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Some people like to travel and others would rather stay home. I like to travel. I have had the wonderful opportunity to travel a great deal this past year both professionally and personally. I have traveled internationally to Berlin, Germany and to Vancouver, Canada for Motivational Interviewing trainings. I have hiked in the Swiss Alps, snorkeled in Hawaii, biked across Door County in Wisconsin, and hiked in Rocky Mountain National Park. Lessons on Life and Work: What hiking in the Swiss Alps Taught Me.  I share that with you because not only have I learned so much about these locations, it has given me a renewed perspective on life and our role as care managers, coaches, educators and guides championing others towards change.

Travel Lightly

What I have realized is that to survive in another city, state, and country, it works best if I take the perspective of others. Going with the flow of where I am: the language, culture, values and practices of others living in that location. How I live and my life practices may not “fit” in the area where I am traveling. What this means is traveling with an open mind and open heart works the best. Isn’t this the same as when we partner with individuals on behavior change? Being open and realizing that I don’t have all the answers is a fundamental principle. It is not “my way or the highway thinking.” I want to take the perspective of others.

Five (5) Key “Take Aways” on the connection of traveling and Motivational Interviewing:

  1. Go into a conversation with others with an open mind and heart. Minimize “my agenda” thinking.
  1. Be curious about others. Ask open-ended questions to learn more: what, tell me, describe.
  1. Tread lightly when talking about change others could make. We don’t know their life. We have not walked in their hiking boots!
  1. It is a pull (learn about others) rather than a push (information and my perspective on what and how something should happen).
  1. Be a guide on the side rather than a sage on the stage.

As we continue to have engaging, respectful and effective conversations with others regarding change, may we be reminded to travel lightly. May we be a curious learner. May we take the perspective of others to learn their culture, practices, and their why.

Taking the perspective of others. This will serve us well as health coaches and in life.

Transform conversations. Transform healthcare. Transform lives.

Becky Lang


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“Dr. Lang’s training provided me with a better understanding of the motivational interviewing process. The skills I learned from her training have helped me feel more engaged and thoughtful when listening and talking with those around me. Dr. Lang is energetic, knowledgeable, passionate and provides a great learning environment.”

Nancy AdrianseBSDH, Oral Health Manager, Iowa Primary Care Association

“The training I received in Becky’s motivational interviewing class was invaluable. It laid a wonderful foundation for me to effectively empower my patients to develop and implement positive changes for their health. Becky created such a nurturing, nonthreatening environment that allowed me to freely learn and practice. This is certainly a class I can recommend to anyone wanting to learn to assist others with behavior changes.”

Robin GeorgeRN, Motivational Interviewing training participant

“At the YMCA, we have worked with Dr. Becky Lang for over a decade now to help us shift and shape our culture. As an organization committed to strengthening our community, the coaching and training skills that Dr. Lang has provided have helped us immensely. With her education and guidance she has helped us establish a culture that focuses on building meaningful relationships with our members, focusing on their needs, and coaching them towards success in their pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. Dr. Lang has trained all levels of our staff from our front line Wellness Coaches to our Executive Directors and Leadership Teams. Her on-going support has allowed the coaching-culture to come alive in our organization.”

Kim Stewart Kim Stewart Director of Operations, YMCA of Greater Des Moines

“The training Becky provided has been one of the most rewarding nursing experience I have had in 30 years. The style of interviewing and teaching patients is rewarding and positive. Her techniques drive the sessions to be more personal and patient-centered. Through Becky’s teaching, I was comfortable to practice and get familiar with the motivational interviewing process. Becky is an exceptional trainer and I recommend her training to all health coaches and educators.”

Sandy LovelessRN, Motivational Interviewing training participant

“The motivational interviewing techniques Becky teaches allow patients to set goals and work toward changes that are important to them. Patients feel in control of their own health and allow me to be in a more supportive roll. Becky has a positive and uplifting spirit that makes her classes extremely enjoyable.”

Tyra CarltonRN, Motivational Interviewing training participant

“Rebecca Lang was a respected colleague who diligently served as a teacher and mentor to hundreds of students over her long career at Grand View University. I had the distinct pleasure to work with Becky and regularly witness her vocation to Wellness education. She motivates those around her by a strong and genuine commitment to a lifestyle which promotes health and well-being.”

Katharina TumpekPhD, Professor and former Chair, Dept. of Health Promotions, Grand View University

“It has been a pleasure to work with Becky Lang over the last 25 years. Within a variety of contexts in the wellness arena, I have witnessed Dr. Lang’s mastery as a wellness educator, a health coach, a professor, and, most recently, as a health coaching trainer. I could go on at length about Dr. Lang’s passion, enthusiasm, high energy, wisdom, and deep knowledge in health promotion and behavior change. One of the attributes that impresses me most, though, is her ability to create a relaxed, fun, interactive, and content-rich training environment. Her refreshingly supportive, inviting, and empathic style of training and coaching allows learners to take risks, experiment, try on new skills, and participate authentically in role play exercises without feeling awkward and intimidated. Through Dr. Lang’s coaching and training, people learn–often more than they imagined.”

Jill NorrisRN, MPH, PCMH-CCE, Director, Care Management, University of Iowa Health Alliance