Change is everywhere and happening all the time. You can fight it, resist it, hate it and fear it, but change occurs rapidly regardless of how we feel about it. For instance, your spontaneous boss moves up your performance review to… today. Butterflies and nerves ensue! Or your spouse just took a great promotion and now you are moving to Spain. Suddenly, your heart is racing, and your mind is reeling as you wonder, can I cope? How will I make it through this?
So, it’s not a matter of whether or not you want to embrace it, but rather, knowing that the best way you can manage the unforeseen is an inside job.
Changes in the Workplace: Survival of the “Fittest Mind”
What’s an average workday for just about every professional? Swimming in a sea of changes, unplanned ‘fire drills’ and shifts in strategic direction. And how we respond to those dynamics actually boils down to our perception and the innate need to be in control of our environment. One model that has seen a rise in popularity is based on the military acronym – VUCA– Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. The more complex and volatile an industry is, for example, the harder to predict and steer through the uncertainty.
Two common characteristics that often lead to the successful navigation of everyday life — including change — are self-awareness and self-regulation.
When someone comes to me in a coaching setting and says, “it’s just the way I am,” I know that person’s opportunities are going to be limited by design. Having a “fixed mindset” means that a person has the belief that they can’t be changed… that their personality and their outlook is rigid and impermeable.
According to Ralph Lewis, M.D. assistant professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, “we will more readily explain away evidence that contradicts our cherished belief.” In a fixed mindset, we’ll “expand and elaborate that belief with additional layers of distorted explanation, rather than abandon it or fundamentally restructure it.”
On the other hand, I’m always thrilled to meet someone who is curious, ready to change, and has a “growth mindset.” They’re fully aware of their blind spots, but they have the desire to learn and grow, despite any roadblocks. They see life as an adventure, and whatever comes their way, they can handle it. Even if they would have preferred not to, they can loosen their grip and go with the flow.
Can you see the difference between resistance and persistence? Who would you rather have on your team… someone who tolerates or someone who collaborates when the chips are down?
Changes in our Personal Life: The Unthinkable Plot Twist
There’s change… and then there’s unimaginable change. The kind that you can’t prepare for and, for all we know, is lasting and permanent.
As a young widow, my life turned upside down. Every single thing that I had accepted as my future path was challenged. Now, four years later, I still long for and miss my husband and the father of my children. However, riding the waves of change has taught me more about myself than I ever would have been able to learn if life had not taken such a dramatic twist.
Agility is the answer to life. As a teacher of mine says, “Develop a ‘don’t know’ mindset.” Because in reality, we may think we have the perfect path and the perfect plan, but what is perfect today is flawed tomorrow. The choice is always yours. Are you going to cave and be terrified while clamping down and trying to preserve what you THINK is the safe way through life? Or are you going to lean in and follow the stream and be ready to go where it takes you?
How exactly do you do that?
Exude Acceptance and Presence.
Accept that you don’t know what’s going to happen in your life, career, marriage, etc. So as cliché as it sounds (cliché, yet simple and profound) be in the moment. That means, know that you can meet each moment with excellence. Embrace what’s there rather than fighting against reality and trying to bring back what YOU thought should happen. The “meek shall inherit the earth” doesn’t mean roll over or get steamrolled. It means to accept what is without fear or anger.
I often ask participants in my workshops, “Who here has gone through something incredibly painful in their life?” Every hand shoots up. Then I ask, “Did you survive?” People chuckle but get it. Of course, they survived.
But the real question is, “What did you learn about yourself?” Every single person says, “I am stronger than I thought” or some version of that. And the more we realize that and trust that’s true, the more we know that NOTHING can truly destroy us. There are many terrifying possibilities I absolutely do not want to have happen in my life (one which did), but I do trust that I can handle it, even if I would rather not.
So, if you’re clinging to a wish that things will go your way, how about shifting that sentiment? “I hope things go the way I want, but they might turn out even better than I envisioned. I can’t wait to see what happens next!”
Build a “Flexibility” Practice.
At Hello, we say “bend, don’t crack when change is required.” It all starts with your ability to adapt to different circumstances – and even welcome them with open arms.
Here’s a few “mindset resets” to help weather any storm:
- Accept that the speed of change is not likely to change.
- Remember that flexibility is the ability to see options.
- Take a different perspective when looking at challenges; be able to stretch and shift so that you can see all of your choices and make the best decision in that moment.
- If you don’t flex to your changing circumstances at work or home, your rigidity could be what cracks your results.
Believe it or not, March 30th has been declared “National I Am in Control Day.” It’s a day that acknowledges our “out of control” feelings and the fact that we all have the power to declutter our minds and organize the world around us.
So, won’t you join us?
Hello’s Change Management Program uses our exclusive 4S Conversations® model as the foundation to address your company’s particular challenges and needs.
Take a tour of our class today… and learn how to manage change better, both personally and professionally.
Now, look who’s in control… YOU, my dear friends!
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