Leading Change is a hot topic. Given the present pandemic, change is not an option. One of the biggest challenges is leading change in yourself. The pandemic has thrown so many curve balls that require us to change, but how about the changes that require personal leadership and not just a response?
What do I mean by this? Some people are pre-disposed to adapting and flexing without any discomfort. Others struggle. Some people are ok being led through change and others enjoy the challenge of leading others. But a lot of stress is caused when people feel that they are constantly reacting to the circumstances around them. Being able to lead yourself through change is a disposition that many are experiencing, yearning for, or simply bereft of. Anticipating that change is a constant, developing chameleon-like behaviors, and retaining serene mindfulness, are adaptive ways of leading change in yourself.
When I first learned to drive, I remember being told by a policeman friend of mine, “steer into the apex of the bend and accelerate out of it”. This driving technique seems to make sense to me. In the same way, if you can intentionally anticipate the upcoming changes of direction, position yourself appropriately, and purposefully invest your energy in the new direction, this seems to be a great way of leading change in yourself. Let us take these one at a time:
Anticipate the upcoming changes of direction
Anticipation can be a quick reflex, or it can be a deliberate plan. Leading yourself requires more of the latter and less of the former. If we are always playing catch up, then we are being led by change rather than leading ourselves through it. If, however, we reflect, research, and resolve to meet the upcoming changes with a positive mindset, we get ahead of the need to just react. Anticipation is an acceptance of the inevitable differences to the status quo. Getting prepared, planning for new solutions, and learning adaptive behaviors, will help you anticipate change. You have heard the phrase “being able to see round corners” … well how about “being the change that lies around the corner”.
Position yourself appropriately
If you do not position your car on the outside of your lane before you steer into the curve, then the curve will be much more difficult to steer around … and you will have to slow down much more. But if you anticipate what is ahead of you, your efficiency and trajectory will be much better. So, positioning yourself for the changes that life, business, and society hold in this current environment will determine how effectively you lead yourself through change. Positioning yourself appropriately implies a change. Communicate differently, work differently, and ideate differently, are all essential to lead through change. You must shift your alignment to the change – be its master, be in control, be ready for it.
Purposefully invest your energy in the new direction
Some people have a victim complex. They are the afflicted ones. Whereas those who lead change in themselves are the opportunists and optimists. Around the corner of our current predicament is a different life. It is hard to imagine that this is the last pandemic we will ever face – and I am trying not to be a doomsday prophet. New opportunities are presenting themselves, the seedbed for innovation has never been more fertile, and the future beckons. When you emerge from the apex of the curve, a new horizon presents itself. Clear vision is restored. We will get through the current pandemic crisis, and there will no doubt be many that have suffered along the way. There will also be those who feel a sense of excitement. Not only of old things returning to normal, but of new vistas. History teaches us that disasters are painful, and they are also accelerants for change. Leading change in yourself will allow you to reflect on the hardships we are all experiencing and also to be authentic in hope.
As we all journey through this time of immense challenge and turmoil, leading change in yourself is an opportunity to build strength, succor, and sustainability to our world.