Book Talk with Lynda: Special Guest Darrell Haemer
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This is my first book talk with a nonfiction author, so I think we can all agree that I’m pretty excited to talk about changing my attitude about change.
Lynda: Hey Darrell, I found you some walkin’ music for when you’re telling the big crowds about your book! Can you believe Aretha Franklin—the Queen of Soul, Darrell!—sang about this before you were even born? She knew you’d need a theme song. [Sings loudly while beckoning Darrell to the kitchen table.] Chan-chan-chaaaaaaannnnngggggge, changin’ fools! Chan-chan-chayayayayayayannnggge, changin’ fools . . .
Darrell: [Moves his mouth but nothing comes out.]
Lynda: Whatever. I get that you might not be in a singing mood this early in the morning. Since you’re not a coffee drinker, I wasn’t sure what you’d want, so here’s a giant mug of Skittles. I’m not sure what the no-coffee people do in the mornings, but the artificial dyes alone in these babies should get you going. I made sure to give you the fifteen-ouncer—is that big enough?
Darrell: [Quietly sips his Skittles before answering.]
Lynda: I’m pretty excited to talk about your book, Changing Change, not just because I really liked it, but because it’s the first time I’ve discussed a nonfiction book on Book Talk. My love for The Chicago Manual of Style doesn’t count, of course. How does it feel to have written ONE WHOLE BOOK and released it into the wild? Or into the bookstores, anyway, which can be wild enough, depending on your introvert/extrovert balance.
Darrell: Well, first, thank you for inviting me on Book Talk; it’s a real honor! And on top of that, I’m excited to have authored the first nonfiction book on Book Talk as well! To answer your question, it feels exciting, surreal, unnerving, relieving, and proud to have written this book and released it into the wild. And I think “releasing it into the wild” is an excellent description, because for me anyway, that courage to put myself out there in the large public sphere was a tangible part of the overall challenge. It feels great though. I learned and grew so much throughout the process. I certainly have no regrets.
Lynda: It’s gotta be nerve-wracking to put so much of yourself into a book, and then allow total strangers to do what they will with it. Even when you know the content is good (and I know it’s good, because I’ve read it), there’s the statistical probability that not everyone out there is going to love it or resonate with it. But tell me, first things first: what made you decide one day, “I’m going to write a book”? Was it a single event, or a culmination of observations and changes in your own life?
Darrell and his lovely wife, Devon
Darrell: It was definitely a culmination of observations and changes in my own life. Through the process of writing this book, I realized I’ve been thinking about people’s resistance to change for over 10 years, and this is me finally putting some of that into words. However, I will also say that a single event (personal life-coaching that I received) did create a turning point for me that led me from thinking about writing a book to actually starting it.
Lynda: I love those moments when everything is suddenly clear, and the next portion of the path just opens right up. That’s when the words flow the best, I think. What do you think may surprise people who read this? Of course, I’m not going to tell you what surprised me the most until you share your thoughts, and then I’m going to do the “yeah, me too!” thing. But there was definitely something that really struck me on each read-through—a moment where I just thought, Wow. That’s absolutely true. I am friends with a genius!
Darrell: [Laughs awkwardly while contemplating how to respond to . . . all that.] That’s a tricky one. I think this book holds a few surprises in store. Some people may be surprised at just how simple and fundamental change is once we get it down to the basics. Change has been defined as such a complicated, scary mess that many people may have no inkling that it’s one of the most basic concepts of life as we know it. On a “more practical” level, I think the relationship between change and our work, and particularly the work of leadership, might shock some people. We have definitely compartmentalized change in the work world to specific areas like entrepreneurs, change management, aggressive companies, and innovation, but change is a central part of everyone’s work. I’m sure some people won’t be able to believe their eyes when they first read that.
Lynda: YES! All that and more. I won’t give away any spoilers, but I really was inspired to . . . uh . . . change . . . the way I think about change. The way I respond to it, as well as the way I anticipate what it’s “supposed” to mean. And to remember that it’s everywhere—change is not lurking around the corner, waiting for a new boss, or a life crisis, or anything else. It just IS.
I think you’ve provided a really thorough roadmap as the book goes along. You talk about what change is, what it isn’t, what it should be, and how it’s perceived. And you give a lot of good talking points along the way. Being a thinker type of person, have you found yourself consciously pondering more often after working on the book for so many months? Or is it such a natural action for you that you don’t notice it anymore?
Darrell: I feel more conscious of change now after having written the book, and I’m still thinking and learning about change every day. I suppose in one sense, I can say yes, pondering change is natural for me, and therefore, I may not “notice” it, just like you might not notice the way you fold (or don’t fold) your socks; it’s just what you do naturally. On the other hand, analytical thought (including the topic of change) is important to me on a professional level, so I’m pretty intentional about investing time and energy into that work.
Lynda: Which is why the book packs such a wallop, in my opinion. It’s not some gimmicky Five Steps to Success, as you pointed out in the introduction. You actually take the time to make sure the reader understands why we currently view change the way we do before you show us the big and small ways we can adjust our thinking and actions.
So if there’s one message you’d like people to take away from this book (other than LISTEN TO ME, PEOPLE, BECAUSE I TOOK THE TIME TO WRITE THIS DOWN FOR YOU), what would make you say, “Ahh, this person really gets it. Thank goodness,” when all is said and done?
Darrell: If I can choose only one message I’d like people to take away, it would be that change is not “the problem.” Change is not the villain we have made it out to be. It’s all a big misunderstanding! Ha ha. I think if a person comes away truly believing that, they’ll begin to see the positive effect of that in their life. That’s my hope for everyone who reads this book.
Lynda: So essentially, change is telling us, “It’s not me, it’s you.” Way to toss things on their head, Change. Thanks a lot.