Our first instinct when trying to make a change is to change ourselves. Or, if we are helping another person make a change, we try to help them change themselves.

It’s a mistake. We try to change people as if they exist in a vacuum. But people don’t live in a vacuum. People are like fish, and fish live in water.

Last week’s Motivate Summit was the first two-day conference devoted to behavior change. The community decided they wanted to try a new format, a take-off on the standard unconference format and still not quite a regular conference. Instead of back-to-back sessions, four thought leaders in coaching shared wisdom via lecture, then the group broke out to talk through an agenda they had built themselves.


The concept of “change the water” is something Josh Hillis encouraged us during his talk to ponder. If you want to change a person, change their water. Look at the culture they come from, the people they know, and the attitudes they live with. Find their fish tank, and try to change the water in their tank.

The Motivate Summit, and the Motivate Collective that creates it anew every time we meet, is all about finding the best ways to build communities of change.

Motivators said afterward:

“My mind is still blown by all the tiny bits of awesome it kept absorbing all weekend.” - **Jessica Owens Mauk**
“This weekend definitely ranks as one of the best, most enlightening awesome experiences I've had. So a huge thanks to everyone who made it possible/incredible!!!” — **Jeff Morton**

And they learned:

“Using specific positive feedback for tying outcomes to process was huge.” — **Sean Flanagan**
“It helped me learn from other coaches what their questions and needs are, which helps me collaborate with them on problem solving and writing better educational resources.” — **Georgie Fear**
“Meeting a bunch of strangers can be both productive and fun. Conferences are neither of these things.” — **Roland Fisher**

Coach Stevo’s parting words:

I was personally impressed by every conversation and sidebar that I had as well as every session I attended. The level of discourse at Motivate is completely unmatched!
We feel so lucky to be a part of an amazing change taking place in our industry that is being led and driven by the coaches that clearly care the most. In 3 Motivates (in only 9mo) we've learned to trust the First Principle:
The right people are the ones who show up.

See all photos from Motivate OAK on Flickr. To become part of the Motivate Forum and get notified of the next Summit, join the community.