- Who & Why?
Category Archive for: ‘Change’
Sometimes I feel mesmerized with the concept of “change”. I’m always doing my best to be self-aware of where I’m resistant to change and where I welcome, and adapt to, change.
Take my travel schedule. I was just on my way to Chicago last week for a 22 hour trip. I was set to arrive at 3:30pm and make it just in time to a reception at 5pm, followed by a group dinner.
However, my schedule didn’t have the same plans that I did for me. On my outbound flight trip to Chicago, we got delayed due to fog. Long story short, I didn’t make it to Chicago until 6pm and barely made it to my group dinner on time, let alone the reception beforehand.
As I was standing in the airport delayed, the amount of our delay kept changing: first we were 30 minutes delayed, then we were 45 minutes delayed, then we were an hour and 15 minutes delayed. We even had a “reverse-delay” as I call it: they shaved 5 minutes off our delayed take-off time!
I was very self-aware during the entire time I was standing at the airport monitoring all of these delays, including the final one in my favor by 5 minutes. I stopped and assessed my real choices in that moment. With each new delay, I could tell I had a choice to “accept” this new change in my travel schedule or resist it.
You’re probably wondering how I could have resisted being delayed each time it happened. It’s not like I could fly on my own without the airline. I suppose I could have gone to another airline in an attempt to fly sooner, but who really does that?
However, resistance in that moment would have looked like me getting upset and angry and then victimizing myself- “This always happens when I fly” or “Why me? I have to get to Chicago”.
Had I resisted, the outcome of the flight would not have changed- I flew when the airline told me I could. However had I resisted, the outcome of my experience would have been vastly different. I would have felt really out of control and angry.
In that moment, I had a choice to see the delays differently. How?
Instead of resisting the delays, I adapted and accepted the delays. I pulled out my laptop, got two hours of solid work done and ate some breakfast. I even had time to people watch and check the weather in Chicago. I felt productive and quiet content. Most importantly, I was not a victim and felt in control of my life and time. I was happy!
“Change” is defined in the dictionary as a noun meaning, “the act or instance of making or becoming different”. What this means for me is that when I’m faced with a change, I can see it as an opportunity to be different. Different is often scary, I know. However, in each moment of my life I have a choice to choose to see thing differently, be different and as a result, change and grow.
Choosing to be different in each moment you are presented with a change smacks of evolution, in my opinion. “Evolution” is defined in part as the process of growth and development.
So what does this mean for you? Stop and consider:
- Where in your life are you fearful of change? Do you even know you are fearful?
- Where in your life are you resistant to anything new or different?
- Is this way of being really leaving you happy and evolved? Or are you fooling yourself by believing you are safe if you stay in your comfort zone and ignore/resist anything new?
- How will you know if something new could work for you if you don’t adapt and change and choose to see things differently for yourself? Do you want life to always be a mystery that passed you by or do you want to be courageous and try on something new and grow and develop?
Within organizations the one thing you can count on is change. Change is inevitable.
It comes often and is often painful. In the branding world, change is an indicator of brand flexibility: brands that go with change, evolve and survive to thrive. Brands that don’t bend with the wind, die out.
What kind of changes are we talking about? Such changes include a) reorganizational changes of any kind, like changes in management, buy-outs, downsizing due to economic factors or due to innovation b) technological changes leading to obsolescence c) pure economy dictated changes.
What do all these changes involve? Employees. Your best advantage and greatest asset- your talent pool.
Here’s the problem: The 2013 Gallup State of the Global Workplace report found that only 13% of employees are engaged at work. Engagement equals productivity.
So what are the hurdles to employee engagement and productivity due to change? Here’s what I’ve found happens when there is any internal change- and there will always be internal change:
- There is a fundamental shift in brand values due to change in management- often this is accompanied by mass confusion, often subconscious, among the employee pool. Why? Read on.
