Dealing with Constructive Personal Change: Handling the Bend in the Road

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn. Follow the axiom “Learn to live and Live to learn and the curves served up to you  can be conquered. ” MW Hardwick  

Breaking through old habits, failure and personal change requires courage, resilience and action. Courage to see a brighter future. Resilience to snap back and recover from disappointments and failures and action to start doing what comes naturally and produce the results you envision.

“In times of profound change, the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” Eric Hoffer

This important skill set can help break the rhythm and cycle of starting, stopping and returning to old patterns of worn-out and useless habits. This does not mean that change will be easy but it gives you hope that awareness and new skills can be learned and acted on.

Today’s world  is increasingly diverse and rapidly changing; so you need a tool set and array of skills and strengths to survive and thrive.  Every aspect of our lives is getting stretched –not enough time or money to do what we want to do. If stay stuck in the status quo your life is bound to be turned upside down in ways you can’t imagine.  I can’t think of any skill set  more important than the ones I mentioned above: courage, resilience and action..

These days, change comes at us like “white water rapids” or a “tornado.”  These significant changes appear  so quickly and from so many different directions, that it seems we operate in a perpetual state of uncertainty. Keeping your team be it a family or in an organization motivated, agile, focused, aligned,  and involved requires your personal leadership no matter what step on the  organization you are at.  A leader, no matter where they are in the organization  who can quickly identify issues, be calm, responsive and act quickly in tough situations is not just a necessity to have , but a requirement these days.

What does courage, resiliency and constructive action look like?  According to many scholars on Change Management like Kotter or  Daryl Conner or Kanter you need to have the following elements in your tool set: :

1. flexibility and agility 

Resiliency includes a special pliability when responding to uncertainty. When new opportunities present themselves or current approaches need to be adjusted, resilient leaders can make a decision even if it runs counter to previous thoughts. They seek alternative ways to view or define problems, and don’t allow themselves to get constrained by the thoughts or approaches of others. They tap into the best of existing ideas and information while also generating novel, untested ideas. They think expansively, combining ideas in unique ways and making connections between disparate ideas. Most of all, they demonstrate an ability to test, and if necessary, change deeply held beliefs and assumptions about issues. How? By asking “what if” questions and not getting trapped in old ways of thinking simply because they worked in the past.

3. Organized

When chaos abounds, resilient leaders develop structured approaches to managing ambiguity. They use frameworks to constantly sort and process information. They formulate clear decision criteria while considering implications and consequences in order to choose the most effective options. They get clear on what needs to happen, and develop systems or processes for getting things done in a timely manner. They think through steps and actions before jumping in. Once into action, they monitor results through follow-up systems and checking in with others.

3. Positive Disposition-Take advantage of the  5 to 1 rule. 

Resilient leaders see the glass as half full rather than half empty. They see opportunity where others see problems, and view change as a positive rather than a negative. When setbacks occur, they look for the lessons to be learned rather than berating themselves or others for failing to achieve the goal. When faced with adversity they remain focused on winning at all times, and keep everyone else in the organization focused in that direction as well.

4. Anticipate Change by paying attention and scanning the environment

Rather than letting change dictate their course of action, resilient leaders engage it head-on. They start by seeking information about new work situations and developing alternative plans and back-up scenarios for important activities. Then they target important areas for innovation and develop solutions that address meaningful work issues and opportunities. Resilient leaders ask questions of others before making final decisions, and ensure commitment and understanding of those decisions. They demonstrate decisiveness by taking timely action to address an issue, prevent a problem from arising, or solve a problem. They make explicit the key operating and financial performance measures and goals, and hold individuals and the organization accountable for achieving those results. When necessary, they take action beyond their job requirements in order to achieve the new objectives.

5. Ability to focus and remove interferences and distractions.

In the face of unexpected setbacks and disruptive change, resilient leaders do two very important things: they maintain a clear vision of what they want to achieve (winning) and they continually communicate to employees how the organization will still win.

Resilient leaders get others interested by engaging their imaginations, generating intrigue in the subject, and asking questions that stimulate new thoughts. They have a knack for sorting through large amounts of information and opposing points of view to settle on a decision. They follow through on commitments, and keep others informed when promises cannot be made. They participate in establishing individual and team goals, and then communicate over and over again how accomplishing those goals will enable the organization to achieve its vision of winning. Most important, they get the right things done without constantly pursuing other options that may or may not align to the objectives.

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Some people  have an innate talent for demonstrating courage, resiliency and constructive action. Others need to work at it. Either way, if we don’t have the knack for bouncing back quickly, and facing things we fear or the inability to act on insufficient information in a high velocity way you made stay stuck or be run over by the stresses and pressures in life.

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