The First Step

Jennifer Simpson
3 min readJan 4, 2024

How to Change Anything (even when it’s hard)

Every change begins with the courage to take a first step, and then a next one…

What you are supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.

~Maya Angelou

I wrote the KOAN method: Breakthrough Leadership for a Divided World to start a conversation about how to find creative solutions to the big problems in front of us. It is intended to be both a call to action and a beacon of hope for anyone who finds themselves leading—by profession, by choice, or by accident.

I am loving the conversations I am having with readers and want to make the ideas in the book available to anyone who finds themselves looking for a breakthrough so will be releasing the whole book in short segments over the course of the year, and expanding on the thinking in it here.

You can download the opening pages of the book here.

A new segment will be available roughly every two weeks and I’ll be hosting live conversations about the ideas covered each month, too.

The book begins from the basic premise that today’s challenges require solutions that our current systems are not designed to produce repeatedly or reliably. It proposes a new model for cultivating Kind, Open, Adaptive Networks that foster and promote the kind of inclusion from which genuine creativity and innovation are born.

It is also an invitation to sit, in the tradition of working with a Zen koan, in the uncertainty of not-knowing long enough, and with sufficient curiosity, for real breakthroughs to find us.

I’ve been researching and writing about these ideas for nearly 30 years in one form or another and my own understandings have evolved with time and experience. In some ways that is precisely the point. I didn’t wait until I had it all figured out to begin.

Over the years, I have seen dozens of organizations invest hundreds of millions of dollars to develop individuals to be more authentic, conscious, purpose-driven leaders. Meanwhile, very few of those organizations have made similar investments in evolving their systems to foster, nurture, or reward those same behaviors.



Jennifer Simpson

An artist, poet, leader, lover, daughter, sister, and mother living in Boulder, Colorado. Owner and CEO at Integrated Work. Author of the KOAN method.