- There is no focus on the notion of building the “internal” brand first- since the brand of the employees/agents is behind the company brand and comes first, it pays to develop the employee brand first- this involves direct communication to the employees and inclusion of the employees in the brand value process. Leadership must engage employees in the exercise of discovering their values that coincide with the shift in brand values of the new management.
- There is a strong possibility that employees/agents go rogue and drift away from the corporate brand representation.
So what is management supposed to do about this? The first step is that “management” needs to stop thinking like “management” and start thinking like “leadership”. This means first and foremost having conscious awareness that a shift has occurred. This shift may not be well understood or accepted by your employees.
Next, leadership needs to take steps to make sure the brand values shift is a) communicated well and b) open to revision by employees c) based on the ability to have the employees develop their own brand values and contribute to the new direction of the company’s brand. This is where I come in to assist the leadership team.
What happens if management does not become leadership and apply these steps? From my experience, the best that can happen is employees leave the company. The worst that can happen is that employees stay, become disgruntled which in turn leads to apathy, lack of productivity, and low morale. All of this inevitably leads to a decline in profits.
So what does this mean for you?
If your organization is going through change, make sure you consider your employee brand values. They must be in sync with your organizational shifts and the brand value changes they bring. These changes must be communicated to your employees and your employees given the ability to participate in creating the evolved organizational brand culture.
As humans, we are not very good with change. Of course, we all know why. What’s known is comfortable. Anytime we have to give up our comfort zone, we get stressed and scared.
Looking back on my change in career, it was scary. Once I knew that I wasn’t meant to practice law anymore, but to do something else with my natural talents and abilities to be of service to professionals, it still wasn’t a fast and easy change/transition. It too me so long to really “own” that I wasn’t practicing law anymore- and that I didn’t want to practice law anymore. It required me to give up identifying with being a lawyer. It was like someone had stripped my identity, not to mention my cushy income stream.
If I wasn’t a lawyer, then who was I? It wasn’t until the day that I stopped identifying with what I did for a living, and started identifying with who I AM, that I started to love the change. It took several years to get there, though. You know what they say about overnight success.
Brands that are open to change and flexible with change are dynamic brands that endure. These people also have brands that draw in others to them for this very same reason: if someone fears change, they’ll love being around those who are braver than them.
What does this mean for you, your brand and your business/career? Stop and ask yourself:
- How often do you face change and just move forward, trusting your gut that you are on the right track, instead of living in fear?
- How often do you implement change at work? If you have employees that respond to change by saying, “are we changing that again?” or “we liked the old way”, then you need to rethink your employee pool. Either re-train them or get new employees that are more flexible and can go with the flow of change.
The leaves keep changing in deliberate nature this October. So we, too, continue our Deliberate Brand Creation process this third week of October. As I’ve written in the past two blog posts, I’m continuing to put my own spin on Oprah’s October 2014, “What I Know For Sure” column in her O Magazine. I have a lot of appreciation and respect for Oprah’s presence.
This week, let’s explore how your quirks and oddities are the stuff of your deliberate brand. As Oprah wrote in her column noted above, when she was younger she would go to parties. She would feel compelled to stay at a party even if she had enough of being there and would rather go home. Why? In part, Oprah says it was because she considered herself quirky to want to run home and be alone.
Perhaps the biggest “why” question here is why we can’t “own” our quirks? I think the short answer is partly lack of self-awareness and partly fear.
No one wants to be different and stick out. We all strive to fit in. If I think back to a time when I really tried to fit it, I am taken back to high school. I hated high school. I was always so different and didn’t really fit in. It was hard being me.
I stuck out for so many reasons: I had olive complexion when it seemed everyone else had blonde hair and light eyes; my first and last name was hard to pronounce (it wasn’t like my name rolled off the American tongue like “Jane Smith”); while my parents were very flexible with me and tried to “go with” the culture and mentality of midwestern/Indiana thinking, we still had different customs and rituals; and we lived in the most affluent suburb of Indianapolis, making it harder to be “cool” and fit in. Most importantly, I always felt quirky because I could never ever understand why all those other high school kids rebelled all the time- drinking, smoking, sex, parties. Were they suffocating at home, somehow?
