Rick Forbus, PhD
Everything continues in a state of rest unless it is compelled to change by forces impressed upon it.
Leading through change is a task that most leaders resist. Honestly, change comes often, relentlessly and can be handled with positive power and confidence. One thing that will not change is that change will come. Much of what I recommend to my clients regarding change has to do with their view of change. Take some time to write down these life balances regarding how we experience change. We may experience:
o Unnecessary Emotional Reactions VS Empowering Emotions
o Imperfect Choices VS Flexibility
o Stress VS Relaxation
o Physical Illness VS Holistic Health
o Imbalances VS Balance
o Vagueness VS Awareness
o Negative Attitudes VS Positive Outlook
o Fragmentation VS Wholeness
o Passivity VS Action
Some of my clients want to talk at length about coping. But coping can mean muddling through, just getting away from it, dealing quickly with it, merely handling it or surviving change. Coping puts us in a reactionary and defensive stance and my experience is this can be a weak posture. This does not imply that some changes are not more complex and difficult than others. However, change should be addressed with a strategy than has been worked on in advance.
I found this three-point strategy in my notes.
A New Season Brings Changes
A New Season Brings Challenges
A New Season Exposes Champions
Remember that change and change-for-the-better are often two different things. Some of you like to just change for the sake of change. Others of you resist change at any cost. I have found that it is somewhere in the middle. I have never thought that change for no apparent reason was of much good to all involved. And, I am not a narrow minded cautious individual either. Change is disguised many times and should be viewed carefully. Take some time to examine why any certain change is coming and what is the best way to conquer it. Unmask your ominous changes by careful preparations of yourself.
Change is the watchword of progression. When we tire of well-worn ways, we seek for new. This restless craving in the souls of men spurs them to climb, and to seek the mountain view. Unknown Source
Someone has well said that there are certain stages to change.
Stages of Change
1. Resistance to change
2. Tolerant of change
3. Embrace the change
5 Kinds of Attitudes About Change
1. Early innovators (2.6%), run with new ideas
2. Early adaptors (13.4%), influenced by (1) but not initiators
3. Slow Majority (34%), the herd-followers
4. Reluctant Majority (34%)
5. Antagonistic (16%), they will never change
Why do we resist change?
The only people who seem to like change are busy cashiers and wet babies. We find change disorienting, creating in us an anxiety similar to meeting an important person for the first time, speaking to a group of unknown scholars or moving to a new city.
I led a leadership retreat recently for two days with the smartest group of assembled minds in my experience. There were MDs, PhDs and a couple of people with both of those degrees. The change before me was that I didn’t know them, they didn’t know me and they may question everything I had planned for our two days together. The change mostly was that although I work with brilliant teams often, this one was the smartest I had seen. Their cumulative resumes and education was staggering. I started by asking how many had MDs and PhDs. Then, my host said something like this, “Dr. Forbus, we have invited you because we need what you are presenting, don’t worry about the education and experience.” She was my hero! What appeared as a stressful change to my normal coaching experiences became refreshing and exhilarating. Change now was my friend.
Change is a personal and business fact of life.
Everybody thinks of changing humanity and nobody thinks of changing Himself. – L. Tolstoy
How do we resist change?
We tend to respond to change the same way we respond to anything we perceive as a threat: by flight or fight. Our first reaction may be flight. We may try to avoid change altogether, if we can. We consider cutting and running or choosing our weapons! If you have to choose which is worse, don’t choose either. If you choose flight or running away then you become change and conflict avoidant. To actively resist change is to delay the inevitable and cause undue anxiety, unease and apprehension. To fight or use other resistance tactics might include negativity, destructive criticism, and even sabotage. Most of us have to deal with both these options at some point in our business and life.
Attempt to take a different approach to change.
Consider the option to avoid the alternatives of flight or fight, run and gun, escape and attack. Could it be that the change before you right now is the means to a new life success? Change can be the means to your goals, not an obstacle or impediment to them. Both fight and flight are reactions to perceiving change as a threat.
If we can change our view, we can avoid the two extreme responses. Take a moment to consider that every change brings an opportunity to stretch, improve, grow stronger, become better, reach higher and find new possibilities! Another way of expressing this same thinking is: A change in my external state of affairs provides me with an opportunity to grow as a person. The greater the change is the greater and faster one can grow. If we can identify change along these lines, we will find it exhilarating and enlivening, rather than depressing and debilitating.
Realize your capacity to adapt.
Some people change their ways when they see the light, others only when they feel the heat.
Coaching is a fulfilling vocation. I get to spend many of my days helping people with career, leadership and life change. To get through change some preventive goals can be set to help prepare you. Actually, an on-going plan will strengthen you for inevitable change and prepare you internally for the external and internal changes to come. Let me give you a few coaching pointers to get you started on your preparing for change to come:
o Write down your 10-year, 5-year and 1-year goals in areas of your life like: (1) professional (job), (2) personal (family, friends, others), (3) education (continuing education, get that degree), (4) legacy (Who should you be mentoring? What am I leaving?), (5) life mission (spiritual, global concerns).
o List what you can do this week to prepare for changes to come. Consider things like finances, debt, your health and appearance, relationships, professional development and spiritual growth.
o Find an accountability partner to talk with you about life change in general. This can be calendared this week. Ask a friend for coffee and talk about changes they have gone thorough or are going through. Be honest about your fears of change, your present life changes and even your anticipated changes.
o Hire a coach!
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