“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” –Charles Darwin
It is said that the seven most deadly words in business these days are “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” I took a flight recently on my favorite airline, and that attitude was never so prevalent than when people were boarding with only a place number in line versus an identified row and seat number on the plane. As people were boarding and finding a seat, a woman sat next to me. The first thing she said was, “I remember flying in the good ol’ days when you were assigned a seat and didn’t have to look around for what seats are available.” Do you often find yourself reminiscing about the “good ol’ days,” wishing that things would stay the same?
Change is always difficult. Many times, people drag their feet in the midst of change. When checking in for a flight with this airline, you have to jump online as soon as possible so that you can assure yourself a better spot for the boarding process, therefore guaranteeing more seat options on the plane. Unfortunately, a lot of people drag their feet – or procrastinate – to take care of the check-in process because it’s new and different. Procrastination is rarely a productive or positive way to work through a process, new or old.
There are two other ways to think about change: opportunity and courage. In the case of boarding a flight, there is an opportunity to meet someone new by sitting next to a stranger. Change also takes courage. It takes courage to engage in conversation with someone you don’t know. But by doing so, you may broaden your experience by learning about them, and where there might an intersection of life between the two of you. Think about your workplace and the opportunities of change. Whether it’s change in staffing or budget, policies and procedures or leadership. Do you find the courage to embrace the opportunity of change, or do you find yourself dragging your feet?
If you find that you feel more comfortable in the “that’s the ways we’ve always done it” way-of-thinking in your workplace, I’m going to ask you to be courageous and ask yourself why that may be. What is it about change that you might be resisting? If you or your team are struggling to embrace change, here are three ideas to help you incorporate the idea of change in your workplace:
Take small steps toward change.
Is it scary to look at things through a new and different lens? Maybe you like things exactly as they are because it’s what you’re familiar with – you understand your everyday tasks and expectations. If this is the case, change through smaller steps might be the best approach for you. Instead of looking at the big picture, take on one, small change until that feels familiar to you. Then, you’re ready to look even farther into the future and the next, new opportunity. Remember, looking backward is the enemy of progress.
Focus on your relevance to the team.
Someone asking you to do things differently can make you feel like you’re not good at your job and what it requires. In this situation, we can start to feel threatened and as if someone is saying that our contribution is lacking. Instead, remember your relevance to the team. Your knowledge, experience and willingness to adapt to change can be the very thing that carries your team forward.
Communicate the end-goal.
If it’s not broken, why fix it? Sometimes this is a necessary question to ask to better understand a change. Being transparent about the need for change is best reflected in your communication to your team. Having buy-in is critical for success. Be willing to evaluate and communicate your desire for change when challenges present themselves and the amount of work to be done becomes a reality.
It takes a lot of courage to consider and embrace change. Instead of wishing for the “good ol’ days” the next time you board a plane, maybe you can look at a new experience as an exciting opportunity!
Be positive, have fun and connect in this journey called life!