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The Universal Model Of Change

Stop fighting - Start riding the rhythm of universal change

Have you ever had an urge to make a significant change in your life, agonised and despaired for months, or even years, before things became so intolerable that you finally took the plunge?  Here is why it happened, and why it will happen again.

"To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often."

The Universal Model Of Change

An excellent model I often refer to with my Business and Executive Coaching clients is the Universal Model of Change

This model gives us great insight into the process that we undergo when we make significant changes in our lives, and can help explain why this process is often accompanied by emotional chaos and turmoil.  Most importantly, it helps reveal what you can do to accelerate this change. 

But let me be clear. It’s not a question of avoiding these inevitable universal circles of change. They will happen, whether you want them too or not!

It’s also not about avoiding the perceived pain that will come with it – but it is about growing with more ease and grace through change. The Universal Model of change allows you to identify these rhythms of life earlier and faster (not only in hindsight) and to know what to do to help yourself. 

A Case Study: Anna

Anna dedicated her whole life to Enterprise Process Architecture. She loved the subject from day one at University. Bridging the gap between business and IT to improve customer experience and business performance made her thrive. It was what she believed in and what she was dedicated to. 

Anna became an outstanding subject matter expert, and enjoyed educating and guiding many large corporations as management consultant and internal architect on their path to excellent business and customer experiences.

The Universal Model of Change

The model takes us through the process of change, starting at position A, moving left to right ending at our desired outcome (and repeat).

Position A - BAU ‘Business as usual’


Position A is often described as ‘business as usual’, ‘the status quo’ or just ‘life just happens’, but basically everything is more or less OK. We are totally in our comfort zone experiencing the normal ups and downs in business and life, and then…, out of the blue, we have a great idea! From here, we begin the irresistible experience of exploring and ruminating on our new idea.

Position A often occurs when we are in a safe and comfortable environment, being with people with whom we feel safe to explore ideas and dreams. Here we feel liberated to be silly, to think out of the norm, safe to manifest, to create, to dream and think outside the box.  

This stage of change can occur at any time, perhaps amongst inspiring business colleagues and friends, or possible inspiration may hit after a couple of refreshing yeast or grape beverages!  It often begins with the following five words…

… ‘wouldn’t it be great if, …’


We might reimagine old ideas we had long shelved, which re-emerge gleaming and revitalised with our new emotions. Perhaps this is the dawn of a great new idea,  blossoming in the moment, thriving in the state of daydreaming, unlocking accelerated emotions. 

We find ourselves enjoying the moment of thoughtful delight, until that old killjoy ‘logic’ kicks in, bringing us back to the here and now. 

And now, it gets interesting: Despite no visible action being taken yet, we are nonetheless not the same person – because on an unconscious level, change has already begun.

Ideas + Intensive Emotion = Physical change in our body

Specifically, our neuro pathways in our brains have changed. While our conscious mind is able to forget and even return to our daily routine, our unconscious mind has taken notice. Like a best friend,  it won’t forget who you are and knows deep down  – what you truly want – and – what makes you happy.  

Your unconscious mind will make sure to remind you, to lighten up that neural-pathway, again. But not right now, because your conscious mind and your unconscious routine has taken over. So, you are going on, thinking nothing has changed, while in reality, possibly everything has changed, right now. 


Journey A - B:


With big, bold and meaningful ideas, the above might happen now and then, yet again and again, over a long period of time, while going along with our daily routines, and dreaming about a different, more desirable future. Until …


Case study continued...

Being a life-long-learner, and knowing the value of bringing left-field thinking back into Anna’s business and team, she went to many seemingly unrelated workshops and training courses. 

Anna and her husband enjoyed the courses and found themselves reflecting upon ‘what it must feel like to own and run your own business’, and how their idea could contribute to a better world. 

They imagined the kind of like-minded and smart people they would employ. How well they would treat and respect their employees. They looked forward to having the flexibility and freedom to work on something meaningful and maybe even have more time to see their parents and siblings overseas each year. It was a memorable time, and they often enjoyed talking about it, again and again. 


Position B: A kind reminder from your unconscious mind

Point B is not so much a specific day or event, it is a time in your life when everything that came easy and effortless to you, starts to feel uncomfortable, demotivating, hard and draining. It’s your unconscious mind kindly reminding you, that ignoring that physical part of your desire is not working anymore.  

