How To Effectively Navigate Change

How To Effectively Navigate Change

How To Effectively Navigate Change

By Mark Wager

"If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading." - Lao Tzu

Change happens whether we like it or not, the world and our place within the world is constantly changing. If we what to be successful in life or in business then we need to be prepared to effectively navigate change when it occurs.

Change is easy but getting the change we want is difficult. For example each and every year millions of people around the world make New Year resolutions. Whatever the change they seek, whether it be a desire to lose weight, find a new job, start a new relationship or to earn more money, people make a public commitment to change, yet how many are successful? Of all the people who make New Year resolutions only 8% are successful and the remaining 92% fail but why? What does the 8% do that the 92% don't. I've coached individuals and teams around the world and I've seen certain differences in attitude that people who successfully navigate through change adopt that others don't and I want to take this opportunity to share these differences so you too can get the change you want.

Take complete ownership of everything within your control

If you want to successfully navigate through change, the first thing you need to do is to take ownership of everything within your control. If you want a successful outcome then it's your responsibility and no one else's and even if the change you are experiencing is being forced onto you then you still have control over how you feel. People and situations may influence you but how you feel is a decision that you and no one else makes.

When I deliver individual coaching it's clear within the first few minutes of the conversation if the person I'm working with has a winning attitude or not. Winners don't make excuses. You never hear them blame anyone else. As far as they are concerned their success is so important to them that they take full ownership. Every time you wake up you have a decision to be positive or negative, regardless of how you feel inside you have to make a decision which attitude is going to give you a better chance of succeeding, a positive one or a negative one? The answer is obvious, so be positive and take ownership of everything within your control. This is the start of creating the future you want.

Find the real reason to change

There's always a reason to change but successful people find the reason that works on the instinctual level. Even though as human beings each and everyone of us is unique we all share the same fundamental instincts that drives our behaviours and motivation. One of these instincts is the drive to seek comfort and avoid pain. We are fundamentally wired to seek self-preservation so as a result we avoid pain. The best way to create an environment to navigate change is to ensure the change addresses a current pain. This needs to be the basis of your need to change.

While it's often thought that pleasure or happiness is the key motivator for successful change its not as effective as the avoidance of pain. One of the most common New Year resolutions is the desire to lose weight and become healthier and no one will doubt the fact that losing weight and being healthier will result in you not only living a happier life but also a longer one. Yet this almost guaranteed outcome of more happiness is not enough, it's because we want happiness but we want to avoid pain more so the majority of people end up in a state of comfort. Our instincts exist in order to guide us to safety and not to greatness. If you want to succeed then you need to find and focus on the pain that the current situation will take you through and use that as motivation to get the change you want.

Find the reason to believe

There's one thing to want to change but it's nothing without the belief that the change can happen and if the change is being forced onto you then you need to believe a successful outcome is possible otherwise you will end up in a demotivated state. It's at this stage when if you are not careful your instincts can work against you. It's easy to be fearful of the future as the future has many variables making it an unknown quantity. Our desire for self preservation steers us towards the comfortable path and if the present is comfortable then there will be a little voice inside you trying to convince you not to embrace the change.

When I deliver leadership training to teams they are typically good teams that want to be great and it's rare that I get called in to deal with poor performing teams. This is because the motivation to go from bad to good is clear and obvious because the pain is present yet when things are good it requires a different form of motivation than being comfortable in a natural state. You need to have a clear undeniable belief that the desired state is possible and this can only be achievable if there's a detailed plan in place. Never forget if you fear the future it's because you do not have enough information so your mind is trying to fill in the blanks and when it does, it does so through the lens of staying in a comfortable state that makes any concerns greatly exaggerated. Information is the enemy of fear. Your plan needs to have a brief strategy, robust tactics and specific habits that will create a clear link between the daily behaviours and the overall strategy. Every great journey is made up of a multitude of small steps and once we know these small steps then belief will be established and your ideal change will be realised.

Heraclitus once wrote that the only constant is change. Without change we never grow as people and if we don't grow then we can never live a life to its fullest. The key is to embrace change and to mould the future so that it's a future that you want.

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Posted: Monday 11 July 2016


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