With 93 posts focused on successfully executing your most difficult changes, a lot of territory has been covered in this blog. For an old student of change like me, keeping track of all the insights is in my DNA, but for most of my readers and those I work with, it can get overwhelming. To provide you with a quick reference, the next several posts are going to focus on providing an overview of the change journey, as well offering some critical reminders for each aspect of the trip. You can use the search function (or contact me) for additional information on any of the topics I cover.
Today I will focus on some key principles underlying every major change. Starting next week, we will review a model for the change journey.
First, it doesn’t matter whose change it is, or what type of change it is. Whether it was initiated at headquarters on the other side of the world; by your boss two desks away; by your spouse or life partner; by you; or by some life circumstance (accident, illness, death)…the principles that underlie how we respond to change are constant. One of the most important keys to change success is learning the principles. They don’t make you immune to the disruptions of change. However, they can lessen the surprises, and provide strong guidance on how to navigate the journey successfully.
Make the change yours. Don’t be a victim to it. Take control, whatever the source of the disruption. You will not always have control over the hand you are dealt; you can always decide how you want to play it. Remember, choice isn’t always between good and bad; sometimes you get to select between two (or more) good choices, and sometimes you have to select from among the bad ones. And, you have a choice, so make it intentionally.
Time is irreplaceable. That doesn’t mean “jump into action;” it does mean, don’t waste it.
No one has all the answers. You’re going to make mistakes…sometimes small ones, and sometimes mistakes that are huge. Own them. Learn from them. And let them go.
Try holding onto a railing, or door knob, or heavy piece of furniture with one hand then start walking away from where you are holding; you won’t get very far. Change requires us to let go so that we can move forward.
Letting go doesn’t mean letting go of everything. Even when it seems like “everything is changing,” it’s not. Be conscious of what you can hold onto, those things that will provide you with stability and direction during the change.
Things are changing outside your change. You will need to keep an eye “out there” even as you focus on the change. Whether it’s the markets you serve, the regulation of those markets, or the community you live in, socio-economic, or cultural shifts, if you’re not careful, you may find that you have successfully executed your change in terms of the destination you set out to reach…and the value (or other reasons for seeking it) are no longer achievable.
Communication is critical: with the right people, in the right way, at the right time. In the world of big change, there is no such thing as “flying solo.” Don’t just talk with those who are going to agree with you no matter what. Talk to those you respect, and those who will challenge your thinking. Talk to those who will encourage you to look at things through new and different lenses. Talk with people who can mentor or coach you. Not every lesson has to be learned the hard way; learn from those who have traveled similar paths before, those who know how to navigate the path you are taking.
Be intentional about maintaining balance, setting boundaries, and ensuring that you take the time to relax and have fun. Our bodies, our minds, and our psyches require recharging every bit as much as our mobile devices. While change is less draining when it is driven by something we believe in, it is still draining. Don’t set yourself up to “crash and burn.” That’s going to set the change back more than making the time for renewal.
If you aren’t passionate about it and the change is big, you may struggle through it, but you will never truly thrive as a result of it. There is more and more research supporting the importance of passion…in our careers as well as in our personal lives. Invest your change energy in things you are passionate about. If the change is driven from outside–you have no choice but to make a change–choose a path forward that you passionately want to make successful. As I wrote in an early blog, when life gives you lemons, you don’t have to make lemonade; personally, I figure out how to take the opportunity to make cherry pie a la mode.
What are some of the other critical lessons you have learned about change along the way? Share them below.