Position B - C: Something is just not right


But ‘hey – you are a resilient leader, right?!’, so we pick ourselves up again and again, leveraging our well trained, existing strategies, which we have mastered over the years, to get ourselves out of the business blues. We tend to realise that our existing strategies, which have served us well for so long, are either not working anymore, or are effective only in the short-term, and are not sustainable.  At this time both business and life can feel very heavy and we think to ourselves ‘something is just not right, something is actually really wrong with me, but I don’t know what  – and I don’t know why’.

The closer we get to Position C, the more our feelings of confusion and doubt intensify. The seeds of discontent have sprouted and are growing. We feel out of control and find ourselves embracing a daily cocktail of negative emotions, like:  


  • Fear – ‘What is happening with me?’
  • Ignorance – ‘I can’t have this right now.’
  • Frustration ‘I can’t believe that this is happening to me.’
  • Anger – ‘[PG]’
  • Confusion – ‘I just don’t understand why this is happening to me.’
  • Disappointment – ‘I should be able to get this back on track.’
  • Confusion – ‘I am a good person?! I am doing the right thing, ain’t I?’
  • Regret – ‘I should have listened to… my parents.’
  • Sadness – ‘Why me? Why now?


… the range of negative emotions is endless. 

This negative situation arises due to a conflict between our conscious and unconscious mind. I.e. our unconscious mind is telling us something is not right whilst our conscious mind, is trying to rationalise why the old status quo should be preserved! Even if we don’t realise it, there is no going back.


‘The unconscious mind can’t be consciously ignored!’

Position C - Rock Bottom


Here we could be forgiven for thinking that life is failing us, or we are failing life. We attempt to deal with this unpleasant stage by falling back on our outdated coping strategies, rationalising why we shouldn’t feel this way;  but in the end, we must accept that this previous current state is no longer available to us. Exhaustion, increased frequency of illness, burnout, anxiety, depressive thought patterns, fear, sadness and other symptoms strengthen.


You  can certainly feel this way despite outward appearances of success, and if you ignore this stage for too long, it may even manifest as a chronic illness. 

Case study continued...

Some years ago, Anna was sitting in her beautiful beachfront apartment, reflecting on life, she realised that she had all the things she always wanted.  Anna realised that she has achieved the many things she wanted to achieve. She was exactly where she wanted to be. She had a beautiful relationship with her husband, she lived in a beautiful apartment facing the ocean and enjoyed financial security. Nevertheless, she thought to herself: ‘I should be happy, but I am not. What is wrong with me?’ Anna felt empty, burnt out and even lonely.   

Despite the warning signs, Anna continued working, until her body gave her more warning signs. She fell sick. After many tests, and many specialists appointments Anna’s Dr. recommended anti-depressants. This came as a terrifying shock to her. 

‘How could this be?’ It was at this moment that she realised that if she took this step – she would simply be treating symptoms, and not the cause. Anna firmly believes that sickness was her body’s way of telling her  ‘You must change, now!’, and yet despite this, she still felt unclear, and unsure if she could do what it takes, and what the change was  anyway! 

Fortunately Anna knew who could help her to gain clarity and confidence; she reached out to her trusted executive coach.


“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

It is at this stage that the right coach can bring you the most relief, by helping you gain perspective to navigate this ambiguous territory of self, from where you can design your new landscape. It is at this stage that we see meaningful synchronicities occur that support us on our new trajectory, for many people, one of these synchronicities is to find the right coach, to guide and accelerate you through this transition. (You can download our quick guide on ‘How To Find The Perfect Coach For You’ here.)

My personal wish and recommendation is that with this new in-sight, you might reach out before the pain becomes unbearable, before your body starts to warn you, before you hit rock bottom.

Conscious Leadership

Conscious leadership is being aware of the universal model of change, that is accompanying our lives, and to reach out to people that you trust and that can help, as early as the journey from A to B. Brainstorm, soundboard, qualify, and create a sustainability plan to execute on your challenges, opportunities and ideas. Because, let’s face it: change of this type of sort will happen, and it will happen to everyone, and it will happen to us, again and again, over the years

Think about your life and about the big, bold, meaningful leaps you took, and the big, bold, meaningful changes you have been through. Think about your 20’s, your 30’s your 40’s and 50’s, … and note down the big changes that you have been through and the years that changed ‘everything’, too. 