Regardless of what I thought and how hard I tried, I was hiding who I really was. I wasn’t even self-aware enough to know why I was hiding. Looking back at my list above, I’m now really relishing my olive complexion, my first and last name and my background and nationality. I use it as part of my unique selling proposition and story to stand out and be genuine and different. It works!
However why do we, even as adults, try so hard to deny our quirks and eccentricities? What if you decided for just one day to really “own” your quirks, be proud of the eccentricities and not deny any of it? Would the world stop? Who cares if someone doesn’t “like” or “accept” you? Do they matter more in this world than you (and your happiness) do? I doubt it.
I get the fear factor. I lived it and live it every day. However, our personal brand growth is grounded in being self-aware enough to feel the fear and doing “it” anyway- whatever your “it” is.
So just for one day, I ask you to be self-aware, own your quirks and see what happens. If you love to eat licorice, go for it! If you like to decipher license plates, go for it! If you love the Smurfs, go for it! Just remember to tell us all about it so we can be your biggest champ, respect you and get to know your real personal brand.
October kicks off the month of “Deliberate Brand Creation” for us. Fall is in the air- time for change and growth as nature deliberately changes shades and seasons.
Once again, this month’s topic is inspired by Oprah’s October 2014, “What I Know For Sure” column in her O Magazine. As I’ve said in the past, I have a lot of appreciation and respect for Oprah’s presence in this world. So I really loved her topic this month and want to put my spin on it and apply it to personal branding to find that “sparkle of rightness” for all of us.
In her October column, Oprah notes that she likes to spend time alone, being alone with her thoughts. She notes that she craves silence and stillness to offset her crazy schedule, where she can’t always be fully present.
This got me really thinking. How often are we really ever alone (versus “lonely”)?
The word, “lonely” is such a sad word. Let’s face it, no one wants to be “lonely”. I’ve been there and still go there, because I’m human! Being lonely used to feel way more natural for me than being “alone”. I know I’m heading to a dark, ugly place when I feel “lonely”. It gives me the chance to have a pity party for myself and be a victim. Claiming, “I’m lonely” means I “don’t have” lots of things: friends, a supportive spouse and/or family, and happiness! Of course, I do have all those things- if I stopped being a victim long enough to notice.
Even when I don’t feel “lonely”, I often avoid being “alone” by creating t0-do lists for myself. My lists and errands ensure I am always running full steam ahead and can avoid being present. But let’s face it, at the end of the day these lists and errands leave me tired, cranky and wondering where did my day (and peace) go? I must admit, I’ve gotten so much better at being alone over the years. It started with short meditations, but now I find I drive around without the radio on in my car because I enjoy the silence. It allows me to hear my own inner voice and relax.
There’s no power in being lonely. There’s just a lot of scarcity and “don’t have”. It also means we’ve created a very unattractive personal brand when we are “lonely”. No one wants to be around someone who is lonely. We subconsciously assume if you’re lonely, then you are needy, too. Makes sense to me. I know when I’m lonely, I tend to be needy and rather illogical in my actions as a result. Who wants to be around someone whose personal brand is lonely,needy and illogical? Yikes!
On the other hand, as Oprah finds,there is such power in being alone with our thoughts. Choosing to be “alone” is attractive in so many ways as a personal brand. By choosing to be alone as a personal brand, you are saying:
– I am strong and know what I need;
– I don’t have to be around others to feel better and feel loved;
– I want to be (and can handle being) alone with my thoughts;
– I am a creative person who knows how to independently create;
– I am in control of my life and my career because I take time to be fully present and still.
So ask yourself:
– How often do you sit still and be alone with yourself and your thoughts?
– Why or why not? If you don’t do so very often, what about being alone scares you- the loneliness or the fabulous possibilities that may come from sitting still?