Coping with change
There’s an old saying, “If you do not create change, change will create you.” I don’t know many people in business or in their personal lives who like change. Most of us resist change, although change itself is constant. No matter whether we resist or avoid change, it enters our lives just the same. It’s easier to adapt to change when you initiate it. According to Alan Deutschman, author of Change or Die, what really inspires positive change is hope, not fear.
A business and life coach friend touts that if there’s a single skill that separates the successful executive/entrepreneur from the “also-rans” it’s the mastery of change. He says that the big winners in business are the ones who don’t fear change but instead relish it with gusto. They accept and embrace the dance and the possible “razzle-dazzle” of change.
When confronted by sudden change that affects our jobs or our personal lives, many react with fear and dread. It’s not easy for some to remember that change is at the very heart of moving a company (or personal life) forward. It’s what keeps a company alive and creates new jobs.
When discussing change with some friends, one commented that even unplanned and unexpected changes are not all bad but can be a path to growth. Since I got my own unplanned and unexpected change when I was in an auto accident this past January, I’m experiencing — firsthand — the bitter and the better.
I’m looking for ways to grow and learn from this experience and all the changes that are occurring with it. I’m learning to adapt to new situations and as a result I’m better equipped to deal with most things that come down the pike. It’s the same with changes in business. It is said that to change the culture of an organization you must get everyone to change. My accident has led to a forced change in our company’s leadership. While I’m still owner and president, my daughter, Janet, has assumed the role of CEO and she’s creating wonderful changes that all our team members are happily working toward.
We’ve hired a consultant and coach to help with this transition and after just a few weeks in I’m wondering why we waited so long for this change? Hmmm, guess I was resisting.
The risks of not changing include missing opportunities. According to my coach friend, today’s managers have to learn to love and celebrate change. Here are some of his suggestions:
- Look for growth and learning new lessons every time something changes. You can discover new insights about different aspects of your business and personal life. Some lessons may lead to circumstances you never dreamed possible. Changes that go along with these lessons can result in greater self-confidence in life and work situations.
- Be flexible. Frequent changes help us to adapt to new situations, new surroundings, and meeting and working with new folks. When change is more frequent, it gets easier to deal with the unexpected.
- Try for constant improvement. Everyone has things in work and in life that they want to improve such as finances, education, social status, home/living situation, etc. Nothing improves by itself. I’m reminded of the old adage that if you do the same thing over and over expecting a different result … well you know the answer to that.
- Business and life culture and values. Change makes us reevaluate our life and the way we do things. It’s the same in business. Change makes leaders and team members reevaluate the way things are done. Positive changes come from reevaluating.
- Don’t give up. Some folks give up when change can’t be accomplished quickly. My mother used to say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” It’s hard to be patient when you want change to be effective yesterday. The coach’s advice is to change a little, often. This will keep your company (or life) from turning into a fossil. One tiny change at a time can lead to major differences in the way you operate. Small changes lead to progress.
- Overcome obstacles. No matter how well you plan for change, obstacles happen. Dig in and find ways to get around the stop signs.
- Opportunities await. Change brings new choices. Being open minded and willing to change will help you see the opportunities.
- Shake it up! Many successful companies make a practice of regularly shaking things up — systems, reorganizing departments, reevaluating workers’ duties, putting the right people in the right jobs, reinventing the company.
- Remember what creates success. Maintain the atmosphere for team members to take risks, develop their creativity, and innovate. Change plays a big role in those things.
- Give yourself permission to embrace, love, and enjoy change. Whether or not you accept change is strictly your choice.
- Change can be okay when you see all the good things that come with it.
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