The mere thought makes some of us want to run and hide because change almost always requires extra effort, whether that effort is to log more hours, deal with chaos for a bit, or simply change one’s attitude about something. Change takes time, energy and money, and it is usually difficult. It’s normal to be skeptical of change. That said, change also creates great opportunity.
That’s why I love this quote from American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer John Dewey, because it tells us to see change not as something that simply happens to us. We have the power to make the most out of any change that comes our way.
Dewey makes at least three critically important points here:
- Like it or not, change is going to happen.
- The more we actively learn about the change, the better.
- Once we understand it, we can use it to our benefit.
The quote reminds us that change is inevitable, but we do have the power to make change work in our best interest, or at the least, make it easier to manage and accept. It reminds us to be proactive and take action to ensure the best possible outcome.
As a leader, you are going to lead many changes. Some will be unpopular. Some you will disagree with wholeheartedly. Some will be extremely difficult. Still, you have the power to ensure a better outcome. Doing so starts with changing your own attitude about change.
Now, before you do anything else today, think about an impending change, either one that you have recently implemented, one you know is coming, or one you know you have to make but haven’t yet. Ask yourself these questions:
- What are my typical thoughts and feelings about change? (Be honest. Are you naturally a change resistor? Or do you see the opportunity in change?)
- What change am I facing today?
- How can I learn more about the change?
- What else do I need to know?
- What are the pros and cons of the change?
- What can I do to minimize the negatives?
- How can I present this change to my team and avoid backlash?
- How can I direct the change in a way that benefits my team and me?
By answering those questions, you essentially create a plan for presenting the change to your team and executing it in a way that minimizes disruptions and increases employee buy-in.