Accepting Change In 2016 – From Surviving To Thriving

Changes in our business and relationships are happening faster now than ever before. Our first response is often, “This is terrible!” or “Now what?” and “So all my success will be forgotten?” and “Great, another new boss or team?” As we keep saying these things,  we drive our thoughts and actions towards doubt, fear and pessimism.

Several years ago, I had to lay off about half my team in a “black October – “rightsizing” – it was so brutal! My boss came to my office to console me, to ask me how I was and how my team was processing the changes. He said, “And I also came here to let you know your job has been eliminated.” I could stay at the company in lower level job, or I could resign. He said, “I’d like you to stay, but the choice is yours, and I will need to know your decision in a few hours so I can announce the new organization at the company meeting. I went home and as I walked in my wife said, “Oh good, you’re home early. How did your team handle the changes?”

Event   +     Response =     Outcome

Why do we extensively complain, whine and fuss? – because those responses worked great when we were kids! As adults, we tend to react the same way we did when we were kids, but that doesn’t work well for us as adults.   

  • As leaders with our own values and desires, we grow and learn through change, instead of letting change define us.
  • Those of us who are best at handling change are learning that if we can’t change our thinking, we can’t change anything.
  • If we can’t change the event, we have to change the way we look at the event itself.
  • A true leader’s response to change is less reactive and more about analyzing and rebuilding.  

The sooner we think through the negative options and begin focusing on what we want, the more those positive responses become our new reality. Or, we can risk zapping our precious energy and strength on negative thoughts and actions, in the end only leading us to worse outcomes. In turn, this pessimistic attitude freezes us in unproductive thoughts, words and actions.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are forced to change ourselves” – Viktor Frank

Here are 6 speed gears, courtesy of Jan Holvud, that can help you become a Leading Change Agent:

  1. Stay involved: Whether you’re a high-profile superstar or an unsung hero, the work you do contributes to a greater good. Know your role and purpose and lean into greater sacrifice as part of that greater good. Even if you aren’t sure how it benefits you – it can be a great opportunity to facility incredible learning – and the value may be years from now. If you back off in the face of change, important connections and communication lines start to fade away. Instead of withdrawing, refocus and target “excellence.” In every aspect of your job, ask yourself “If someone else were looking at my work, would they consider it to be excellent?” Set simple and achievable daily goals and track them, so that you can hold yourself accountable.
  1. Keep an eye on the big picture: Even though there is turmoil in the workplace, there are many people around you creating, innovating and aspiring to the next great success. Watch what is happening, ask questions, be curious, and be part of it.
  1. Talk and listen: Stay in the positive leadership triangle, not in the drama triangle.  We become what we say and hear, and if the environment or tone goes toxic, it may be time to move to another conversation.
  1. Look for ways to be of value: Think of it this way – It’s one thing to identify a problem, it’s something else to solve it. Most leadership development programs have self-awareness as a foundational starting point. That practice is equally valid in the face of change. Knowing our strengths and weaknesses gives us a better idea of how to adapt as needed.
  1. Be flexible: Look for ways to blend changes into your normal routine. Think in terms of creating new traditions or new systems.
  1. Learn from your network: Since your network of contacts are probably facing similar changes, they serve as a sounding board as well as a safety net. Surround yourself with Encouraging Eddies and avoid the Debbie Downers!

So, in my “black October” story … did I stay? Yes, and I was thrilled as it led to a new path full of rich learning, development, promotion, recognition and people for my future!

Every choice we make based on our values is the right choice, regardless of the events!


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