Change or Die

Change or Die

What if the mandate was presented to you in that way – what would you do?life-quotes-sometimes-the-things-we-cant-change

Most of us would say, “Well, change, of course!”

But statistically, it simply isn’t true.

In 2007, Alan Deutschman wrote a fabulous article for Fast Company – I recently ran across it again while moving. (Yes, it was so wonderful I PRINTED it out and saved it in my archives.) In it, Mr. Deutschman positioned that people, even presented with a life or death situation would choose NOT to change – why?

Because change is hard. It’s freaking hard. It requires a reorienting of our mindset to view change not as a threat but as a choice.

No one likes to be painted into a corner and given an ultimatum. Our natural inclination is to resist, even if it means our life. Or our job. Or our relationship situation.

A scenario cited in the Deutschman article referred to healthcare. The root cause of the health crisis hasn’t changed for decades. 80% of healthcare issues are caused by five behavioral issues: too much smoking, drinking, eating, stress and not enough exercise. I hear the collective eye roll and the group “duh.” But if we get it, why does it persist?

Many patients have heart disease so severe that they undergo bypass surgery, a traumatic and expensive procedure, and yet two years later, 90% of them haven’t changed their lifestyle at all.

Why, why, why?

Why do the majority of change efforts in companies fail?

Why do men and women continue to date the same losers time and time again?

Why do we fail to risk the new job opportunity to stay where we are underpaid and unfulfilled?

Because change is hard. It’s freaking hard. It requires a reorienting of our mindset to view change not as a threat but as a choice.

Changing the behavior of people is the biggest challenge of all, whether we’re talking healthcare, business or personal choices. The issue is never the change at hand – it’s what it means to ME. John Kotter, organizational change guru and a personal hero of mine says, “Behavior change happens mostly by speaking to people’s feelings. This is true even in organizations that are very focused on analysis and quantitative measurement, even among people who think of themselves as smart in an MBA sense. In highly successful change efforts, people find ways to help others see the problems or solutions in ways that influence emotions, not just thought.”

Uh-oh. They don’t typically teach the human side of change in Business School. And it certainly doesn’t come easy to the folks that are usually in charge of major organizational change initiatives; ignore this at your peril, friends.

So what triggers the switch? How does it become about ME and not something that’s being DUMPED on me?

Back to our healthcare scenario, Dr. Dean Ornish presents the motivation for a lifestyle change as a “joy of living” instead of a “fear of dying.” This completely changes the framework of thinking; I’m not giving up all the unhealthy things I love because I’m afraid of dying, rather I love the new way I feel – it’s a joy of living!

As an employee, I’m not resisting this organizational change because I fear what it is being done to me – I’m seeing that this opens new opportunities for me to expand my talents, learn new things and contribute in a greater way!

As an individual, this change in my relationship status didn’t just “happen” to me. Maybe there is a bigger gain here for me – I can choose how this story ends.

Having a different mindset requires a change – oops, there it is again. A change in our perception, a change in the way we lead others, a change in how we plan our next steps. It takes an effort, friends.

  • If you are a manager leading a team of people faced with organizational change, you can’t phone this in. You are going to have to swallow your own fears and concerns and lead them through to a place of transition.
  • If you are personally facing emotional upheaval due to career or life changes, you’re gonna have to pull up your big-boy/girl pants and alter your perception. You will survive.

Change is hard. It’s freaking hard. It requires a reorienting of our mindset to view change not as a threat but as a choice.

Get excited about it. Take control. You can write the next chapter. You, and you alone, can control the run-away thoughts in your head.

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