Be The Observer Of Change, Not The Office Vampire.
Updated: Aug 1
How not to let change get the best of you.
Sorry, Gandhi. I have to disagree with you just once. Don’t get me wrong. I love and often use the quote by Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. But there’s one circumstance I don’t recommend being the change and that’s with dreaded organizational changes that happen every year for many companies.
Over the last several years, I’ve experienced big and little changes at the turn of a new fiscal year and one observation is consistent, most people wrestle with change. So, what’s the secret to embracing change and manifesting opportunity when change comes your way?
Before jumping into embracing change, let’s understand how the human psyche processes situations in general.
The human psyche process is like a computer. It's consistent and predictable. First, you take in five sensory data points. Your brain then takes those data points and compares it to past experiences in your memory bank to create a familiar circumstance in the present moment. You then have thoughts about the circumstance you just created. Those thoughts trigger emotions. Those emotions lead to actions. It’s actually quite simple. We subconsciously process thoughts > emotions > actions at lightning speed.
It’s common for people to become their thoughts, emotions, and actions. Meaning they self-identify with their situation which consumes their conscious identity and leadership presence.
So what does this have to do with organizational change? Well, for many, it can mean you unconsciously cling and identify with fear and anxiety when change “happens to you”, leaving you drained and unproductive.
In the workplace, the internal processing might sound a little like this, “The company might be reorganizing our teams next year. Last time this happened Dean lost his job and my job responsibilities changed. What if I get a new boss. I like my boss and I certainly don’t want to work for Neil, he’s a jerk. I can’t stop thinking about what could happen. I can’t focus on my project. My project might not even be a priority next year. I’m going to cancel my workshop and meet with Jane to see if she has any visibility into the changes for next year.”
What if there was a way to process change in a way that inspires you and others about the future vs. being an energy vampire? It's easy to be a great leader when business is booming but extraordinary leaders gracefully shine in times of adversity. This is your opportunity to shine and liberate your brilliant leadership. You can completely shift your perspective about change in a few easy Life xSpearmints steps.
Be the Observer of Change: To be the observer of change, you have to create distance between you and the thoughts and emotions you are having about change. Just witness your thoughts and emotions flow by, like a movie. You can be the Morgan Freeman of your own movie, narrating thoughts as they flow by. Or, if you enjoy humor during times of adversity, then silently copy Will Farrell in ELF when he sings, “I’m singing. I'm in a store. I’m singing”. But you might sing, “There’s change. I’m anxious. I don’t like it.” A few giggles might help you diffuse the situation. Dont's: Don’t try to avoid thoughts or emotions, they are innate human behavior. Do not cling to or embody any negative energy, instead, mentally swipe to delete them once they pass.
Talk with one trusted coach or mentor. Find one person you trust that will fully listen without judgment about the potential change. This is your "unload" opportunity to get it out of your system. Someone that asks good questions and can provide unique perspectives only when you get stuck. Dont's: Don’t be the energy-vampire in the office multiplying anxiety and sucking the positivity out of people. And, do not try to piece together the future by soliciting assumptions from person to person. It’s a waste of energy for all involved and counterproductive to the business.
Identify the opportunity with change. Identify as many potential opportunities with change. Make a list of all the good that can come out of the potential change. For example, a promotion, working with new people or, expanding a new skillset. When fear or anxiety strike, remind yourself of the opportunities. Dont's: Don't look at change as "happening to you". That's victim-like thinking. Extraordinary leaders aren't victims, they are opportunists. Which do you choose to be?
OPTIONAL STEP: If you find yourself struggling with identifying the opportunity, then identify the worst-case scenario possible and build a high-level action plan, as a safety net. If your worst-case scenario is losing your job then review all of your options for employment and build a soft plan. Look for other roles within the company. Reach out to your network. Socialize on LinkedIn. Look outside the company. Maybe it’s a good time to switch professions.
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