How you feel about change says a lot about you. Is it something to be viewed with fear or scepticism? Or a sure sign that exciting times are ahead? While it’s easy to understand the appeal of a steady routine, staying in one place over a period of years performing the same kinds of tasks isn’t usually associated with a great deal of personal growth. Whereas embracing change could unlock an exciting future path you never knew you wanted.
Recognize Change as a Conduit to Learning
It’s a wise person who values and understands the difference between 20 years of experience and one year of experience, 20 times over. To achieve the former requires change. Change forces you to step out of your comfort zone and acquire new skills. It also teaches you how to adapt to different financial environments, how to cope with different management styles and personalities, and how to think on your feet in a crisis. All of these are skills that top employers look for. That’s because, as this Harvard Business Review article so aptly observes, managing change is at the heart of management.
Think of Change as a Testing Ground
So how do you overcome feelings of apprehension and vulnerability associated with change and learn to make the most of the opportunities it brings? The first step to mastering a change situation, be it in the workplace or at home, is to accept that you aren’t always in control. Further to this, that relinquishing control doesn’t have to be a disadvantage. On the contrary. If you’re not being asked to lead a change process, you have the opportunity to observe and learn from those who are. You also have the chance to test new approaches to see what works and what doesn’t. Being willing to experiment is often the best way of finding solutions to new challenges. It also makes for a compelling narrative, whether you’re the CEO or an intern. Who isn’t interested in hearing how it all came together in a story that begins with, “We tried this, and this is what we learned.”
Change gives you permission to function in experimental mode. It’s more likely to give you flexibility to affect the outcome than at any other time in your career or home life since the puzzle pieces are already in motion. Look for ways to glimpse into the future while taking as little risk as possible. Say you’re wanting to test out a new website idea before investing a lot of resource and time in it. Rather than embarking on a full-on page-building process, try some of your ideas on a one-pager, which is more cost-effective. There’s a means of safety testing almost every big project before diving in. Someone who is comfortable with change will look for these “safety ropes” while continuing to forge ahead.
Change is a Chance to Reflect
Learning to duplicate success requires that you understand what brought about that success. Every new manager has probably encountered the phrase, “We’ve always done it this way” from an employee resistant to change. Rather than disregarding this creed, wouldn’t it be interesting to know what the benefits of doing it “this way” are? Ask! Ask what works well about the current system and what could be better? Involving those who have been doing the tasks with devising a new way of approaching them allows them to use their experience to inform new processes. If you’re the employee facing change, ask yourself the questions. Much more interesting than “We’ve always done it this way” is “What is it about doing it this way that creates success?”
By viewing change as an opportunity to grow and add to your skillset, you’ll be much more engaged in seeing where it leads, which is a better means of adapting and affecting the outcome of change. Using the period of change as one in which to experiment helps you to understand what works and then to take those elements into new areas of your work or home routine. Once you’ve learned to embrace change, you may even decide to make a few in other areas of your life!