Change: Either Do Or Don’t

By: Detri McGhee

Because my “Topic of Choice” is Criticism Management, the actual issues that I can address are almost “everything”! The more I explore this topic, the more facets of life I see affected by what we believe about and how we react to criticism. This week, I want to share some relatively new information. Well, actually, the information is not new at all, but the way it was so succinctly put forth was amazing, and I believe that you will find it most helpful, too…if you aren’t already familiar with it.

According to leadership expert Dr. John C. Maxwell, “People change 4 ways.”

1. When they hurt enough they have to.

2. When they see enough they are inspired to.

3. When they learn enough that they want to.

4. When they receive enough that they’re able to.

The catalysts for change, therefore are either pain, inspiration, education or empowerment.

Personally, it took me a long time to truly believe/understand that you can NOT change people! I thought if you loved them enough, served them best, met their needs, and let them know what you liked that all would be wonderful. Now I know the fallacy of that kind of thinking.

I have a list of book titles I hope to pen someday. One of them is: You Cannot Change People! Let me show you how…

Oh, I know the title doesn’t make sense – yet – but between the two thoughts will be a little tiny, itsy, bitsy sub-title: “But you can change your response to them.”

One of the heaviest burdens of managing criticism is when that critic is someone you love dearly, but can hardly survive having in your life. (Does anyone know what I’m talking about?)

No matter what you say or do, or refrain from saying or doing, nothing much changes. They are still “them.” Well, friend, the above methods of securing change apply to them as well as to you. And, one of the most helpful lessons we can personally learn and apply is this: I cannot change them. BUT… (Big little Word, “but”!) I can change myself.

The Chinese have an outstanding truth in one of their many special sayings:

“In order to CHANGE, you have to CHANGE.”

It seems we all want to change, but we don’t want to do anything differently. Sure, I want to lose weight, but I don’t want to eat healthy. Yes, I want to be stronger, but I don’t want to exercise. I want this relationship to be better…but I am not willing to do the hard stuff it takes to either make it better or break it off. I want situations to change, but I don’t want to change.

In today’s thoughts, I am hitting a number of topics lightly that need to be addressed in depth, but we only have limited space here. One is: If you can learn to successfully live with a negative, complaining, difficult person in your life, without getting ulcers or depression, there are high blessings that will come your way that you will miss if you don’t choose to learn this art. Another: Among us adults, YOU are NOT responsible for anyone but “you.” However, you ARE responsible for “you.”

What do you want to change in your life? Write your list. Prioritize it. What must be done to change this part of your life? Are you willing to do that? If so, put on your NIKE’s and JUST DO IT. Make a timeline. Be accountable.

If you are not willing to do what must be done, quit wanting it to change, learn to accept it, live with it, and stop saying you want what you are not willing to help accomplish. I used to pray for God to take away my frustration over a particular regularly occurring situation. Finally, someone wise entered my life through a book, and opened my eyes. He penned this concept: Stop asking God to do for you what He has already given you the right to do for yourself. Don’t give God your bad attitude, your gossiping tongue…etc. He doesn’t want it. You have the God-given right and ability to change many things. DO what you have the right and ability to do. Quit expecting others to do your work for you.



Detri would love to hear from you! Especially your thoughts on how to handle criticism, or problems you would like to get feedback on from others. Email: or Facebook: Criticism Management by Detri. Free outline for Criticism Management available at

By: Detri McGhee – CLU, ChFC