Change has been around for a long time. It is argued that if there was an actual start to the universe, it was the first change, and the instigator of all other changes to come.
Yet after all these years of successfully handling change, many of us still ‘struggle’ with it. This impacts us in business, volunteering, education, personal relationships, our bodies … EVERYTHING!
Here are a handful of thoughts that have helped me work with change.
- Accept that it is a necessary component for growth.
I often talk about this topic in workshops and begin by listing some of the more popular synonyms for change – Adapt, adjust, growth, help, improve, maximize, polish, progress, refine, transform, tweak, update, and many more. One of the biggest challenges with change begins with our attitude towards it.
As you read the rest of this article, substitute the word ‘change’ with any of your favorite of these synonyms. You’ll see that even this slight alteration will enhance your perception of the word change.
Our thoughts and actions up to this point have brought us precisely to our current situation. If we want a different situation, we must change.
- Identify what needs changing (as well as what doesn’t).
Everything starts with a dream. Temporarily escape the grips of logic, sensory input, and rational thinking to design an ideal version of what you would like. Like an architect, complete the design down to the finest details like the plates that cover light switches.
Only once we have a clear concept of what we want can we begin to overlay it with current stipulations of time or other resource. From here it will be easy to decide what to eliminate and what needs to be added.
- Build connections to change through communication.
Two reasons people struggle to buy into change: they either didn’t have enough input/influence; or they have not received enough (quantity or quality) information about the scope and impact the change.
Communication is the best way to remedy or escape this challenge. Use it to build connections and champions for pending changes. Other members will take social cues from them whether they are on your side or not.
- Prepare a runway and flight plan.
Before receiving permission to take off, pilots are required to file formal plans of when and where they anticipate landing as well as the path they intend to take. Take a tip from plots and provide your people with a change plan so they can see a larger scope of the changes, what is specifically up next, and where they fit in. This will help build trust and confidence.
Be sure to fill the change plan with plenty spots to check in with crew and deliver positive reinforcement for progress being made.
- Systemize and Refresh.
The job of the runway is to provide an ideal environment to build the speed that makes flight possible and stable. Systems go a long way in helping us build crucial momentum. But as we get more efficient at tasks, it can get easy to allow lazy errors to also become habit.
Refreshing the plan is about adding new, small, and easy elements as we go along. The key is in the timing and balance. Keep the updates far enough apart that people can build momentum, yet not develop ruts and lethargy. Keep them small enough that progress isn’t stopped, yet large enough that progress can still be made.
Now that you have a few solid tools to handle change, you have 2 challenges.
The first is to implement them in your own life and situations to the point that they are a part of your everyday thoughts. I cannot claim full ownership of these ideas as they were shared with me by various mentors. Yet, after decades of living with and refining them, they are truly my own.
The second is to share them with others. One great way to share them is by being a living example. People will ask you how you handle it at some of the oddest of times and situations. Without sounding like a promoter, feel free to share, tweet, link, copy/paste, etc. to others. The fact exists that change will not stop. The better we are at handling it, the better we will grow.
Always looking forward