Why Can’t Things Just Stay How You Like Them?
We humans are funny creatures, aren’t we? We have this love/hate relationship with change. We want things to stay in our comfort zone, which means we want them to stay right in the spot where we know what to expect, yet in the long run, we are miserable with staying in the same place for too long (generally).
The only constant in life IS change. While we tend to resist change as an initial instinct, we inherently know that change is the ONLY way things improve in life…because by definition, improvement is change, it’s a better version of whatever it is that got improved.
Negative conditioning, and what I call mental monuments to poor past outcomes are big parts of why we all resist change at first. We remember in life, the things that didn’t work out so well and that fosters fear leaks in our minds when we consider any change. There is also the hassle factor of learning something new.
Anyway, in the previous blog, you got some of the story of how the next stage of my journey started in 1996 and lessons from the prior several years, as it relates to how you are growing through difficult times. The ensuing 7-year trek from 1996-2002 was where I not only fully uncovered my passion for teaching leadership, it was also where I first learned many lessons in all corners of leadership. And many of them were the HARD way!
Leadership, especially once you decide to take the responsibility to lead, is full of difficulties. When you see a leader smiling in front of a crowd, like the picture of me in this post, you aren’t seeing any of the struggle that brings someone TO the stage:-)
Changes from Every Angle
In leadership (and not), changes are always happening in multiple ways at once…changes in yourself in your thinking, knowledge, value system, attitude, circumstances, relationships, etc. and then there are changes in the work you are doing that are wrapped up in many layers of influences, from the marketplace demands, to technology changes, the economic factors, government regulations, consumer tastes, and then the litany of other human based-shifts inside the business.
In leadership, you have the responsibility to make changes WORK in the real world while you are dealing with your own feelings about the actual changes. This is not an easy spot to be in, especially if you are not fully in agreement with the change.
When I’m teaching 360-degree leadership, this is one of the more challenging aspects of the position. By definition, unless you are the owner of a company, there is always someone who’s decision comes from above you, that you have to drive through the organization, regardless of your opinion. You have to champion someone else’s cause, so to speak.
In the next 4 years alone (96-99), the manufacturer/partner, who’s rules our business was playing by, made three major changes to the compensation structure we were working with, which impacted how the sales force earned their income and shifted how they would build their business. This was all with the right intention (to improve on what existed to stay competitive and be a more attractive business destination for talent), but people don’t think about intention. They worry about how it’s going to affect them and not from a positive perspective.
It was extremely valuable for me to have to champion and lead through all three of those changes, because it was difficult emotionally and practically. The second and third of these (which were 3 years apart) were major changes. The second I didn’t agree with at all, and the third was counter to the entire structure of how I had built my business. This meant that I had to put my own feelings and challenges aside, and focus on the the positive sides of the change, while absorbing the emotional impact in the field.
Every kind of possible emotion you could encounter in yourself and in others, I had to face and navigate. It was an incredible education about people. I did lots of things wrong. I said the wrong thing many times. Many people left the organization as a result of the changes. Many others left the organization in spirit, even though they were physically present for a while longer. Many times, I felt alone. This is part of leading. In my opinion, there is no other way to really learn how to lead change effectively than to do it, and be trained on it or coached on it, while you are doing it. I had no benefit of the training or coaching…only the boots on the ground school of learning. It’s your job as a leader to be the light and the positive in the tough stuff. You are going to have people who will not like you for doing it, but you have to do it anyway. I can say now, that I know I could have done a better job at using empathy, etc. but back then, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. (This is just one of the many examples of why I am fanatical about getting quality training for the people in your business)
At the same time there were other substantial changes happening personally. We bought our first home in 1998. Just a few years after being penniless. That was a wonderful change as it gave our family some roots for the first time, since we had moved at least every two years since we were married. That stability was important for me personally looking back, because I believe it helped me manage my own head stuff by giving a feeling of accomplishment that I could actually see regardless of how poorly I continued to think of myself (I was getting better, but still had a long way to go).
Also, in 1998, my brother passed away. This was a watershed shift for me, because it truly affirmed the 3 Circles platform value for me. I knew in that moment that I would never place anything in my life above health and family. Never. I had been experiencing the fruit of living this way for years at that point, but that was an exclamation point.
Not long after this shift, I began to understand the leadership implications of 3 Circles Living. Not only was I committed to this, but I understood how important it was for others to live this way too. After all, what you want most in leadership is for the people you lead to grow and develop and have a better life. It took a while for me to learn that, which looking back, I realize was the beginning of the servant leadership path.
There was one final, massive change that happened in 2000 that had to do with the focus of the partner company and the focus of my own energy in leadership. This was literally a continental/international shift that opened up an entirely new world, but that story is for a different time.
To wrap up this article…Change is your friend and one of your most important teachers in life and business. It’s okay to feel whacked out about a change that happens suddenly, and it’s even okay to feel whacky about a change you KNOW you should make. The key is to assess, and then move forward. In leadership, it’s important to get some training on the leadership competencies as quickly as you can, and ideal if you can have a coach to consult with as you face significant issues the first time.
Change is a growth factor in all parts of your life. The better and faster you learn to navigate change, the better and faster you will be at leading others through change. In this site, if you put the word “Change” in the search area you will find a lot of articles about change. I hope hearing this little piece of the story gives some useful perspective and helps you see things you can work on.
Here is one of my very first Youtube Videos back in 2010. This has a little story about making personal change that may be of value for you too!
If you need some Coaching, or Training for your organization, reach out to me.
Many Blessings, Todd
P.S. Getting the right nutrients for your body to function at it’s best is vital to a good life. In this video, I share insight into many of the challenges that are causing people to struggle with their health and energy, and then I share one of my secret weapons that I have used for 21 years. If you’d like to know more, shoot me a message. How to Manage Your Health Risk