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  • Maria Vandenburg

Inner MBA: Uncovering my Immunity to Change

Updated: Oct 17

So Module 1 of the Inner MBA program has now officially been released. It is my intention with both the Inner MBA and U.Lab to document as much of my journey as possible.


The Inner MBA is divided into three different trimesters.

  1. The first is focused on becoming a mindful leader

  2. The second on exceptional teamwork (with the idea of bringing out the best in myself and in others) and the

  3. Third trimester focuses on organizational progress and transformation.


Which leads well into the reflection questions asked during our orientation. My full thoughts, and video reflection can be viewed on that here: Blog Post on Starting with the End in Mind


Module One had three main focuses.


Jeremy Hunter PHD, founding director of the Executive Mind Leadership Institute and one of the core faculty members, started as off with a deep dive in what mindfulness means to him. He called it "Embracing the Reality of Mindfulness." Did you know, for example, that 46% of the time our attention is wondering, or that less than 1/3 of people can tell you the emotion they are feeling in the current moment? I didn't either. He then went on to share that our perception creates our reality. He defines mindfulness as the ability to see the nature of our construction process to accept and choose better in the future. To Jeremy, mindfulness is the capacity to direct attention, to provide sensory clarity, and to accept our inner experience.





Up next was Lisa Lahey, EdD, Lecturer at Harvard and Co-Founder and Co-Director of Minds at Work. Lisa actually inspired this blog entry and the video above with her Immunity to Change Model. Lisa explains how you can create lasting change through meaningful goals by exploring your unconscious resistance to change by creating your personal Immunity to Change Map. She will teach us how to:

  • Identify the obstacles we need to solve to reach a productive solution

  • Recognize our unconscious goals we falsely rely on to protect ourselves

  • Acknowledge our psychological immune system that protects us from change

I'll be sharing more here as I move through it, but one of our first assignments was to create an Immunity to Change Improvement Goal. I have spent the last few days focused on this and have selected what I currently feel like is my largest block from fully inhabiting and being present: My anxiety.


I'm at this crazy stage in my life where I'm in the middle of a rapid transition, but I am also allowing myself to fully feel HOWEVER I'm feeling in the moment. That means, for example, when there was a storm earlier this week and satellite internet did not work during said storm, Maria burst into tears (and yes, I did just refer to myself in the third person). You wouldn't think having reliable internet would be so anxiety-inducing to me, but in my present moment? It really is.


A lot of my world is online right now, companies I am actively involved with, organizations I'm supporting, this Inner MBA Program, and U.lab, not to mention getting started with crystallizing the vision for my own company. Being able to regularly connect, tap in, tune in, turn on is something I have taken for granted, and something that is proving to be a really difficult adjustment. BUT, I also know that there is a reason for all of this, and I was excited today to take one of the things that is causing me the most stress, to shift and work with it to get to a place where it serves me.


So how exactly am I going to turn my anxiety into a deeper source of trust? I'm not entirely sure yet. But I am looking forward to using the Inner MBA, uncovering and becoming conscious of my mind's immune system, and Lisa Lahey's Immunity to Change model to pave the way.


Week Two has us take a look at our Immunity to Change goal and fill out Column 2 which is about what are we doing and/or not doing to work towards it. My Immunity to Change goal has been modified slightly to move from leveraging my anxiety to building trust. I have completed the two columns and have highlighted them below.


Week Three is about when I imagine myself doing the opposite of my column two behaviors (i.e. attaching strongly to the anxiety, not observing my body and detaching, basically becoming the storyline that my anxiety is telling me is going to happen... this disastrous future state), then what are the worries and fears that show up for me. Captured that below as well. I'm not sure if I completed this right however, so I'll update again once I have had my first meeting with my immunity to change partner.



Up next was meeting with my Immunity to Change partner, Esther, where we realized that we had actually completed column 2 and column 3 incorrectly. It's a natural human emotion and feeling state to what to defend and justify behaviors that we view as "bad" and "needing to be fixed" but it defeats the point of this practice. The only way that I am able to really open up and become conscious of mind's immunity system and the way that I hold myself back is if I'm willing to look at my "flaws." I needed to be willing to see the following:




What I realized is that all of this lack of trust and anxiety is tied to my fears of helplessness and losing control. What's the issue? Well, the issue is all of the actions that my brain's immune system currently does (i.e. worrying about future outcomes that aren't actually present, getting attached and believing in worse case scenarios, not fully being present with what is and finding the gratitude in everything) DON"T actually help me.


So it's great to have awareness in this, but I'm left wondering "OK, well, what's next?" Which is actually a pretty common theme in my life, present moment.


I'm submitting the assessment today, so we shall see what's next.


More to come! Thanks as always for tuning in. ❤️

© 2020 by Maria Vandenburg