective mode). The Dare to Lead work is also a cornerstone to having inclusive, human workplaces where people feel like they belong.

Make no mistake. By itself, Dare to Lead is powerful.

And this is what we have noticed…

For many people, no matter how inspired they are or courageous the skills they build—there lies something deeper at play that prevents them from stepping into the arena – that tells them it is not safe to be vulnerable and lean into this work. And most of the time, they fail to realize that they have these deeply rooted, unconscious competing motivations that prevent them from being courageous and making progress on goals that are important to them.

Peanut Butter = Immunity to Change Work

Whether we realize it or not, our behaviors are driven primarily by our brain’s unconscious programming we formed in the first few years of our life. We downloaded programs we needed to survive by observing people around us; we learned what was acceptable and what wasn’t, when to speak up, when to be quiet, and what was right and wrong. These programs make up our meaning-making system that becomes our filter for how we see the world and what we perceive as safe—which unconsciously guides our behaviors. The problem is that much of the programming we absorbed is flawed. Studies have shown that 70% of the programs we download from others are negative, disempowering, and self-sabotaging.

For example, maybe you were yelled at for messing up or not following the rules. So now you are driven by an unconscious need to be perfect and avoid failing. Or maybe you were laughed at or rejected, and now you avoid putting yourself out in situations where that might happen again. Or perhaps you feel the need to be different from who you are to be accepted, respected, or mattered. Unconsciously, behind the scenes, this programming is working against us today – and we don’t even realize it most of the time.

Enter the incredible work of Bob Kegan and Lisa Lahey. They have found that we all have a psychological immune system that forms in our early, formative years out of an innate need to protect ourselves. Much like our physical immune system works behind the scenes to protect us from disease and infection, our psychological immune system works unconsciously to protect us from perceived threats.

You see, our brains don’t know the difference between an actual physical threat and a perceived social threat where someone might think poorly of us, judge us or reject us. So we spend too much unconscious energy hiding our inadequacies, pretending to be something we are not, and overcompensating for feelings and fears of being less than others. They call this our Immunity to Change (ITC). 

When we added this to our coaching services, it was a game-changer! We have now helped thousands of clients finally get out of their own way after decades of being stuck (and not even realizing why). And we have come to appreciate our shared humanity and how we all have these underlying hidden assumptions that get in our way. Until we become conscious of them and then do the work to rewrite new programming, our 10-year-old self will continue to hijack us – despite being motivated or having the best intentions.

Peanut Butter Cups = The Glorious Combination of Courage-Building and Immunity to Change Work 

For several years we have been combining Dare to Lead work with Immunity to Change (ITC) coaching – for individuals and entire teams. Separately they make a profound difference. When combined, they are almost magical. So, we were geeky excited when Lisa Lahey was a guest on the Dare to Lead podcast and walked Brené through identifying her own immunity to change around a goal. (if you have not listened yet—check out Part 1 and Part 2).

Here you have Brené Brown – the mastermind behind courage-building work becoming conscious of where, how, and why she gets in her own way of making progress on goals that are important to her. At one point, she said, “I am perpetuating the exact behavior that is depleting me.” Ahh, welcome to being human!

It reminds us why we think one may be incomplete without the other. You see, we may be willing to step into the arena and be vulnerable in some areas but are unable to in others. And, until we address the underlying hidden commitments and assumptions that keep us immune to change, we can only get so far. At the same time, we can do work to overcome our psychological immunity yet still not have the skills to show up courageously as we rewrite our faulty programming. That is why we frequently combine both when we develop leaders (and in our Becoming a Daring Leadership Program).

If we want to build future-ready leaders and equip ourselves and others to navigate the change and disruption that isn’t slowing down anytime soon, we have to look for unlikely pairings. Sometimes a seemingly unlikely pairing can make something even more incredible happen. In our work, we always say this isn’t a solo journey; we aren’t meant to go this alone. And we can’t expect to get out of our own way by ourselves. Often, we need the skills and expertise of others to help us break past barriers and get to the next version of us so we can maximize our positive impact.

We would love to support you, your leaders, and your teams to benefit from the incredible combination of fusing courage-building skills with Immunity to Change.

In the meantime, here are some things we invite you to think about for yourself:

  • Where do you have skills, gifts, or training in more than one area that you could experiment with and combine— to see if they make a superior impact when combined?
  • Where are you holding yourself back – and what might open up for you if you stopped letting your 10-year-old self be in the driver’s seat?
  • Where are you perpetuating behavior that is depleting you?
  • Who can you engage to help support you?

Stay HUMAN. Stay connected. Stay safe. Show Up as a Leader.

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May 23, 12-12:30 pm CDT
3 Keys to Foster Alignment & Clarity

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