How well are you managing change and disruption caused by COVID-19? Listen to my interview on “The Evolutionary Power of Change and Disruption” with Gwilda Wiyaka, host of Mission Evolution Radio, and learn what you can do to feel secure in insecure times.
It’s 4 a.m. and you are wide awake, worrying about all the bad things that could happen, feeling anxious, and unable to sleep. The fear you are feeling is self-imposed instead of a reaction to what is actually happening because at the present moment you are safe. There is nothing to be afraid of other than the imaginary reality that you have allowed the power of fear to create in your mind.
Sleeping at 4 a.m. is not easy when you are living in the misery of uncertainty, as many of us are with all that is happening in our external world plus our internal imagination-induced fears, We do not like the feeling of being out of control of our life and we do not like being in a position not knowing what’s going to happen next. We need to fill in the blanks. When you are awake at 4 a.m., you probably are not imagining a happy future and will likely fill in the blanks with what you fear will happen instead of what you desire to happen. You easily become trapped in a fear-driven thought cycle instead of a faith-driven cycle focused on pleasurable possibilities.
In 2020 we are faced with very real threats to our health and financial security that many of us have never experienced and never thought we would. This has been a rapid unexpected and unwanted change that we must deal with. Fear prevents us from thinking clearly about what we can do to minimize the threat to our wellbeing. It renders us helpless and blinds our vision to what we can do to stay healthy and keep the money flowing to keep a roof over our head and food on the table.
Although we do not like being in an undefined place between the past and the future, that is where we live. It is called the present moment. And, as you know, it is all you ever really control. If you once thought you had created a secure, controllable, and predictable life for yourself, you may be realizing that this was an illusion. There is much that is beyond our control and nothing stays the same forever.
The Transitions Curve Model is commonly used to illustrate the different phases –and emotions- we experience as we move through the transition process that is triggered by change.
Change is an event. Transition is the process of adapting to what is different because of the change.
Transition is triggered by an ending. Something we once had we no longer do. A way of living, thinking, and/or feeling has changed – and changed us in the process.
This may or may not be a change for the better. If we didn’t choose to make the change, we aren’t likely to believe it is a good change. But, even when we choose to change, there is still no guarantee that the choice we’ve made will bring us what we expected. Either way, we still experience a time of transition until we accept what has ended and embrace what is new.
From the moment you realize change is inevitable to the moment you begin to feel comfortable again, you experience an in-between and uncomfortable time of transition. For a time, you’re carrying both the weight of the past and uncertainty about the future. It may feel like a huge stone tied to your back, making it difficult to move forward.
There will be moments when you feel exhilarated about new opportunities change creates. And then, there will be moments filled with fear about what lies before you that makes it difficult to keep going.
As you begin walking a different path, you will likely encounter obstacles to overcome, barriers to breakthrough and challenges that could make you consider running back to the world you left behind. But, there is no ‘going back’ to go back to. Every change you experience changes you. You are not the person you use to be and you are not yet the person you have the potential to become.
There are actions you can take during this in-between time to make your roller coaster ride through transition triggered by unexpected change a little smoother:
The lessons I’ve learned, from the past twenty-five years of working with senior leadership of Fortune 500 corporations to prepare for enterprise-wide change, can help you avoid mistakes that can prevent your change initiative from succeeding.
There are six critical requirements for success:
Understanding of the Full Impact to the Organization
Effective Stakeholder Engagement
Clear, Consistent and Continual Communication
A Plan to Sustain
We will focus on one requirement in each of the next six blogs as a step you can take to minimize resistance, increase readiness, and realize the benefits of a successful change initiative. Together, they can serve as a checklist to evaluate the current status of your project.
Step One, Shared Vision, was the focus of my previous article. We will now shift our focus to Step Two:Understanding the Full Change Impact to the Organization
Have you identified the degree and type of changes required to realize your project’s benefits?
If not, how can people be prepared when you haven’t determined what type of change to prepare them for?
