There’s one view, which says: "People Don’t Change."

and there’s another view, which says: "Anyone Can Change, At Any Time."

So… how do we sort out these conflicting views?

The answer is more interesting than most people think… and it starts with changing yourself.

Changing With Others, Not Against Them

The way it works is that you change yourself – whenever you’re ready – and then all the people swirling around you have an opportunity to roll with your change, or hate on it. It’s kind of like improv.

It’s something like: "I used to put up with X, but now I only hang around Y. I have changed." and by making that change, others are then faced with a new reality, allow and respect your change, or resist it.

In improv, the story is constantly changing, and the the rule of rolling with change is:

"yes-and" (not… "no-but"),

Basically, you agree and add to whatever the other person is offering. So if we take two people building an improv-sketch about meeting at a bus stop, it might look something like this:


John: "I’m a famous rockstar."
Sue: "Yes and your fans are mainly angry white videogamers!"
John: "Yes and thats why my new single is called 0wned Ragequit n00b."
Sue: "Yes and it is big in Japan as well."

This is how you "roll with" somebody. This is how you have a good time. This is how you grow together.

You do that, and the story progresses well and everyone feels awesome and validated with each contribution they make to the relationship.

If it was not using "yes-and" it’d be more like this:

John: "I’m a famous rockstar."

Sue: "No you’re not!"
John: …Um…

See? One person is playing the roll well, saying yes, and building on things.

The other one is pure hater, and the story’s awkward and halting,

This way, actor John does not feel very good about contributing much further, it’s just gonna be greeted with a ‘NO’.

Relationships Are Improv

Building relationships is the same thing as improv. One person declares what’s important to them, and their partner or friends or family can embrace it and encourage it with a "yes-and" attitude, or they can sulk, pout, drift, and resist it.

Personally, I’ve made "yes-and" a habit in every inch of my conversation.

I believe in people.

I love seeing deep value in anything that anyone’s offering.

I’ve been with ‘assholes’, ‘leeches’, ‘theives’, and more, and I’ve been able to encourage them all with not a hint of judgment.

(I’m not special or anything, when I was young I was a cynical judge-er of everyone. I’m not proud of it, but it taught me a lot about both sides of things.)

Transforming relationships isn’t for pussies.

It’s not for the faint-of-heart.

It takes balls, from everyone involved.

As we saw above, if either John or Sue starts saying "no-but" instead of "yes-and" the whole thing crashes, and person A will go find something (or someone) else to do 😉

Want Some Examples?

Check out these situations, you’ve probably experienced something like them.

SCENE: Italian Restuarant
John: "I now only hang-around confident decision-makers and people who feel success-focused who match me in value and pace."
Sue: "Nope, you’re with me, and I`m not much of a decision-maker, and my success-focus is not-even-close-to-your-scale, neither is my pace."
John: "Uh… I guess, so…so, uh yes and I believe you can change right now, in this moment, join me."
Sue: "No way, nuh-uh."
John: "… uh… k…."

Here’s on more:

SCENE: House Party
John: "Alright, it’s time for me to focus on X, and I can only be around people who HELP with X."
Sue: "Doubtful. I know you, you stick around for anything."
John: "Yes I used to, and now I’m leaving. It’s just for a short time, until you can truly help with what I’m doing, or until I’m done X."
Sue: "No, I don’t like this."
John: "Uh, well… yes, and I can see you don’t like it and I want to help."
Sue: "Hmph. Well? Then? So? Help!"
John: "Uh…yes, and… uh…."

In our examples we can see that Sue is basically un-co-operative, and not using "yes-and" in the face of John’s growth.

No matter how generous and "yes-and" focused John is, it’s not enough to carry the relationship.

It Takes Two, Baby

So there you have it…

Relationships are improv, and now you know it.

Suck at improv? Get better. You’ll need it.

If you’re involved with someone who just doesn’t get it, it’s time for you to go, or you’ll stick around in a very awkward, very horrible, relationship, hoping they’ll change.

Express what’s important to you, and then the ball’s in the other person’s court.

They have a chance to show off their co-operation and share some love, or they have a chance to close up, yell-out a "no-but" and show you where they’re at.

Don’t waste time, don’t be scared of the answer, just say your piece, and see how the improv unfolds.

Do everyone a favour, if they can’t improv with you, move on very, very quickly. You can explain why, or you can not, but don’t be dragged through some awkward, halting relationship.

Yes, I know, you want everyone to ryze up with you

I’ve been there.

You’re a star, and you’re blasting off, and you want people in your life to come with you.


That’s their call to make.

"The real is on the rise,
F-ck them other guys,
I even gave ’em a chance to decide —
Now it’s something they know
They know, they know, they know" – Drake

Note: This was part of a 6-part series called "Rocketships Or Cars: The Art Of Friends"

Now… how about you? Ever been in any situations where you keep getting "no’s" (even subtle ones)?

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