The Axes of Change Model: Potential Pitfalls and the Importance of Balanced Guidance

The Axes of Change model, heralded as the first non-therapeutic change model, aims to empower high achievers and well-functioning individuals to embrace change even when they are not in apparent need. While this model can indeed catalyse personal and professional growth, its application, especially when taken to extremes, can have unintended negative consequences, particularly in the context of family and relationships. This article explores how the Axes of Change model can potentially cause harm if adopted uncritically and without the guidance of a balanced, holistic approach.
The Allure of Constant Change

The Axes of Change model encourages individuals to continually reassess their goals and pursue new destinations. For high achievers who might feel unproductive or stagnant, this message can be particularly appealing. The promise of renewed purpose and direction can motivate individuals to break free from unproductive routines, but it can also lead to disruptive decisions if not carefully considered.
Case in Point: The High Achiever’s Dilemma

Consider the example of a high achiever who feels unproductive and resorts to watching Netflix at home instead of engaging in more productive activities. A coach utilising the Axes of Change model might suggest that the individual’s home life or partner could be the source of this perceived stagnation. The advice might be to envision a new future and make bold changes to achieve it, potentially disregarding the repercussions on their family and relationships.
Potential Negative Impacts

Disruption of Stability: Encouraging drastic changes based on the pursuit of new goals can disrupt the stability of existing relationships. Decisions such as changing careers or moving to a new location without considering the impact on a partner or family can create emotional and logistical challenges.

Overlooking Underlying Issues: The model's focus on change as a panacea might neglect deeper issues that require more nuanced solutions. Feelings of unproductivity could stem from emotional or mental health concerns that need addressing through therapeutic means rather than superficial changes.

Pressure to Conform: High achievers might feel pressured to constantly evolve and improve, leading to burnout. This relentless pursuit can overshadow the importance of maintaining healthy, supportive relationships, creating unrealistic expectations within the family dynamic.

Ethical Concerns: The model’s implicit suggestion to "ignore the damage you may cause, because change is good" raises ethical issues. It implies that personal ambition justifies any collateral damage, potentially fostering selfish or reckless behavior that harms loved ones.

The Role of the Coach

Coaches who are deeply invested in the Axes of Change model and associated practices like Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) may develop a near-narcissistic belief in the efficacy of their program. This dedication can lead to a reluctance to recommend outside professional help, even when it is necessary. Such coaches might overlook the importance of a holistic approach that considers the well-being of family and relationships, focusing narrowly on the individual’s goals and perceived productivity.
The Importance of Professional Guidance

To mitigate these potential pitfalls, it is crucial for individuals and coaches to seek a balanced perspective that integrates professional help when necessary. Here are some key recommendations:

Holistic Assessment: Before making significant changes, individuals should conduct a comprehensive assessment of their situation, considering the impact on personal life, relationships, and overall well-being.

Open Communication: Engage in open and honest dialogue with family members and partners about the desire for change and its potential impacts. Collaborative decision-making ensures mutual understanding and support.

Balanced Approach: Strive for a balance between personal growth and maintaining stable, healthy relationships. Personal development should enhance, not detract from, familial and relational well-being.

Professional Help: When contemplating major life changes, consider seeking guidance from therapists or counselors who can provide an objective perspective and help navigate complex emotional and relational dynamics.

The Axes of Change model can be a powerful tool for personal development, but its application must be tempered with consideration for the broader implications on family and relationships. Coaches and individuals alike should be wary of taking the model’s principles at face value without acknowledging the potential for harm. By integrating a holistic approach and seeking professional guidance, individuals can pursue meaningful change that enriches both their personal and relational lives.