- Who & Why?
All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘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.
If you recall from last week’s post, this is part two of or my four-part posting regarding stagnation in all areas of our lives. As I said last week, I have Oprah as motivation and inspiration for these posts on stagnation.
Oprah has talked about this topic of stagnation in her “What I know for sure” column of her September 2014 O Magazine, “The Two Questions You Should Ask Yourself Each Day”. Oprah, whether she knows it or not, is my mentor because I have incredible respect and appreciation for her presence in this world. I am taking her topic post and going deeper and looking at it from one of my viewpoints. This method is how I decide what is the next best area that ‘sparkles with rightness’.
So last week we chatted about stagnation in our business lives. This week, let’s chat about how we tend to stagnate in our family life. For most of us, we are so busy that we tend to put our family lives last.
I know that for me, it takes constant and chronic effort to put my family first- or at least not last! I am somewhat embarrassed to admit it, but I have to “work” daily to overcome this nasty mentality (and I mean “nasty” because it never serves me well!) that my husband and family will just love me and understand me, and thus forgive me, if I’m (fill in the blank). The fill-in-the-blank ranges anything from “tired” to “short” to “mad” to “sad”.
One day I had an “ah-ha” moment and realized what I was doing. It was not pretty and it was rather shocking, I must admit. Since that day, I always have to force myself and stop and think, “is this fair to these people that I love?” The answer is always a resounding “no”. Just because people love me and will put up with me in the short term, doesn’t mean I can assume they will do so forever.
Long story, short: thinking your family will always be there and put up with you makes for a very unattractive personal brand in your entire personal life. Pretty soon, if we keep it up we will find ourselves all alone. Either that, or everyone walks on egg-shells around us and starts to whisper around us. They may as well be saying, “don’t disturb the nutty relative”.
If you can’t bring yourself to revive your stagnating personal brand in your family life, consider the impact it has on your business life. Anything you do poorly by way of a personal brand at home with your family follows you to work each and every day. I promise you this. I know when I have had a poor brand at home, it always impacts my work the next day. I then have to exercise a tremendous amount of self-awareness and control to reverse the impact.
Again, change is hard. No question about it. Change is also a bit nauseating, I have found. It is really hard for me to stop and take a long, hard look at my nasty ways at home. I have done so many times and let me tell you it is well worth the pay-off long term. It definitely takes courage.
So consider for yourself whether you have a dull and stagnate personal brand with your family:
-Have you stopped lately to notice how you come across to your family? If not, why not?
-What could possibly be the benefit of not bothering to change at home with your family?
– How can you take better care of yourself in order to feel better about yourself and pass that brand on in your interactions with your family? Perhaps you can try eating better, exercising more and sleeping a bit more each night.
– What is one action you can take to remind yourself to be self-aware of your brand around your family?
Oprah has talked about this topic of Stagnation in her “What I know for sure” column of her September 2014 O Magazine, “The Two Questions You Should Ask Yourself Each Day”. Oprah, whether she knows it or not, is my mentor because I have incredible respect and appreciation for her presence in this world. I am taking her topic post and going deeper and looking at it from one of my viewpoints. This method is how I decide what is the next best area that ‘sparkles with rightness’.
As such, this blog is part one of four in which I look at the different ways we all stagnate- in business, in friendship, in family and in our spirituality.
I’ve discovered one of the hardest things for humans is to deal with change. After all, no one wants to deal with the uncertainty and fear of something new and unfamiliar. Maintaining the status quo is so much easier and predictable.
The 1998 best-selling book, “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Dr. Spencer Johnson addresses the concept of change versus stagnation. The book is about two mice and two mouse-sized humans confronted by change because their supply of cheese in the maze is dwindling. Thus, they can only survive if they are able to go out to other parts of the maze and find new/more cheese. This practice takes bravery and courage. Dr. Johnson found that people respond to change in four ways:
- Deny or resist it
- Anticipate it
- Recognize and respond quickly to it
- Learn to overcome a fear of change and appreciate its benefits
When the recession hit, I felt deeply for people who got laid off and displaced. All of a sudden the Universe had forced people to shift and change and it was scary for everyone. By the time the recession came about, I had already quit my career as a lawyer two years prior. My same colleagues who had thought I was nuts leaving my career all of a sudden became victims of the same fate- except they had not chosen to leave the profession with free will.
