Thursday, November 29, 2012

Staying on the Cutting Edge Series: Change is Inevitable

     In my last post I covered one the obstacles of staying on the cutting edge.  Lack of time is a factor for nearly everyone.  But we can't let it be prohibitive enough that as leaders we don't improve.  The second factor is change, or not wanting to change.  What's ironic about change is that it's inevitable for everyone.  As we age we naturally change.  For some of us this is unfortunate, because some age better than others.  Civilization has made changes or progress throughout its existence.   In this instance, change always happens for the inhabitants of civilizations.  Why do people oppose change?  I think there are several reasons.

1.     Fear.  People fear change because of the unknown.  It's a security issue.  It's perfectly understandable.  Brain research shows that in order for the brain to function properly it wants to feel safe.  The unknown throws the brain into a lot of stress.  How to overcome fear of change: Make a change one small step at a time.  Doing so will allow you time to absorb the effects of a change and all the little steps will add up to you moving forward.  

2.     We've done it this way for years!   This can be the biggest obstacle for change in an organization.  It makes good sense.  Why change something if it has been working for so long?  The general consensus is that longevity equals success. How do you overcome this belief?  Don't buy into it! If you do, you won't make a change.  The people or businesses that have been around a long time have changed in order to keep up with their industry.

3.     Change brings a sense of loss.  We are creatures of habit.  When something changes, whether it's a small or big, it feels like a loss and it affects us emotionally.  I can remember when I graduated high school and moved off to college, I missed my weather man.  Think about it.  Your weather man is a trusted source for something pretty important.  The college I attended was in a different state and thus different TV channels.  Different local news equals a new weather man.  Let me make it clear that I didn't sit around and sob for this loss of my local weather man.  It was just a familiarity issue.  Something I had become accustomed to was no longer present.  It's the same way with every change we encounter.  There is a sense of loss.  The degree of attachment we have to something determines whether it’s a minor or major sense of loss.  How to handle it?  Stick with the new.  I just keep watching what was available and eventually got used to my new weather man.  Eventually the sense of loss disappeared.  If it's major, you might need to talk about it with co-workers, a supervisor, or someone close to you.  

     These are just a few reasons people feel uncomfortable when they have to deal with a changing situation.  Go through the questions below to find out where you are at in relation to change.

1.  Is my organization or industry going through a change?
2.  If it is, how am I adapting to the change?  Am I helping lead the change or am I an anchor preventing the ship from sailing into the sea of progress?
3.  What if I am not sure where I am at in the change progress in my industry?  Ask someone how you’re doing.  A trusted co-workers that will be honest with you is a valuable asset.  A word of advice: Don't ask someone who will just sugar coat the information.  Be willing to be stretched.  In a changing situation encourage people to help you by saying, "Tell me honestly."

     Whatever state of change that you are in, and remember we all are in one, keep moving forward, educating yourself and reflecting upon where you have been.  As author C.S. Lewis of the famed book "The Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe" would say,

     It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg.  We are like eggs at present.  And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg.  We must be hatched or go bad.


Anonymous said...

One of my favorite books on change is, Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson.

Michael Nelson said...

I liked, "Who Moved My Cheese" too. This also reminded me a bit of the book "Fish." They talk about learning to "play" at your work. That follows the previous set of blogs that you wrote. I loved the quote from C.S. Lewis, he's one of my favorite authors.