Leading with Why

4 Steps for Dealing with Change

Change is one of those things, one of those things that happens, one of those things that can be good or bad, one of those things that can happen in a flash or slowly grow over time. Everyone talks about it because it is always around and it is always going to occur. Sometimes you can see it on the horizon like an approaching rainstorm and sometimes it can surprise you like a clap of thunder. Either way, some change can’t be avoided and you have to know how to understand it in order to make the right decisions and adapt.

Recently, as I’ve described in previous posts, I’ve gone through a great deal of change in my life, most of it hasn’t exactly spawned a positive impact. However, in the last week or so, there was a fairly significant change that did. I won’t go into the details, but it caused me to start thinking about how I had been coping with so much change. I wasn’t necessarily following a certain process or 12 step program in order to adapt. I was proactive in some cases and reactive in others. I’m a fairly adaptable person, so these types of things are pretty easy for me to handle. But the gears started turning when I was asked HOW I was able to deal with change. I couldn’t answer and that meant I needed to think about it and try to come up with some kind of coherent thought that didn’t begin with, “uhhh…I don’t know, I just do.”

This is what I learned…

1. As with everything it is important to start with WHYNot WHY you need to adapt or why you reacted, those answers are centered around you. The WHY that needs to be considered is WHY the change occurred in the first place. Take the time to identify the core WHY of the change. Changes are usually the manifestation of something needing to be fixed, a gap or advantage in the market in a way. If someone at work was fired, the WHY may be because that person wasn’t doing their job, or not doing it well. If a project was turned in late, the WHY may be a breakdown in communication or lack of planning.

The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking. -Albert Einstein

You may have a limited perspective when changes occur quickly, but you also may know more than you realize. Think about your recent past and start to piece together all of the passing remarks or fleeting glances you dismissed over the past few weeks or months. There is a lot of information there that most of us shrug off as everyday occurrences. How valid are the rumors at the water cooler? How many secrets do you know that you shouldn’t? Putting these pieces in place will give you a better picture of WHY and a larger perspective on the change.

2. Weigh the options. With the exception of the natural environment, most changes are a result of choice. Someone made a choice that ultimately resulted in the change. It can be tricky to go all the way back to the first choice that eventually led down the path resulting in the change, so I wouldn’t advise trying to understand every single element. Stay focused on the most direct choices in the near past that led to the change. Remember, you are just trying to deal with the change not alter its path.

Weigh the pros and cons of each path for the choice. Like I said, be wary of your limited perspective, but once you can get a handle on what the options were you’ll have a better understanding of why a particular direction was chosen. Take some time to think about what you would have done in that position.

3. Be Objective. Take a step back and remove your emotion from the situation, positive or negative. This way you can truly see the impact of the change and make a real judgement on how it may relate with your own values.

4. Figure out where you fit and how you can contribute. If you’re not on the pro-change bus, that’s fine, but you will still need to be able to understand where you fit. If you don’t, you’ll get run over, quickly. Once you find your fit, everyone has something to contribute. Maybe you know some people that can make the change easier for others. Maybe you’ve got experience in this and you know how to make the transition smoother. Figure out where your talents can be utilized the best and put them to work.

Ultimately, we all have to deal with some sort of change at some point in our lives. Some of us are going to react well and others may choose to turn and walk away instead of deal. Change isn’t always easy, but there can be a lot of opportunity in change if you have a good understanding of it and know how to deal with it when it comes along.

I hope this made you better…

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