You better believe that for the first several years of quitting I often felt like I was nuts for leaving my high-paying career and job: voluntarily. I had plenty of moments of doubt and confusion. I felt like I was out of my mind.
It was rough and scary and confusing. Change was not easy for me, either. However, I never felt like I had a choice to go back. It was like something was calling to me and I had to listen- or bust!
All l could do was trust that my intuition was right. The best way I can describe it was that it felt right to be running this new business.
Another gauge I had was in paying attention to my audience (clients). It was amazing to see how many people cared about my message and took it all in like a drowning man drinks water. My audience motivated me to keep going.
I kept thinking to myself, “wow, this can’t be wrong if I am striking a cord with all these people”. Plus, while the business development end was more complex to develop, the rest felt so easy- like I was exactly where I was meant to be. It was exciting and scary- I had become addicted to it and could never turn back.
I believe the recession was a wonderful reason for people to not stagnate in their careers and as humans, but rather grow and change and evolve. I’m not saying it was easy, but my experience with my client base and colleagues has found it has gotten easier and more exciting.
However, even if you have been through change in your career, odds are you have possibly settled back into your new ways and are no longer looking for change. This mentality becomes dangerous because it stunts your growth and evolution as a professional.
As humans, we are not mean to stagnate by not changing. In fact, we are created to constantly transform and grow. The most often cited goal my clients have when they come to work with me on their personal brands is that they want to be thought leaders and get more exposure and business.
Owning and exuding a personal brand of a thought-leader requires you to be creative. Being creative requires you to try new things. Trying new things means you must be open to change.
How can you start to embrace change in your professional life and have a personal brand that is not stagnate, but in fact dynamic and vibrant? Here are some ideas to get you started:
– Go out there and meet new people in and out of your industry
– Go to lunch with a colleague AND with the person you report to directly (ie, your boss). You’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you can learn from them outside the work setting.
– Talk the walk first: tell others you are “open to change in your business/career growth” and “look forward to new ventures”. In this way, people start to see you as a vibrant, dynamic person and professional. You’ll start to believe it, too.
– Find a hobby: something you’ve never tried, but can give one hour per month to explore.
– Exude a different visual brand: start dressing in more vibrant colors. Leave the black and gray in your closet- they are dull.
– Find 10 minutes a day, at least, to sit still and not think so much. Your world will evolve and your mind will expand in ways you never imagined.
– Track how often you laugh out loud or allow yourself to be happy and act happy. Increase these numbers each week.
In personal brand management, a big key to success is your ability to adapt to circumstances and change. If you aren’t flexible and dynamic, then there’s no room for you to grow, develop an effective and genuine personal brand and succeed.
Many industries are perceived as static and slow to change and grow. One in particular is the legal industry and lawyers. I work with plenty of fabulous lawyers and law firms up for the challenge of developing a personal brand that is dynamic and flexible. However, the legal industry as a whole is not viewed as such. For those of you who remember, think about the show, “Paper Chase”. Not sure that perception has changed over the decades since that show aired.
I was just at the American Bar Association (ABA) Law Practice Management (LPM) conference in Napa, California. We were working on developing a program for lawyers, when this topic came up again. As we work hard on bringing new concepts and trends to lawyers and working on helping younger lawyers see the need to be outgoing, dynamic and brand-oriented, we always keep in mind a few thing. Lawyers can be slower to change, more risk-averse and more security-oriented.
If you think about it, these generalized traits make sense. The law is about precedent and following what came before to get to a new place in the future. Legal educational institutions and firms have been around for centuries and take pride in having this longevity. I remember my international law professor had been teaching at my law school for something like 30 years by the time I took his class- and the running joke was that there hadn’t been many changes to the curriculum since he started at the law school.
However, with the longevity and prestige there is always the danger of stagnation. This stagnation comes from following precedent, becoming comfortable with “what has always work in the past” and a general fear of trying new things, growing or following new trends. Fear of the unknown is common and something I appreciate.
The way to grow and succeed, though, is via a shift in perspective. Appreciate your tried and true ways, but always keep your eyes and ears open for a new method and process. Your personal brand will thank you for it and so will your family and clientele.