Improvement Requires Change

I am frequently surprised by people who want something “better” in their life. I guess that’s not really the part that surprises me, after all, who wouldn’t want “better”. The part that surprises me is that they want something better but they are not willing to accept any amount of change in their life to get it.

 

Any improvement, even a little one, requires that something must change. 

 

Just because you may not enjoy change (you’re most certainly not alone there) does not mean there will be no changes in your life. Change happens whether we want it to or not. 

 

Once you accept the fact that change is one of life’s certainties then you have the choice of whether those changes will drive you or you will drive them. That means the real question is will the changes in your life happen to you or because of you.

 

If you want to drive the change in your life then you must decide what changes you want. You must be very specific about what you want, “better” isn’t nearly specific enough to make it happen. Knowing exactly what you want to be better is a key to having it. You’ll also find that being able to effectively communicate, to yourself and others, exactly why you want the improvement is a big help too.

 

When you know what you want then set your goals and make a plan on exactly how you’ll make the change come about. This is the part many people miss, they want to see a change but they have no plan to make it happen. You need a plan! 

 

Now here’s the thing about your plan… it’s very unlikely to work, at least exactly as you had drawn it up. Expect disruptions in your plan, your path to successful change with be littered with obstacles and nay-saying people. Push on!

 

While you may find your plan wasn’t perfect it’s likely your planning process was sufficient enough to allow you to get right back on course when someone or something pushes you off. 

 

Be patient but be sure you’re not just procrastinating. The very best time to begin your journey to successful change is the moment you’ve identified the change you desire. “Later,” “tomorrow,” and “someday” are just words that slow you down, or stop you all together. The word you need is “now” as in right now, immediately, today. 

 

Be sure to surround yourself with supportive people. Change isn’t easy but like everything else, it’s easier when we get some morale support along the way. Never allow anyone to tell you that you can’t succeed and for heavens sake, never say that self-defeating horrible thing to yourself. 

 

You are going to experience change in your life; for some people that’s pretty bad news, for others it’s pretty good news. I guess it just depends on if your sitting behind the steering wheel of the change bus or if you’re just along for the ride.


So…where are you sitting today?

If it Ain’t Broke, Break It?

You know, try as I might I’m just not a big fan of change. Unless of course I’m driving the change. But I’m also fully aware that perhaps the most dangerous words in business are, “because we’ve always done it that way.”

 

So the first part of this post is written for me and those of you who share similar sentiments about change. We need to get the heck over it and realize that the pace of change is only going to continue to accelerate. We can either get on board that bus or that bus is going to run us over. 

 

Imagine the world if everyone lived with that “we’ve always done it that way” philosophy. No cars, no airplanes, no TV, no internet, and oh my gosh, no cell phones. (I guess no phones for that matter)

 

Obviously we only need to think for a few seconds to realize that change can be very good. The challenge for many people is stopping to think for those few seconds. The reality is that almost everything we use in our daily lives will one day be replaced by something even better.

 

If you can’t embrace change you can’t grow and if you can’t grow you can’t get better. The first thing you may want to consider changing is your instinct to resist change. Replace it with an open mind and at least a “we’ll see” attitude, you never know, you may just be pleasantly surprised.

 

Now for the second part of this post. It is written for those of you just itching to change stuff because you can. You should take a quick lesson from Winston Churchill who said, “there is nothing wrong with change, if it’s in the right direction.”

 

Change for the sake of change is seldom good change. Before you change what’s worked for a long time you may want to consider exactly why it’s worked for a long time. While I’d agree, there very possibly is a better way, make certain you’re not also discarding the part of a process that works and replacing it with an untested process that may not. 

 

“We’ve always done it that way” is a proven method of failure. “Let’s blow up what works and start over” often is as well.


Moving forward with little or no knowledge of your starting point is a quick path to nowhere. Go ahead and change, just be certain that your “better” direction indeed has a solid, realistic chance to be better.


Everything Changes

Here’s a question for you to think about. Are you managing change in your life or is change managing your life? 

It’s one or the other because this much is certain: “things” in your life are changing. 

I’m a bit astonished at the number of people I run into who are still almost completely resistant to change. They expend tremendous amounts of energy fighting it rather then trying to figure out how to use it to their advantage. 

I understand why people may be a little reluctant to fully embrace change. Every change brings with it the possibility of something worse. To some people the risk of “worse” is just not worth the possibility of something better. 

People also fear failure. Changing your job, or changing your career or changing almost anything has the possibility of ending in complete failure and nobody wants that. 

