Whether we accept an idea or reject an idea, we make a choice. Choice-making over time builds habits and preferences that operate on autopilot. When we realize we are unsatisfied with the outcomes of our autopilot choices we are often already suffering. Can you imagine yourself replacing that cycle with more deliberate change? I can for you because every person constructs their belief system that motivate those choices. That means we can deconstruct and reconstruct to pursue more relevant and valuable choices that better match our current experience versus our history. In this blog I offer a belief shift for more ease with change and how to start that shift process with four easy steps.
Give it a try!
If you are reading this sentence, you didn't let the skeptical voice inside your mind reject the title. You are in good company when you accept an often-spoken statement as an unchangeable truth, "Change is hard." I've wondered about this subject for all of my professional life because, true confessions, I don't hold this belief. I've witnessed many people's pain and suffering as they decide how to approach and navigate change. Even the most straightforward declarations that change is constant and regular seem to recede as irrelevant to the conversation because it challenges this calcified belief, "change is hard." For example, the cycles of nature, sunrise, sunset, and the movement through seasons offer evidence of ease. Or how about the daily sleep and awake cycles and the aging of the human body over a lifetime? Despite these evident and daily occurrences, our tremendous human capacity to be resourceful and innately creative for ease in change gets dismissed in the moment of facing change in our lives.
Ease in change can be a choice available to every person in any situation. I am dedicated to finding ways for everyone to lead themselves and those who lead teams and organizations to embrace a belief shift that replaces suffering with renewal and resilience. The stakes are very high, and therein lies the roots of the belief and the reason the belief sustains despite evidence to the contrary. I acknowledge that even the most compelling data sets about the cost of inaction or the opportunity cost to gross revenue growth become white noise. Many leaders prefer to ignore rather than embrace a new belief. That new belief, "I choose ease in change," could become the source of courage to shift mindsets and actions. Yet so many wait until the pain becomes unbearable to relinquish their grip on not changing.
The Conference Board released their CHRO (Chief Human Resource Officer) Confidence Index findings this week: "Strengthening the employee experience and organizational culture is a top priority for HR leaders, with 75% citing it as a human capital management priority."
My question for all leaders in any function is this: when isn't this a priority, and why is that OK? Does this mean that the pain and suffering of the global workforce have finally become unbearable enough, with 23% engagement (meaning 77% disengagement) making an investment in people and creating a healthy workplace environment worthy? Just imagine the possibilities revealed with a shift in belief. A continuous investment that generates a healthy workplace environment offers the acupuncture point to release exponential flow in productivity, team collaboration, and the fuel for sustaining profitability.
Consider this idea: the belief you hold that change is hard was a choice made long ago. That choice long ago served you to build habits and preferences that operate today unconsciously without deliberate thought. Long-held beliefs form the basis of an autopilot that recognizes familiar elements of a situation and motivates a reaction based on history. That autopilot requires a deliberate override to allow spontaneous, current moment choice to operate. Without pausing to determine if a match exists between past experience and the current moment, we repeat history and reinforce that what we focused on must be challenging because it doesn't fit our auto-response.
Consider this idea: focusing on creating certainty about the post-change environment provides the deliberate choices that override the autopilot switch. This idea assists us in considering the change we want and understanding why we don't act. It's not changing that's hard; it's the influence of emotions tied to our uncertainty and, often, deep mistrust that we will be OK on the other side of the change, to be at least as safe and happy if not better because of the change. When leaders say, "Please trust the process," the workforce says, I don't understand enough to give that trust; it's too vulnerable. The change management method, ADKAR, created by Prosci CEO Scott McAlister, aptly begins the process by building awareness of the reason for the change, closely followed by generating desire. These actions replace the hollow phrase "trust the process," which is code for "just trust me and stop being resistant." Of course, change can be overwhelming and scary, and it's natural to resist it. But by exploring our reasons for wanting to change (awareness) and focusing on the potential positive outcomes (desire), we can shift our mindset from fear to excitement.
Change is an inevitable constant, and we have been learning throughout our life journey to construct our desired level of certainty and trust in the future. Life is like a river that flows continuously, never halting or turning back. In this grand symphony of existence, change is the natural rhythm that guides our every step. We constantly evolve from the moment we are born until our last breath. Embracing change is not a choice we make. To embrace change, we experience an invitation to dance gracefully with our environment and relationships that remind us we are not alone. So here are four tips to strengthen your resolve to adopt a new belief, "I enjoy ease with change."
1. Replace fear with renewal.
One of the reasons we perceive change as hard is the resistance we often harbor within ourselves. Fear creeps into our hearts, whispering tales of uncertainty and doubt. We hold onto what is familiar, even if it no longer serves us because it feels safe. But my dear, change is where our true potential lies. Only by stepping out of our comfort zones can we truly grow and unfold into the magnificent beings we are.
2. Embrace flow.
Imagine, for a moment, standing at the edge of a majestic waterfall. The water cascades down effortlessly, seamlessly adapting to the curves and crevices of the earth. Change, my friend, is just like that flowing water. It is a natural force that adapts to whatever obstacles come its way. When we allow ourselves to surrender to the flow of change, we too can effortlessly glide through life's challenges, learning and growing with each new experience.
3. Redefine success.
Rather than an absence of failure or obstacles, success rests within our willingness to perceive and engage spontaneously to use the experience of change as motivation to express more of our innate creativity. When we allow, we strengthen self-trust; this also comes with a cycle of renewal and strengthening. Another useful belief to adopt, "give trust to get trust," applies to our internal choice process.
4. Restore choice.
Our mindset is the key that unlocks the door to effortless change. When we perceive change as a burden, it becomes heavy and overwhelming. But when we shift our mindset and approach change with curiosity and openness, it transforms into a magical adventure waiting to unfold. Remember, my friend, change is not happening to us, but rather, it is happening for us. Through embracing change, we can navigate the winds of transformation with grace and resilience.
Change is not something to be feared or resisted but rather an opportunity for growth, evolution, and self-discovery. I invite you to release the belief that change is hard and welcome the belief that you can enjoy ease with change.
Experienced with individuals at the Board of Directors, “C” Chair, Executive and Senior Management levels, Janet assists executives in adopting effective habits of perception and behavior to lead and accelerate corporate strategies. Typical engagements address executive development in the following areas: articulate and inspire through clarity of vision, enable respectful challenge, debate and catalyze synergy for strategic business choices, risk/reward critical thinking about investments and shareholder value, plan leader succession and architect sustainable cultural/strategic change.
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