Transitions can be Painful or Effortless - It's Your Choice.
I love the New Year (yes, I’m still riding that wave :)). It is often a time for new beginnings, which comes with feelings of excitement and anticipation. Looking across my rich network, I am energised and inspired by colleagues and friends starting the year in more senior positions, at new companies, and in completely new industries. A friend even decided to start the New Year partying in Dubai as he brainstorms his next venture - not a bad place to do some brainstorming! And as exciting as it can all sound, change often comes with challenges. For those embarking on a new opportunity, they wonder whether they (and/or the opportunity) will live up to their expectations. And for those setting new goals, they wonder if they will be successful.
“The only constant is change”. - iPEC Foundation Principle
Change is a funny thing. It truly is the only constant in life. Things will change. Yet, as human beings, we are generally pretty averse to it. Even when we ask for it! And it makes sense, right? The comfort of consistency is pretty sweet. Like your favourite, oldest and softest blanket keeping you warm on a chilly evening - it’s comfortable and familiar. You know exactly where to find it, how it will feel and what it will smell like. Change, on the other hand, is more like a backwards-moving rollercoaster you're riding for the first time. Even though you know (hope?) it is perfectly safe, you can’t really be 100% sure. Maybe you chose to get on the ride. Maybe you were coerced. The butterflies in your stomach don't care, either way. Because you aren’t quite sure how long or how scary the ride is. Or where and when the most dramatic turns are. At the best of times, the excitement of the ride kept you moving through the lines and into your seat. At its worst, you fear that you didn’t leave enough time for your previous meal to digest. Is this really a good idea right now?
A client of mine went through quite a change-storm this past year. Let’s call her Rachel (for confidentiality). A recent company acquisition, changes in senior management, and a large number of employee redundancies left Rachel feeling vulnerable in her role. On top of all of that, just 6 months after being promoted into a senior management position, Rachel's boss felt that she just wasn't excelling in the role and asked Rachel to redefine a new role for herself. Scary, right? One could interpret this as a hint that Rachel was also on her way out. However, with me (and others) in her corner, Rachel decided to shift her perspective. Instead of viewing the unexpected, and initially unwanted, change as a problem, she made a conscious choice to see it as an opportunity. An opportunity to not just be successful, but to do what so many people dream of - to create her dream job! Her dream job that combined her strengths, passions, and values to enable her to have the type of impact she wanted, feel valued by her company, and prioritise time with her young family. Instead of being at the effect of all these changes and assuming the worst, Rachel took charge of her own destiny. And it all started with that shift in her mindset.
Change doesn’t have to be painful - you have a choice
When we hear the word “leadership”, images of one person in charge of a group of followers comes to mind - a senior executive, a team captain, a film director. Yes, they are all leaders. However, true leadership isn't about the number of direct reports on your 360. It starts with your ability to lead yourself. After all, if you can't effectively lead yourself through life, how well can you really lead others? And while leading yourself in the good times is great, leading yourself effortlessly through the challenging twists and turns of life is a sign of truly exceptional leadership!
So... how do you effortlessly and successfully navigate these changing times? Here’s the secret - it’s rarely about what the transition is. It’s all about how you choose to show up in the face of change, i.e. your perspective and mindset. It may feel like there is no choice in the “what” (even when you choose the change). But you always have multiple choices in the “how”- and that’s where your unlimited potential lies! How you lead yourself through will either set you up for unnecessary pain or for blissful success. If Rachel chose to fester in her self-doubt and resistance to yet another change, her actions would have come from that mindset which would have resulted in a significantly different outcome. She had a choice. As do you. She chose to take a more constructive and enjoyable route, focusing on the win-win opportunity.
There are seven ways people typically "show up" during major business, career, and life changes. And therefore, seven options you can consciously choose from:
Defeated: “I’ll never get through this. I just don't have what it takes to succeed at this level. I better give up now before people start realising that I don’t have what it takes. What will they think if it doesn’t work out?”
Angry: “Why couldn’t things just stay the way they were? If only my colleagues were more skilled, we wouldn't be in this mess. I guess I'm just going to have to show everyone that I'm the only one who's got what it takes to sort this out!”
Tolerating: “Another change - I guess that's just the way it is. I’ll make it work. It will be ok. This is just the way it is now so I’ll make sure I manage things and get through this situation on the positive side. That will be good enough for me.”
In service: “I really care about making sure this change works well for my company/team/family. I appreciate this opportunity and want to support others with my newfound position, even if it’s not ideal for me”
Confident: “I am eager to learn and grow. Whatever happens, I know that this is such a great opportunity to learn more about myself. I may not like what comes, but I know it will serve me in some way so I’ll continue on and trust the process”
Joyful: “Yes, another change. I know it will be all good because we're all in this together. And because of that, our individual and collective experiences through this change will be immeasurably richer.”
Fearless: “I have no concern because I know I can create any experience that I choose, in every moment, throughout this change. Success is mine!”
Reflections + Actions
Which perspective is most similar to what you say to yourself when going through a challenging transition?
How well does that perspective serve you in your goal?
Which perspective do you wish you could have that would serve you better?
How do you choose to step into your next moment of change?
Change is here, folks! Embrace it!
Want help transitioning through a new promotion, career, or a new phase in life in a way that best sets you up for success? Let’s chat! E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or book time in my calendar.