Few people really embrace the unknown and every change brings with it a set of “unknowns.” No matter how well you’ve thought out the change there is likely to be something that you didn’t plan on. That’s more risk. 

Change also tells us that time is passing. We’re getting older. For the life of me I can’t find a single corner store with the penny candy that I so enjoyed as a kid. Now that I can buy as much penny candy as I want, without even asking my parents permission, there is no penny candy to be found. I can’t believe anyone would call that progress.

So, many people agree that for the most part, change is bad. 

But that’s because most people just habitually focus on the negative aspects of change. (Yes, I said most people and the fact that it’s sad doesn’t mean it isn’t true) We’ve all had poor experiences with change and it seems the bad outcomes are far easier to remember than the more common good outcomes. 

Stop and think for a minute about the last ten years of your life. So many things have changed that it’s hard to remember them all. Just 10 years ago the iPhone existed only in the developmental labs of Apple. Today it’s hard for many people to think of life without a Smartphone in their pocket.

It’s seems like half the people I know are now wearing some sort of fitness tracker. Just 5 years ago people would have said “a fitness what?” 

Some of us are old enough to remember getting the long distance bill. For those of you not old enough to remember that, it’s the extra bill from the telephone company for calling someone with a different area code. For those of you who are really young the area code is the first three digits of your phone number.

My how things have changed…. so many improvements we have forgotten most of them…and more things continue to change everyday. 

Today the gig economy is growing almost by the minute. A recent study by Intuit predicted that by 2020, 40 percent of American workers would be independent contractors. That’s an incredible pace of change that will affect the workplace for all Americans, not just those participating in the gig economy but anyone who works for a living.

The point is simple: everything changes with time. Everything! 

Accept change as a positive in your life, it means you’re still learning and growing. It means you’re willing to try new things and stretch yourself to reach your true potential. Accepting changes proves to yourself and others that you are willing to flex a bit as you receive new information and ideas. 

Pretty much everyone wants “things” to be better but many of those same people don’t want change in their lives.

There is no “better” without change. If you really really want better then don’t wait for change to happen, make change happen in a way that “better” is ensured.

The only way to beat change is to not fight it. Make it work for you and you’ll find it cooperates a whole lot more.

How to Grow Yourself

Generally speaking I like people. My challenge is that I like some people more than others. 

The people I like most are the ones who are most like me. They think like me, they have the same interests and hobbies as me and they even sort of look like and talk like me. 

But I also have this almost insatiable need to learn and to grow, to be challenged and to push myself. As much as I love being around people who are just like me I don’t learn that much from them. They seldom challenge my thinking and they rarely cause me to change my opinion. 

So I force myself to talk with people who I disagree with. I read the darnedest stuff written by people who are clearly off the wall with their thinking. I listen to people who are obviously wrong.

Except sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes the people who I disagree with are right. Once in a while that off the wall “junk” is invaluable in helping me see another point of view, and sometimes it’s me who is wrong. (Just to be clear, that doesn’t happen often but sometimes…)

I’d never know any of that if I just hung around people who were just like me. 

My friends and family, who I truly cherish, provide me with a stable, supportive, and caring environment which I and every other human on the planet absolutely needs. But our “group think” does little to help any of us grow.

It’s the people who wouldn’t be my first choice to spend lots of time with, the people who come from different and varying backgrounds, even the people who I outright dislike that frequently help me grow the most. 

IF I’m willing to listen and IF I’m willing to change. 

Those two “if’s” are often the biggest challenge most of us face on the journey to reach our full potential. If you’re willing to listen, to consider that you could be wrong, to believe it’s possible that someone has a better way of doing something, then you have a chance to truly grow. 

Of course, I could be wrong about all of this.

 

I’m Coming for You

(This is first ever guest post on the LeadToday blog. The writer is incredibly well-known and has been around literally forever. This writer has touched the lives of every single human being who has ever lived. They have truly seen it all. Everything this writer does makes a difference, whether or not the difference is a positive one or not is often determined by you. I am really honored they they have agreed to write for my blog; I think it’s about time they were allowed the opportunity to speak their mind.)

You have two choices where I’m concerned; you can invite me in or I’ll simply bust down your door and let myself in but one way or another I’m coming into your life. Many people have tried to stop me but I’ve never been stopped, I cannot be stopped, I will never be stopped.

Before I go any further I suppose I should introduce myself. My name is Change. While we may have never been formally introduced I’ve been present your entire life. I’ve been your best friend and your worst enemy but in either case it was you who decided which one would I be.

Every good thing that’s ever happened to you happened because of me. I suppose I’ve had a hand in some bad parts of your life too but you let me do it.

