Dealing With Change
"The art of life is a constant readjustment to our surroundings." (Kakuzo Okakaura)
"A wise man adapts himself to circumstances, as water shapes itself to the vessel that contains it." (Chinese proverb)
Too often, when there is a change in our surroundings, our environment, our organization, or our personal lives - one that impacts the status quo in a material way, we can be at a loss as to how to react.
This is a natural first reaction - as we look to absorb the situation, understand the nature of the impact, how negative, how material, etc. Nothing wrong with that, as hasty moves at the wrong time without sufficient analysis and insight can be damaging.
The problem arises when paralysis ensues. When we are caught in the limbo of concern and frustration and denial. When we don't want to take an action in the hope of some external, natural resolution to our situation.
We've seen this paralysis in action in many situations.
With a favorite sports team that keeps underperforming, yet the manager is reluctant to make substantive changes in the hope that the group of players will find a way to click.
In professional situations, when the market has shifted, yet management continues with the same strategy and is unwilling to make the hard changes needed to drive change.
In personal situations, where it is easier to avoid the situation (health, relationship, etc.), in the hope that fate or a higher power will somehow resolve the situation on its own.
All of this is, of course, pointless.
Change will not happen on its own. Sure, we may not be able to control all of the situations in our lives, but it's important to be proactive once it happens. We need to understand how we should react, adapt, adjust so as to either minimize the impact, or optimize our response to take advantage of the shift.
This calls for a series of steps:
- Acceptance of the situation: The change is real. It's happened. And it has changed things. Let's not deny it.
- A thorough analysis of the situation: Understanding the exact nature and extent of the shift - what does it mean? What's the positive? What is the negative?
- An honest assessment of our position: That there is a deficit (at some level) between where we are and where we should be in order to take advantage of the change
- An objective analysis of what it will take: What is needed to improve our position. What will it take to be successful?
- A realistic roadmap: A clear plot of what it will take for us to get to where we need to be
- Commitment: A realistic, wholehearted buy in that we want to go "there", wherever "there" is
- Action: Movement. Forward momentum. Aligned efforts. "Doing".
The last two points are absolutely critical. We have to buy into where we are going completely, and then we need to "do". No more thinking, no more continued analysis. But forward momentum, movement, action.
We cannot always control our situations, but we can control how we react to them.
The key is to do it.