Navigating Change

Change. You can love it or hate it but a critical element of success is learning to navigate it.

Cultivating essential skills can give you a huge advantage over those who are unprepared. This positioning has been known to create exceptional leaders that leap from history into our minds daily because they are quoted so often; Churchill, Eisenhower, Patton, MacArthur and countless others. All of these led during times of extreme change. (And it doesn’t get much more stressful than war.)

All elite performers and leaders train hard. Technical knowledge in your field is essential but emotional control is just as important. Leading well in the midst of change requires skills – and the good news is they’re learnable. Just like you can exercise to acquire agility and reduce the pain of sore muscles that have been worked in new ways, you can develop the agility to navigate change with grace.

Change typically flips the body into the stress response. Especially if there’s some fear involved – which is the norm. I like what Mike Tyson’s trainer says about fear: “Fear is like fire. It can cook for you. It can heat your house. Or it can burn you down.”

Here are 7 ways you can position yourself to benefit from change:

1. Get the big picture. Create a forecast for the future by considering cycles and patterns. Due diligence creates an awareness of what’s coming and helps reduce the chance of getting caught unaware and unprepared.

2. Make a plan. But recognize when it’s time let go of the plan. Adaptation & flexibility are important.

3. Do the next right thing. If caught in a wave of change and your plan is washed away, take decisive action. One step at a time.

4. Be cautious as you proceed. Be aware of the danger of reacting and wasting energy and resources before you have your bearings.

5. Cultivate an attitude that recognizes the benefits of change and look for seeds of opportunity within it. Gratitude  and recognition of the things you DO have is much more productive than focusing on what you’ve lost.

6. Tap into the “team brain” (if applicable). I run full force into change with sword drawn, ready for action. One of my partners gets out the calculator, gathers information and ponders long and hard before taking action. Neither one of us have the correct approach. Different perspectives are invaluable.

7. Change the Changeable While Steadfastly Clinging to the Unchangeable. A specific exercise is to create a file on your computer or on a dedicated page in your organizer on which you make, modify, and maintain a list of those things that never change for you. Those things will be your anchor. List your core values, as an individual and in your business. (Thanks to Rabbi Daniel Lapin for this wisdom!)

The computer makes us fantastically more able to calculate, analyze and gather information, but it doesn’t make us more intuitive. We have instruments that have immeasurably extended our gift of sight, but not of insight. And it is these qualities; perception, wisdom and discernment that will serve best in navigating change effectively.