Change happens whether you want it to or not
This is the way of the universe. Either you make the change or something is going to make the change for you often times in a way you don’t like.
Yes, change is inevitable. The cherry tree turns green with leaves, then buds form, then the cherry blossoms bloom into vibrant color, then the flowers and leaves fall off and the cycle repeats itself. The cherry tree cannot prevent this change from occurring.
Sometimes change is thrust upon us by outside events and other people that we had no control over. In other cases, the choices we have made put us in a situation that cries out for change though we may resist it. In either case, the force of change relentlessly moves forward.
While we can’t prevent change, we can control how we respond to those changes and the choices we make following them. We can improve our journey through life by becoming the force of change instead of the roadblock to change. No matter how an organization we work for has changed or what is happening, the choices we make about how we respond and react to this change make all the difference in the world.
It all starts with how we see the situations unfolding. We can either look at change as something to avoid at all cost or an opportunity to flow with the currents and move forward.
My first experience when a company went through a major change
I remember when I was the inside sales supervisor for the nation’s largest distributor of bicycles and parts from Japan. The company had been growing very rapidly and my department now had three people reporting to me. The department handled all calls from customers who either needed to buy something or had a problem. It also provided service to all the sale representatives across the country. For house accounts where there was no representative, the order desk called them regularly.
Then the company’s credit became over extended and the bank stepped in. Yes, even fast growing companies can get into financial trouble by not managing cash flow and taking on too much credit too quickly. The bank appointed an outsider to act as a temporary CEO and get the company back on track. Of course, the first thing this acting CEO did was look at every way possible to slash cost.
My very busy department of four suddenly turned into a department of one….me! I now had to do all the work that four of us were doing before. Of course the officers of the company did help out. If I was on the phone with a customer, the call would be routed to a vice president who would personally take the order and then give it to me to get all the details right.
While everyone was pitching in, you can imagine how traumatic this was and how much it changed my workday. I was almost literally chained to my desk all day to handle those calls. Had to eat my lunch at my desk every day. Had to arrive at work earlier and stay later. Had to handle all the credit returns from customers on Saturday because there was no time during the week. Had to initiate a cold call effort into areas the company currently didn’t serve to help build sales volume fast. Talk about a change!
I’ve been through my share of changes during my career. I’ve also helped clients with change initiatives, reorganizations and acquisitions. Some people dig in and fight to hold onto what once was. Others can become filled with anxiety about an unknown future.
Those who simply accept the reality and figure out how to go with the flow of it in the best way possible are ones who not only survive these changes, they thrive as a result of them. When we embrace the change, we help to make things better and become a part of the solution. We learn more about ourselves, other people and our organization. We discover we have more potential than we realized and use that to make things better for ourselves and our organization.
Change is what we make of it. The choice is up to us.
Overcoming Our Barriers To Change
We have several human barriers to change that we need to address to get in the flow.
1. Our comfort zone
This where things are good enough that we don’t want to spend the time or effort to change them. We can live with what we have.
Comfort zones are also about our attachment to the way things are now. We can become emotionally attached to everything about our current situation, the way it works, the people in it and our daily routines. Changing any of this can feel like a loss. We don’t want to give up what we have to begin something new and different.
Yet the force of change continues to beat its drum. The longer we hold onto these attachments, the longer we stay within our comfort zone, the more difficult the change will be for us. The world continues to change around us.
As we hold onto this place longer and longer, it begins to fray at the edges and then starts falling apart. There is no way to stop the change. If we learn to embrace change and let go quicker, life works better at all levels. Now we are in the flow.
2. Fear of the unknown
We may prefer a less than ideal situation we understand than a new situation that we don’t know enough about. What surprises lurk around the corner? Will it really be better? What will happen to our job and career?
Once again, if we hold onto our current situation for too long, it will deteriorate and we won’t be able to hold onto to what we did like about it. The earlier you can move on the better because you’re going to have to move on, the more you can influence what happens in the future.
3. Lack of awareness
We can hold onto what we have for too long out of ignorance. Whatever we don’t know can hold us back and hurt us. Either out of comfort, fear or denial, we can too easily turn off to all the signs around us that change is about to break through our door like an avalanche.
Keep creating new windows from which to look at your world. Never accept your current view of the world as the only view. Get outside of your department and business unit sometimes. When new people start showing up at work, get to know them and understand them. Seek to build bridges of understanding with all the new people at all levels in your organization as quickly as possible.
Let new awareness help you to alter your view and motivate you to be the force of change at work and in your life.
Awareness unlocks our potential. As our awareness grows, so we grow.
Let’s return to our cherry tree. The level of air and nutrients in the soil, how well the tree is watered and pruned and how much sunlight it receives will all affect the quality of its bloom. The same is true for us.
- Prepare yourself to handle any change and turn it into something better for your life.
- Expand your knowledge about yourself, your work world and industry.
- Build new windows so you can see your world in a new way.
- Engage in new experiences that further expand your awareness.
- Keep taking in new information, ideas and experiences.
- Build bridges of understanding with everyone you can.
All of this will give you perspective to help you see all your options, move away from the past and move forward with confidence. The flow of new awareness shows us why we can’t stay attached to the past or hold back out of fear of the unknown.
While we can’t know what will happen in the future, we do know that the world we are trying to hold onto is changing faster than we realize. Moving into the unknown may be safer than staying with the past.
When you change yourself, the world starts changing with you.
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