A lot of times, people come to a transformational container with the intention of getting better.

This is a bit of a set-up, because transformation is not about getting better. It’s about transformation.

Getting better and transformation are distinct from one another.

Getting better is about improving inside the range that you are already reliable for and capable of doing.

When I say capable of doing, I don’t mean stuff you have expertise in. I simply mean the stuff that exists for you as a possibility.

Like, you may not yet know how to ride a bike, but you could do that.

Transformation is about the stuff that currently does not exist for you as a possibility.

Imagine you’ve concluded you hate small talk, and just aren’t interested in going to parties and events where you might connect with people. In this case, the possibility of going to these events and consistently having an amazing time that leaves you filled with energy, regardless of who is attending, probably doesn’t exist for you.

That’s the realm that transformation operates in.

When we start down the transformational path, we’re often perplexed, because we’re expecting the journey to be like the journey towards getting better: we see what there is to do, we practise, we get better, the end.

But it doesn’t seem to work.

Getting better usually involves doubling down on the tendencies, patterns and habits that have worked really well for ourselves up to this point.

It’s basically a continued use of applying our winning strategy to what we’re taking on.

Transformation requires actively setting down those same tendencies, patterns and habits.

When you start to put practise, attention, and your winning strategy towards getting better at something, you generally start to see some improvement.

When you begin taking on transformation, you set aside the winning strategy in order to develop a new range. As you do so, instead of improvement, what you tend to see is that things begin getting worse.

Things get worse for a while because you are letting go of what has worked up to this point, so that you can develop new approaches. Without the old way of winning available, you will, of course, falter for a while.

When people hear me say, about the journey of transformation, “You’ll want to quit at some point”, they relate to that through their experience of getting better at something.

“Yes, I’ve gotten better at playing the piano, and sometimes it was annoying and I didn’t want to practise, but I stuck with it, and now I’m good at it. So, I’ll use that experience as a reminder and stay the course.”

But, the experience of wanting to quit in the middle of getting better is not like the experience of wanting to quit in the middle of transformation.

In the middle of transformation, it is not simply that you find it a pain in the ass to practise something new. Instead, your winning strategy and all of its accompanying habits, patterns and tendencies is actively pointing out how everything about the path you’re currently walking makes no sense. Not only does it make no sense, it’s simply outright wrong.

Continually getting better will not lead to transformation. If anything, it has you further entrench yourself in the patterns that are already working.

Taking on transformation does tend to lead to getting better at the things you’re already doing — but it takes time, and that shift only tends to occur after things have gotten worse for a while.

(Learning how to use a screwdriver will make you a better at building houses, but at first, you’re going to have to unlearn how to make a house using only a hammer and nails, how to see problems only as a function of how they can be fixed with a hammer, how to use an awkward new tool, and so on).

There’s a place for both transformation and getting better. Just make sure you’re clear on which one you want, and what will come along for the ride.