Jan 222012
 
Share

change is good

Do You Embrace Change?

I have found that it is quite useful to embrace change, to be a person who seeks out the new and different.

As the saying goes, “There is one constant in life, and that is change”.

Of comfort to those who dread change should be another saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same”.

How do you approach change?  Many I’ve known try to avoid change at all costs.  They’re even willing to perpetuate policies and approaches that no longer make sense, just so they will not have to deal with change.  Logically, we know this does not make sense, but by and large, human behavior is not based on logic, it’s based on emotion.

So what’s so bad about change?  For most, the answer to this question is:  I’m comfortable with the current approach and I went to a lot of trouble to learn and understand it, so I do not want to have to learn something new.  In many cases, the truth is that they did not actually go “to a lot of trouble to learn and understand it”; rather, it just fell into their lap and it just “is”.  They’re lazy and afraid and they just don’t want to have to deal with yet another new thing.

Unfortunately for those who approach life this way, as the saying goes, change is the only constant.  Even if much of the change is just a repositioning or a repackaging of old ideas, concepts and approaches, as far as our minds go, it’s different.  So, deal with it.  Don’t try to avoid it.  Embrace it.  Seek ways to find and even encourage change.  This brings to mind the title of a book I once read, “If It Ain’t Broke, Break It,” by Robert Kriegel.  It was quite a while back, so I don’t recall all the details, but if I remember correctly, the main theme was to challenge “conventional wisdom”.  The mindset that “we do it this way because we’ve always done it this way,” simply does not make sense, particularly in a world as dynamic as the one in which we live.

The idea of challenging “conventional wisdom” appeals to me viscerally.  It describes who I am and who I’ve always aspired to be:  someone who doesn’t just take “that’s how it is” as an answer.  This can lead to its challenges, of course, particularly in environments where the “powers that be” make major efforts to indoctrinate their subordinates.  I’m sure you can think of a few environments like that.

So what does this mean to the entrepreneur and the high achiever?  In my experience, those who embrace change, or at a minimum, are willing and able to deal with it head-on, rather than doing all they can to avoid it, tend to have better outcomes in the world of achievement and entrepreneurship.  They are introspective in all that they do and even though they don’t just do whatever “the man” says, they are coachable.  They will challenge most everything they hear, but they do so with an open mind.  They embrace change, but do not fall victim to “shiny object syndrome”.  They approach all problems and issues as opportunities and they understand that change is an unavoidable element of progress.  They are not intellectually (or otherwise) lazy; rather, they are intellectually curious and have a strong desire to continually improve and tweak wherever they can.  They do so without succumbing to the circularity and paralyzing nature of perfectionism.

How do you approach change?  Would you say you embrace the opportunity to find better solutions, or do you stonewall every suggested change that comes your way?  Are you a change agent, or are you a staunch protector of the status quo?

I encourage you to open your mind to change.  Challenge everything, of course, but do it in the spirit of confronting the dynamic nature of our world and business operating environment, rather than burying your head in the sand, or worse yet, actively trying to impede every potentially beneficial change that comes your way.

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

Go to the right-hand navigation bar near the top of the page, enter your email and click subscribe.  We respect your privacy and will not sell your email address.  Note:  once you subscribe, if the confirmation email doesn’t arrive, check your spam filter.  It usually makes it through, but sometimes those pesky spam filters don’t know what’s good..

Share
  • Wendy Cassera

    It always amazes me that people are so opposed to change. I see this in my business quite a lot as people continue to stand on the “this is the way it has always been done” wall.
    Change creates new and inventive things, processes, and ways in our lives that most often make things easier and better for us.
    Thank you so much for pointing out the progress that change brings.!
    Smiles

  • Hi Paul,
    I didn’t realize so many people are afraid of change. Life is nothing but change–today we are different than yesterday, and the key is to embrace it. On the other hand I find that change does not necessarily mean scrapping the means and methods you are using today, but rather just tweaking them. After all, how will you know if you are doing things as efficiently as possible if you never try altering them? If you try a few alterations and the original was the best, you can have more confidence in the original–and what’s better than proving you were right the first time!
    Thanks for the post Paul,
    Bill

  • Mallie Dein

    Change is inevitable. You don’t have to like it, but you do have to be able to roll with the flow, take a step to the side, rethink and re-engage. Great post.

  • I do both. I embrace change when I have that gut feeling it’s good, and I also dislike change when it feels as if it is forced upon me.

    Sometimes I need a little push, but I am pretty much self-motivating and social networking opportunities. I do take it a bit slower than most, I would say.

    Nice thought provoking post.

  • Agreed, Wendy! It’s not easy, but it’s important to learn to embrace change!

  • Thanks, Bill. Very true – change does not always need to be major. In fact, many times, a small tweak here and there can make a huge difference.

  • Thanks, Mallie. Yes, adaptability is what it’s all about. I like your comment, as it reminds me of what’s been discovered with regard to evolution and survival of species. Those that adapt survive; those that don’t often simply perish.

  • Most of us have a bit of both in us — resistance and embracing of change. You’d have to be pretty introspective to figure that out though. 🙂

  • Paul, I have two scenariosof Change Acceptance:

    1.Business related: Embracing change related to improvements, new systems generally are quite enjoyable to me, as I learn newer better ways of doing things and “keep up”. More activity in these than others.
    2. Personal: Reluctance to some dive into other personal habit changes. These changes for me have to be deliberate “life style” changes, and so far some of them have been successful. In my examples the personal change requires more effort to implement and stick with

  • Joel, thanks for bringing in the work vs. business related distinction. It’s an interesting way to look at how we embrace or reject change.