Think about major career changes, moving to another country, navigating a divorce. 

I don’t know you, but by studying my clients and their patterns of change on a daily basis, I dare to predict that you have been through one of these bigger changes every decade, sometimes even as often as every 7-9 years. It is likely that this will continue to happen to all of us in a natural rhythm of change, every 7-12 years or so.  

And if we would accept, even only the possibility that this could be a universal truth for all of us, my hope is, that this awareness will help us to navigate these inevitable changes with more ease and grace.  


Change is Unviersal

“The smallest change in perspective can transform a life”

Case study continued...

By making the decision to work with the best executive coach she could find, Anna opened herself up to see the inevitable, and finally understood what happened to her, why it happened and how she could navigate this change. It was a big relief for her, to finally understand.

“Three things in life – your health, your mission, and the people you love. That’s it.”

Position C-D: On the Up

This is where the true change begins, with our increased awareness, we can begin to plan and to take action. We take sequential steps towards our newly imagined future. Two steps forward, one step back. It’s an amazing opportunity for personal and professional growth and with the right awareness and support team in place, it is an invigorating time. 

It’s a lot of work, but you enjoy working towards your big, bold dream with a new sense of purpose and meaning. The investment in professional help from your trusted support team of coaches and mentors will accelerate this phase and can be crucial to the personal and financial return of investment (ROI) of your efforts.  

Case study continued...

Anna took a couple of steps back with her coach and designed a sustainable and holistic strategic plan (including personal and business aspects), distilled her primary, overarching aim in life and her values, to make sure that her business idea, and subsequent her business plan and execution was in alignment with all of that. 

After over 25 years, she resigned from her executive job, and said farewell to the corporate world. Anna was terrified, relieved and excited at the same time, as she embarked on her new business adventure. The coaching enabled her to be well planned and even feeling excitement towards the unknown, despite the discomfort, fear and pain of the recent past. 

Anna has now opened her own small business in the heart of Sydney, based on a conservative and well thought through business plan and operating model, and is enjoying her incredible professional transformation with all the normal ups and downs of life. 


Position D - Self 2.0


You have done the work and you have grown and expanded your comfort zones, many, many times, you have overcome doubt and negative thinking patterns, developed new strategies and are moving forward with certainty, joy and commitment. You feel a new energy and enthusiasm and possibilities, and will remain here until … 


Position D - Self 2.0 ’

to ..

… ‘wouldn’t it be great if, …’

How an Executive Coach can help you navigate the Universal Model Of Change?


As we all know, even the greatest athletes in the world have coaches. Before engaging a coach, it is only natural to ask, do I even need a coach?   

While trusted colleagues and stakeholders in the workplace may be there to support and guide you towards decisions, the reality is that conflicting agendas, KPIs and skill sets may lend themselves to less than optimum advice and guidance. This of course, goes for loved ones, despite their best intentions. 

The importance of choosing the right coach is so essential that I have written an Executive Coaching guide which covers all you need to know about executive coaching, why it is important and how you can best benefit from it and be sure that you know that this it is for you. You can also read more about our Executive Coaching services, Career Coaching services and Business Coaching services. Or book in a 15 minute complementary introductory call with me here.

☎️ Ask a Specific Question

Please feel free to send me a LinkedIn message with your feedback or book in a 15 min call for any specific questions you may have.  I am looking forward to continued meaningful connections.


Meet the author

Susanne Rauer, Executive Master Coach at GAIA Coaching – Executive Coaching Sydney, April 2019.

Susanne Rauer

An Executive Coaching Point of View (ExCoVi)

As an Executive Master Coach and Trainer, I am very fortunate to work with various talented, high-achieving and wonderful people. Every time I coach, I learn something new about my client, our society and myself. The summary of thoughts is based on emerging themes across all kinds of interactions I have; be it one-on-one executive coaching, group coaching or coaching training. ExCoVis are meant to invite people to think differently based on scientifically or statistically proven understanding and lateral thinking. None of the content is meant to offend anyone in any way and is rather an invitation to discuss different executive points of view with respect and integrity. The content is shared to raise awareness and to inspire people to integrate their conscious and unconscious mind and therefore transform unconscious behaviour into conscious behaviour.

GAIA Coaching – Your boutique executive coaching partner – Sydney, Australia.


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