The truth is I’m not good or bad, I just am. It’s what YOU do with me that will determine the positive or negative impact I have on your life.

I always try to do what I’m told. But if I’m not given direction I just do my own thing, once in a while it works out but I must admit that’s not very often. Given the fact that I follow direction so well I’m always surprised when you don’t give me any. If I were you I’d be the boss of me, that much is absolutely certain.

I take great offense when you tell people that you hate me. Why would you possibly hate me? Every improvement you’ve ever made was made with my help. Every new thing you’ve ever tried you tried because of me. You should love me. 

You most certainly shouldn’t blame me when you don’t make a plan for how to use me to your benefit. Yes, I said use me for your benefit. I’m perfectly willing to let that happen, I even want that to happen.

I can’t promise you a better life, I can just promise you the opportunity to have one. It all depends on what you do with me when I’m hanging around. 

I knew a guy a while back, his name was Winston. He said I was always good so long as I was heading in the right direction. I guess I’d agree with that but I wish he would have added that it’s you, not me who determines my direction in your life.

When I say “I’m coming FOR you I mean just that. Let me work FOR you, if you don’t, you just might find me working against you.

 

Change is Not Optional

Most people (how’s that for a wide generalization) don’t like change. Actually, they are okay with change so long as the change doesn’t affect them personally. The worst change of course is the kind that impacts some long held belief or tradition. 

But today, in a world where “traditions” are increasingly tossed aside, where organizations are told that they must innovate or face extinction, change is not optional. The very next innovation could be the one that extends the life of your organization or sends it to the ash heap of the formerly successful innovators. 

But here’s the problem; organizations can’t innovate, only people can.

I was once asked how to teach people to be innovative. My answer was almost instinctive, I said you don’t teach people to innovate, you hire innovative people. Upon further reflection I’d answer that you hire people who care about making a difference and people who want to “leave something behind” for their organization. You then place them in an innovative environment.

Innovation is a people driven process and what makes it so challenging is that people are emotional. They constantly, if even subconsciously, balance risk with reward. 

Even though the desire to innovate may be high the need for safety and security is higher. It’s the fear of losing that security that prevents innovative people from innovating.

That’s why organizations that want to be around in 25 years require especially strong leadership. Not just strong leadership “at the top,” but strong leadership at every level of the organization. 

Those strong leaders must provide an environment where failure is not just tolerated but celebrated as a step forward and and a learning opportunity. Those leaders must provide an environment where well considered risk is not just allowed but encouraged, maybe even demanded.

Much of the technology used in business today was unimaginable by most people just 10 or 15 years ago. The speed at which technology is changing and improving is increasing literally every day. It is truly unimaginable what that technology will look like in a mere 5 years. 

This much we do know: if you’re a leader and you’re not providing your people an environment where taking thoughtful risk is encouraged and occasional failure is risk free then your people will fight the change needed to succeed tomorrow.

If you’re a leader who wants continued success then take charge of change before change takes charge of you.

 

Is all Change Good?

I’m a big fan of change. I’m particularly fond of change that doesn’t have any impact on me. I know so many things and people that need to change I couldn’t possibly list them all. But as for me and my little world, well, we’re just fine the way we are.

I really do think that way sometimes and virtually every time I do I slow my progress towards ultimate success. To me ultimate success is all about being better today than you were yesterday. No matter how good you are at something if you don’t continually try to get better eventually you’ll get worse. 

Winston Churchill is quoted often on the subject of change and he said about it, “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”  He knew that improvement was impossible without change. I see people all the time who profess to want something “different” or “better” yet refuse to accept any change in their life. 

There really isn’t any way to get better or different without something or someone changing. 

Many of the people reading this committed to some type of change at the beginning of 2016. You likely called it a “resolution.” We’re around 40% of the way through 2016 and it’s not a bad time to stop for a moment to take stock of how your change is going.

So, how you doing? 

What have you started doing and perhaps even more importantly, what have you stopped doing.  If you’re a busy person it’s very likely that you think you’re too busy to start a new habit. You’re really not, after all, there is not a person alive who has more time than you. Rather than a shortage of time what you most likely have is a shortage of prioritization skills or maybe just a shortage of priorities.

You might not like hearing that but it is what it is. 

Change, at least change in the right direction, just as often means stopping something as it does starting something. Often the hardest part about starting something new is stopping something old so that you’ll have time for the new. It is simply a question of priorities… and prioritization. 

As you move into the second half of 2016 set your sights on what truly matters to you. Those priorities can still guide you to a successful year and even more successful years in the future.

All change can be good but it’s up to you to make it so.