There is no such thing as a “small” change. Change has a ripple effect that is often underestimated. A change in technology will require a change in process that will affect how and where work is done.
The third step on the path to success is to effectively engage stakeholders. A stakeholder is anyone who will experience change because of your project or who has the ability to influence the outcome of your project. The keywords here are impact and influence.
The Impact Assessment, described in Step 2, is a tool to identify the type and degree of change and the areas and individuals affected. You can identify the high influence stakeholders by asking who has the power – whether formal or informal – to prevent your project from achieving success. Your Stakeholder Engagement Plan established the timeline, defines key objectives and describes the approach to involving the high impact/high influence stakeholders throughout the project.
Communication alone is not sufficient to achieve the level of support and preparation high impact/high influence stakeholders require for your project to be successful. Engaging the right stakeholders at the right time in the right way creates an opportunity for them to take ownership of the outcome. They become part of what is happening instead of an observer or a victim of what will be different. We are less likely to resist what we have a voice in creating.
Here’s a quiz to help you identify behaviors that may be undermining your self-confidence and preventing you from living the life you desire. Respond with a simple “yes” or “no” answer to each statement and then tally up the number of yeses.
1. I often compare myself to others.
2. I make decisions based on what others tell me I should do.
3. I would have to honestly say I sometimes take my family for granted.
4. I find myself thinking more about the past or worrying more about the future instead of focusing on what’s happening in the present moment.
5. I often give up on my goals when things aren’t going my way.
6. I believe that if I do something less than perfectly, I’ve failed.
7. I play it safe. Taking risks is not for me.
8. I sometimes believe I will never fall in love, and if I do it won’t last.
9. I used to dream about the life I wanted, but not anymore. Dreams are a waste of time.
10. I’m always rushing to get things done and seldom have time to “smell the roses.”
Did you respond with “yes – that describes me” – to more than 2 or 3? It’s ok if you did because there’s no pass or fail. The purpose of the quiz is to increase your awareness of thoughts and behaviors you can change that will make a positive difference in how you see yourself and react to those around you.
The quiz is based on one of my favorite poems by Nancye Sims called “A Creed to Live By.” I’m including it below, followed by a modified version that exams each statement and thoughts triggered for me that changed my thinking and put me on the path to experience a more fulfilling life. I hope they will help you as well.
“It’s never too late to become what you might have been.”
When Joe’s manager began the conversation by saying: “I want you to know how grateful we are for your twenty years of valuable service to our company,” Joe expected to hear that he was being promoted, or at least receiving a pay increase. After all, his performance reviews had never been less than stellar.it came as a shock when what he heard next was: “our company is moving in a new direction and unfortunately your skills aren’t the skills we need. We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.”
It was a defining moment when Joe realized that doing a good job no longer guarantees that you’ll keep your job.
I was a shy sixteen years old, afraid of my own shadow, the summer I worked as a Nurse’s Aide at our local hospital. The Director of Nursing was a strong loud woman that I found very intimidating. Whenever I saw her coming I would turn and go the other direction, or look for someplace to hide.
One day she stopped beside me, put her arm around my shoulder, and said: “I want you to look at my shoes.”
I immediately thought there must be something wrong with my shoes. They were the wrong kind. They weren’t as white as hers. They weren’t laced up correctly. I was literally “shaking in my shoes,” expecting to be criticized or reprimanded. Instead, her words taught me a valuable lesson in leadership that has served me well in my career.
One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.
I’ve read many versions of the fable about an eagle who thought he was a chicken and have been unable to find the original source. Dr. Eldon Taylor, author of “Choices and Illusions,” Has an inspiring U-Tube video about the fable that can serve as a “pick-me-up” if you’re having a day when you don’t feel capable of soaring.
I love this story because I believe it illustrates how our life is either limited or expanded by both our day-to-day environment and the limiting beliefs we hold about who we are capable of becoming.
The fable also shows how one individual, who sees the potential we cannot see for ourselves, can provide the push we need to become what we’ve always been capable of being.