I, like many others, have had to regroup from the changes that 2020 has brought about. Finding ways to balance the unpredictability of my career and the “new normal” called chaos is not for the faint of heart. Despite the challenges, I realize that inaction is a waste of time and will get you nowhere fast.
When we overanalyze and fight for never-changing security, we stop experiencing the full array of choices life has to offer during our journey. Many of us have an obsessive desire to know what is happening now and what tomorrow will bring. Wondering what the future holds is a tough question at any age. Instead of trying to figure it all out, get comfortable with the discomfort of uncertainty.
There is an ancient Japanese Philosophy called Wabi-Sabi. It is a mindset that embraces the unpredictability of life, and it teaches us to celebrate the way things are instead of how it should be.
Life is unpredictable. And that’s okay. Embrace it. When nothing is certain, everything is possible! Our plans for tomorrow, next month, or next year may not unfold as we expect. But it is imperative to take action and keep moving forward.
A common misconception is that you are either a leader or a follower. The reality is that we all lead in some way (influence) and we all follow something or someone (religion, etc.).
Operationally, you will always have someone to report to, no matter where you are in the food chain. Corporate culture is pretty straightforward: entry-level employees reports to a supervisor, supervisors reports to a manager, managers reports to an executive, executives reports to a senior executive, and the CEO reports to the board or other key stakeholders.
In our effort to master the skills of leadership, we tend to lose sight that there is more to the leadership equation. For leaders to lead, they need exceptional talent and the ability to attract followers. They also need to master the art of humbly following others.
Being a good follower teaches us how to value the contributions others make, as well as develop our emotional intelligence. It doesn’t matter how many followers we have. We still share the same vulnerabilities, shortcomings, and struggles as other human beings.
Many leaders could accomplish more if they became aware of their need for personal growth and development for themselves and others. “He who cannot be a good follower cannot be a good leader.” Aristotle
With five generations in the workplace, management models that worked for one generation will have to be adapted to support the motivations and drivers of newer generations.
Challenging the statusquo can be scary because it often requires courage and a willingness to go against the grain. There’s also the possibility of receiving backlash from those who are less open to new ideas.
Rather than wondering if a challenge should be made, think about the person receiving the information and present it in a way that can be heard, understood, and valued. Here are some ideas:
1. Use the receiver’s language and tactics. If they like data, metaphors, etc., use them.
2. Think about the counter-response. Given what you know, how do you think they’ll react? Prepare for it.
3. Toughen up. Don’t let raised voices or criticism deter you. Acknowledge the person and reflect at a later time.
4. Talk to your colleagues. They can play devil’s advocate and provide alternative ideas based on their experience.
5. Play the odds. Timing is not always perfect. Think of when you can revisit the topic.
6. Accept your position. You may not be the most powerful person in the room, which is more reason to speak up.
7. Have a backup plan. Speaking up is a risk. Have a Plan B.
Our brains are hardwired to resist change because change can be difficult. Habits, routines, and learned behaviors make adjusting difficult at the individual level, and hard, if not impossible, at the organizational level.
Many organizations are bogged down by complacency and a lack of awareness of how to change. While change starts with individuals, the companies they work for also need to change to survive. People want to be aligned with purposeful organizations that are collaborative and inclusive, as well as socially and environmentally responsible.
Whether change takes the shape of a new system or process, or a complete overhaul of the way things function at the core level, driving lasting change is easier said than done.
Nearly half of our daily activities are habitual. We don’t think about them, yet we subconsciously do them. For example, waking up and instinctively grabbing our phone to check our email or social media. Think back across the last hour. What have you been doing? What part is habitual?
Understanding the components of habits (trigger, action, reward) helps us understand why behaviors emerge, what reinforces them, and how we can unlearn or replace them.
Change can be a difficult pill to swallow, especially in organizations accustomed to systematic routines and practices. However, as society advances, change is the only link to future success. Here are five insights into becoming a catalyst for change.
1. Don’t push harder – Adding more information or more good reasons to do something will not move people into action. Adding more pressure only creates more resistance.
2. Offer a choice – Give people two to three options. This makes them feel more in control of the decision and therefore, more open to change.
3. Point out the costs of the status quo – People tend to ignore small problems, but by shedding new light on these flaws and pointing out how they compound over time, you can make the inconvenience of change look more appealing than the cost of inaction.
4. Ask for less – Start by asking for a small, manageable change, and when that has been made, ask for another. Big shifts do not happen right away, but one step at a time.
5. Lower the barrier – Whether it’s a new product, service, idea, or #behavior, a new way of doing things means uncertainty. Offer a “trial run” to allow people to convince themselves of the value they’re being offered.
What makes a great leader in the 21st Century? The answer lies within these questions:
1. Where are you looking to anticipate change in your business and your life? Who are you spending your time with? What are you reading? What topics? How are you distilling this to understand potential discontinuities, and then doing something right now so that you are prepared and ready?
2. What is the diversity measure of your personal and professional stakeholder network? What is your capacity to develop relationships with people that are very different than you? Do they connect with you and trust you enough to cooperate with you in achieving a shared goal?
3. Are you courageous enough to abandon a practice that has made you successful in the past? The “go along to get along” attitude doesn’t work here. Great leaders dare to be different!
What makes a great leader today are the men and women who are preparing themselves not for the comfortable predictabilities of yesterday, but also for the realities of today, and all of the unknown possibilities of tomorrow.
Your travels create your life story. It’s a lifelong journey of asking questions and seeking answers, seeing things more clearly, listening more carefully, embracing change, and ultimately learning how to walk with the Creator each step of the way.
Regardless of the mistakes, disappointments, and setbacks you have encountered, where you are now is where you’re supposed to be. We are to trust and be grateful for each set of circumstances along the way.
When you focus on the blessings that emerge from your trials, you gain the strength and courage to continue moving forward. Remember to reflect on how far you have come versus how far you have to go and live out your purpose each day. Look for the Creator’s way in each moment and each decision and be grateful for the experience.
Change requires an open mindset. Our thought process is directly related to how we feel and influences how we act. We cannot maintain the same thought process and expect a different outcome.
We make a mess of our lives when we refuse to change the things we can or pretend to change without meaning.
Being resistant to change is a natural reaction. We even find ourselves cringing when we hear the word change. Change is not a bad omen or meant to be feared. It is through change that you grow and move forward.
Instead of asking others to change, identify areas where you may need improvement. A changed life speaks volumes and is often the most effective way to influence others.