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Summary to Master of Change by Brad Stulberg

Master of Change explores how to train the mind for navigating periods of transition and upheaval. Stulberg argues change is inevitable personally and professionally, so developing skills around adaptability is key. He discusses how mindfulness practices, embracing uncertainty, and reframing perspectives can foster resilience.

The book shares stories of individuals who thrived during major changes using concepts like reframing mindsets, managing energy levels, and cultivating fluidity. Readers learn science-backed exercises to build mental flexibility and deal constructively with disruption. Stulberg outlines a step-by-step framework called Change Triangle to guide leading oneself effectively through transitions.

Summary to Master of Change by Brad Stulberg

With clear writing and meaningful anecdotes, Master of Change provides a compelling case that mastery involves learning from all experiences, desired or not. While some sections rehashed familiar territory, overall it serves as a thoughtful primer for navigating life’s uncertain periods with poise and presence of mind. The actionable strategies can help anyone embrace and benefit from inevitable change more smoothly.

In summary, Master of Change by Brad Stulberg aims to develop skills for smoothly navigating life transitions through building mental flexibility and resilience. Call to action: Continue reading to learn Stulberg’s Change Triangle framework for guiding oneself effectively through disruption and uncertainty.


Self-help, coaching, psychology, business, leadership, mindfulness, success, lifestyle, motivation, health, innovation, creativity, management, career


36 – that’s the number of major changes an average adult will experience (approximately one every 18 months). These major changes include graduating, ending a relationship, losing a job, starting a business, relocating to a new city, and retiring.

When you experience a significant change in your life, the worst thing you can do is wish things would go back to the way they were, because resisting a change turns pain into prolonged suffering. However, if you learn to accept change quickly and then take three essential steps immediately following a change, you’ll not only prevent needless suffering, but you’ll evolve as a person and be better able to handle life’s inevitable changes.

Think of the three essential steps using the analogy of a shipwreck ‐ to avoid going down with the ship, you must first find an inflatable life raft. The life raft represents a part of your identity that you can cling to in turbulent times.

Diversify your identity

When change threatens your core identity, your life can fall into chaos. For example, if you see yourself as a programmer, and your identity is threatened after seeing AI write flawless code, you’ll likely experience a crisis of confidence. Or if you primarily see yourself as an athlete and you suffer an injury, you’ll be devastated. However, by broadening your identity to encompass various roles you’re proud of — like a great friend, loving parent, better‐than‐average cook, aspiring writer, solid guitar player, or anything else that makes you feel appreciated and competent — then a change in any one area of your life is less debilitating because you have other areas to support your self‐worth and optimism as you work on rebuilding the area of your life that was affected by the change.

It’s akin to having an extra bedroom in your house you can sleep in while you renovate your master bedroom.

Author Brad Stulberg says, “There are times when I lean heavily into each of my main identities—father, husband, writer, coach, friend, athlete, and neighbor… I focus on keeping all of these identities strong, (to) ensure that when things falter in one area of my life I can rely on the others to energize and pick me up…”

So, I pose the following question to you: How can you invest in other areas of your identity to stay buoyant when change threatens one part of your identity?

Focus on your core values

Once you’ve found comfort in an unchanged aspect of your identity, it’s time to focus on your core values (or what I like to call your guiding values) as you establish a new normal. These values often lie beneath the activities you enjoyed before any change occurred. For instance, if an economic recession causes you to lose your job, do you miss the collaboration and teamwork the most? If you relocate to a new city and long for your old friends, is it their sense of humor that you miss the most?

Understanding what you value most in past experiences provides the foundation for crafting a new, potentially better experience. Rebuilding an area of your life around your core values is like remembering what you liked most about your master bedroom before it was damaged and using that knowledge to guide the renovation and create a new space you’ll love.

If I were to lose my business, it would suck, but I wouldn’t fall into depression because I understand why I love my work. Running my business allows me to learn, curate information, work with autonomy, and enjoy long periods of deep work. I’m confident these four qualities can be found in another business or career.

Practice rugged flexibility

Continuing with the shipwreck analogy: the first step is finding a raft, the second is using a compass (aka your core values) to guide you towards land, and the final step requires paddling for a short bit and checking the compass to see if you’re still on course. In life, this final step requires experimenting with different strategies while staying aligned with your core values.

Take Roger Federer’s example: in 2013, he was at the peak of his career, winning impressively. However, a series of back injuries plagued his performance in the latter half of the year. Many thought his age was catching up with him. Instead of losing hope, Federer remembered his core values, competition and excellence, and got busy experimenting with new playing strategies. Federer developed a lethal backhand spin shot and a playstyle that moved him closer to the net, allowing him to end matches quickly and minimize the stress on his back. In 2017, Federer had an extraordinary season, going 54‐5 and winning two major championships at age 36 ‐ a testament to the power of adapting while staying true to his core values.

Let your core values guide you through change, as Federer’s passion for competition and excellence did for him. Then, get busy trying various approaches to recapture the essence of what you enjoyed most before the change occurred. Practice rugged flexibility – stay stubbornly firm in your values but flexible in your approach while expecting many setbacks.

“Change itself is neutral. It becomes negative or positive based on how we view it and, more importantly, what we do with it.” – Brad Stulberg

About the Author

Brad Stulberg

Nina Norman is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. She has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Nina has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. She is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Nina lives in London, England with her husband and two children. You can contact her at [email protected] or follow her on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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