Thought for the Month

February 2010 Newsletter

‘Change is the only constant’ is a phrase that we all need to get more comfortable with.  I know easier said than done, you may say and I would agree with you.  However, like it or not change is a little like time – it marches on – it is going to happen – it’s always happening.

Some people are more comfortable with change that others, but this is something we can work on, with a little effort.  In our personal lives, as in business, we are affected by variables outside our control and in many cases we end up having to pick up the pieces.  But if we accept that change is going to happen and expect that it, we can begin to prepare ourselves to work with it.

Achieving personal and performance success must start with the thought that we are not as successful in some areas as we would like to be.  This acknowledgement pushes us further and on to the next stage: looking at what we are going to do about it? Or what we are prepared to do about it?  The real question is ‘to change or not to change?’

If we want more success and to achieve our goals, we have to be prepared to change – yes, there’s that word again.  As I advise many of my clients, if you want to go from one room to another, you have to change both your position and your focus’.

“We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” Max DePee

Another one of my regularly used phrases is ‘life is about planning’. But, I hear you say, you cannot always plan for change: and you are correct. But you can plan to work on your response to change.

“I am convinced that life is 1% what happens to me and 99% how I react to it.” Charles Swindoll.

My husband disagrees with the percentages,he thinks its more like 10%/90%, but here are 6 tips to get you thinking about how you will deal with change.  I hope these will help you in planning to master or at the very least learn to live more positively with change.

1. How do you personally look at (or feel about) change?  Success and change go hand in hand

You see, I believe that to deal positively and constructively with change we must start by looking internally – from a personal and individual point of view. We need to assess were we are on the matter.

If we do not change, we may we get left behind.  This is the case for us as individuals, as well as for business.

As individuals the current economic climate has shown that we have to be prepared to be flexible.  Many people all over world, who unfortunately have lost their jobs, will now be looking for new ones and some will have realised that they need to retrain if they are going to find one. They will have to make a change.

“The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want and, if they can’t find them, make them.” George Bernard Shaw

In business, we need to keep up with the latest technology, improve our efficiency by doing things better and leaner; even if we are already good. We need to come up with new ideas and innovations to keep us ahead of our competitors and delight our customers.

I agree that too much change, too often will result in frustration, negativity and basic exhaustion.  So for all you managers out there, it is important to remember to plan and to stagger your plans for change; at the very least have a clear strategy for the change and its implementation.   Keep the people around you informed and up to date with what is happening and why (take your people with you).  We should not engage in change just for the sake of it, but there should be a clear reason; the benefits and objective should be clear and the process defined.

2. If you think that you struggle with change, one tip that works is to plan to do something new every day or at the very least once a week. This will help you to gradually become more comfortable with doing something different – more comfortable with change. It will also help you to develop more flexibility.

3. Another tip is to learn something new. Have you always wanted to learn another language or learn more about computers or to paint or draw or even to visit another part of the country?  Then do it.  Learning new things fires up the brain, which in turn increases creativity.

4. Make an honest assessment of your instinctive responses to change. Is your response reactive proactive or evasive?  Be honest with yourself and if your reaction is not as positive as would be necessary to help you response well to change, do something about it.

You may need to delve further into your inner beliefs to identify what your motivations are. In other words to find out what you are afraid of (if you response is resistance).  When people respond negatively to change it is usually due to a fear of something.  Some people see change as a positive thing; some people see change as negative. The reason for our responses will be found in our values and beliefs.

5. Be flexible. What does this mean? Be supple, pliable, stretchable or workable. Flexibility is the ability to see things from a number of view points; to be able to identify a number of possibilities and to be willing to try any to see the outcome, even it that might not be easy. However, the plus side of a little discomfort is that we learn new things and have new experiences, than if we did not start the adventure. So I see change as a possible new adventure. It is all in how you see it really.

6. Get some help. There is no shame at all in admitting that we need some help or support to get us moving through a situation.  Actually I believe it shows strength of character to ask for help and to be honest with ourselves and others, as to where we are in our lives or business at this moment.

Help is the most general term for acting in such a way as to make it easier for someone else to do something or, more generally, to make their life more comfortable.

Sometimes it is hard for us to see what is really holding us back.  It may also be hard for us see how we can make the changes that we need, by ourselves.  Part of what makes us human is that we need others.  We are social beings and need to work and associate with others. Helping each other is part of our social make up.

So if you need help identifying your response to change and developing a plan to help you address change, either for yourself or your business, be kind to yourself and get some help.  By taking this step you would have already started moving forward – you would have started to take control of change.

Manage change, don’t let change manage you.

Sandra Pollock

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