Embracing change is notoriously difficult. A simple Google search yields dozens of helpful articles, self-help books and strategies that relate to embracing change. When people say they easily embrace change, I dare to bet one of two things is true: the change they are reflecting upon was their idea or they have had a lot of practice reacting to change directives.
We’ve all experienced forced change. From everyday hiccups like road construction that dictates we find an alternate driving route to more complex changes like workplace reorganization, change is something we can count on. As much as we claim to have no interest in reinventing the wheel, look how far the wheel has come! And that quest to build a better mousetrap is real. The drive to do things bigger, better, faster, cheaper is human nature.
So what’s my point and why am I writing yet another how-to-embrace-change article? Because it doesn’t have to be so hard. And the upside to readily embracing change is significant.
The “why” behind our negative emotional reaction to forced change is another topic entirely. (Hint: Nobody likes being told what to do.) But let’s save that for another day and get back to that not-being-so-hard part.
Consider this hypothetical about a work-related process change. Imagine that this change directive is going to complicate your life. You’re going to have to do things differently, find alternatives and explain to people the pros/cons of each. For the sake of this argument, assume it’s not a change that will cost lives or trouble your moral conscience but it will probably feel like reinventing the wheel. A wheel you were perfectly happy with just the way it was.
You have a critical first choice to make. A choice in how you react and expend your mental energy. Take a look at the thought tree below comparing two paths forward.
While this is admittedly oversimplified, it does make my point about the upside to truly embracing change. It makes you an asset to your organization instead of another task on the leadership change management plan. So the choice is yours, which do you want: negativity and nothing to show for it or a positive attitude, action plan and a seat at the table?
Easier said than done is what you’re thinking right now. But is it really that hard? It certainly takes practice (again, topic of future posts) but it’s as simple as not expending mental energy on things that are out of your control or in the past. Make a decision not to waste brain power thinking about what-ifs. Focus your energy on things you can control, make lists, make lists of lists and then take action.