Tuesday June 22nd, 2021

Change! But How? (Part 1)

“Whenever the environment changes, stability is deadly.”
Peter Kruse

What’s new for you?

A new job, a new project, a reorganization? Sometimes we initiate these kinds of changes ourselves. However, often enough we are simply faced with it.

Whether self-chosen or not, there is always the question: What to do? How can we cope with what we are facing?

Apart from the question

what’s going to happen next, in times of change, uncertainty always gnaws at us: Will I/we be able to deal successfully with the tasks at hand?.

If this uncertainty turns into doubt or even fear, there is a danger that we become unable to act and block against necessary steps: paralysis, conflicts, dissatisfaction are looming.

Yet we humans prefer things to be quite different, that is: calm. We also feel most comfortable when things are running smoothly in the usual way.

And yet things always turn out differently

Sometimes it’s customer requests, sometimes it’s innovations from the competition that need to be responded to; our best man, of all people, leaves the team or the go-getting and visionary managing director demands the testing of a new process technology at an unfortunate time.

Last but not least, we also want to fulfill our own wishes: We want to take the next career step or we fall madly in love in another city.

So we are constantly forced to seek new ways, to take a chance on something new, to adapt.

All the more amazing

that we generally have such a hard time with this and acquire virtually no conscious competence in this area.

It is true for our change management what is true for our self-management in general: What we do, we usually do: very intuitively.

Trusting intuition alone

however, harbors high risks. Especially where several people are involved and affected.

Because intuitive decisions are based on individual experience and are insofar random. Success (especially organizational) is thus largely left to chance.

Gambler types may get a kick out of this. All others like it but perhaps more predictable.

So what to do

to minimize the risk of failure and take purposeful action in uncertain times? What to do to feel good about upcoming changes? How to be sure you are doing the right thing? How to trust that change will go well?

1. Radical Acceptance!

To live is to change. Radically accept change as an inevitable part of life. This way you will save energy for the steps you need to take.

This puts you in a position to act more stress-free, more flexibly, more actively, simply: better. In addition, you avoid a passive victim posture from the outset and take on an active, self-effective role.

You are more likely to look for solutions in a goal-oriented way instead of focusing on problems. You also assess your options more realistically and then use them to your advantage.

“One does not discover new lands without losing sight of the shore for a long time.”
André Gide

2. Get to know the structure of change!

Knowing how change happens in general and where you are in the process first gives you the ability to control the process. In this way, you gain the maximum degree of certainty, which is a good feeling.

So how does change happen?

  1. Leaving familiar routines and structures
  2. Finding and installing new processes and patterns
  3. Getting used to the things that are new and transferring them into new routine patterns

In the course of this three-step we internalize new routines of action on the one hand. Equally, however, we integrate new patterns of thought and attitude. We open up new perspectives and expand our horizons.

Doing and thinking are mutually dependent, which results in the hen-egg-dilemma: If there is no personally important reason for the new, we will leave it alone.

The consequence: We make no experiences. This in turn means no feeling for the new.

Having no feeling, especially not a good one, gives us no reason to take action – a vicious circle.

This explains why we ourselves, our team, our company do not take the step that has long been necessary: Either we lack the good motive to get us going. Or we hesitate out of respect, because we can’t assess the new thing for lack of experience.

If you want to get out of this predicament, you’ve got three options:

  1. Start simple, gain experience, learn from the mistakes, and keep adjusting what you do.
  2. Find good, emotional reasons for the goal (!) of change.
  3. Adjust the goal so that you cannot wait to get started.

This, of course, is no guarantee

that the change will be in your favor. There are still too many dependencies for that, which we sometimes don’t even know about, let alone can influence.

But by taking these steps, you minimize risk because you begin to influence the course of events within your means.

So take matters into your own hands! Take a chance on something new!