  • What an eye opener. I admit, I am guilty of not being able to embrace change sometimes because I feel that I don’t want to go further anymore and that I am already okay with what I have, but I realized that I shouls take some risks and never stop going further. With this, I can be a more effective person and I’d be able to meet more interesting people on the way. Thanks for this great post. 🙂

  • I’m in the ‘early adopter’ camp so embrace change probably a little too willingly! I loathe the ‘it’s always been done this way’ statement but have to admit sometimes the old ways are the best.
    I agree with you that you have to not be intellectually lazy, the world is always changing and those that ignore changes will fail. A considered decision is always best 🙂

  • Thanks for your comment, Angel. I particularly like where you said, “…and I’d be able to meet more interesting people on the way…”. I think you’re right and it’s worth dealing with a bit of change to make it happen!

  • Thanks, Gemma. Yes, sometimes the old ways are the best, but it’s worth testing them against alternatives from time to time.

  • Dawn

    I would say that I embrace change as an entrepreneur and I love learning new things, forcing myself out of my comfort zone and evolving with the times. On a personal note, it is a bit different. If I would have read this yesterday, I would say, yea, I am good with change. However, after the day I had today…not so much.

  • Yes I do embrace change, I moved 12 times and lived abroad for 20 years and I am still coping with the last move from Brussels to New Jersey:-) Some changes are inevitable but not all are necessary, we need sometimes some stability to build a nest and lay eggs and see babies growing (metaphor valid for building a family or a business).

  • Thanks, Dawn. It’s interesting how many of us have a different posture for embracing change in our business / entrepreneurial endeavors than we do in our personal lives. It’s not true for everyone, but I have seen this with many people I coach. I don’t think it’s either good or bad, but it’s important to recognize the difference, so that you can adjust your behavior if/when necessary.

  • I´m a change agent. It´s hard. I´ve been struggling to make people understand that playing with students (adults included) is serious business and that enhances the acquisition of a language (among other subjects, of course) for over 23 years. Yes, 23! And still some administrators and teachers don´t get it… I agree with you, Paul. We need to be ready to change. Do you know who invented quartz watches? No, not the Japanese. Apparently, they were Swiss and, as Switzerland had the 60/80% of the watch/clock market in those days, manufactures there didn´t think it was a good idea to risk anything. Well, they didn´t change their paradigm in time and look what happened. Who has the greater market share now?
    There´s an excellent video on changing education paradigms by Sir Ken Robinson that I reposted in my blog http://eltgoestothemovies.blogspot.com/2011/05/changing-paradigms-by-ken-robinson.html

  • Sherrie Koretke

    Hi Paul,
    I not only embrace change I seek it. I’ve noticed I have to be careful not to make changes for change sake in business, but on the whole I love it. In business changes are crucial because of business cycles, customer demands, changes in the economic climate, and so much more. The trick is to be able to forecast those changes before it’s too late.
    Sherrie

  • Thanks, María. Great example. The Ken Robinson video on changing paradigms in education is excellent! Paul

  • Thanks, Anne. Yes, it certainly sounds like you embrace change and can take it in stride! I’m sure this makes your experiences and insights extremely valuable to your executive coaching clients.

  • Ruth Catchen

    Love this article! I know so many people who just say “This is the way we do it.” I am more of the mind that if it isn’t broken, break it! Life is always evolving and changing and we need to move with that. The video or Sir Ken Robinson I have seen before. He embraces change-love it!

    My question is how do you get people to turn around and go up hill when they are going down hill? I find that my ideas rarely fit, although they are not radical in any way, and I long to find a way to make change happen. Am I going about it in the wrong way? Any suggestions form all of the change agents out there?

  • Very true, Sherrie. The job of forecasting changes is not an easy one, but as with anything else, the more you do it, the more intuitive and easier it tends to become. The key is to be paying attention in the first place; that’s where many entrepreneurs get into trouble.

  • Ruth, my main suggestion is just keep trying different approaches, depending on the constituency, while at the same time maintaining communication with other educators who want to stay on the cutting edge. As discussed in the post and comment on the importance of differentiation and adding value, the key is try to harness the immense power of the various technological advances that have occurred over the last several years. I’m happy we have people like yourself out there trying to bring education to a whole new level.

  • Just keep trying, Ruth, as Paul says. I´d add show people your ideas work. I´ll never forget when a huge overseas oil company hired me to teach Spanish to the new regional president (about to retire after this post) and his wife while they were staying in the town I live. I insisted on the use of games, songs and movies. They were against games especially. Anyway they finally hired me and sent me lots of material which I hated. So I used part of it, the rest was included as homework suggested by in-company teacher). I prepared my own stuff and started the course. They drove me crazy and asked for a daily report! After a week this crash course had started, I asked my two students to answer a longish questionnaire, it was kind of a survey that included their opinion on the use of games, songs and movies; I sent that instead of the blooming report. They never bothered me again. My students “showed” my way worked.

  • Chat

    es, 23! And still some administrators and teachers don´t get it… I agree with you, Paul. We need to be ready to change. Do you know who invented quartz watches?