Following is the second part of an article on change, what it means and how we can make it work for us and not against us.
The Way You View Is The Way You Do
The way you view the world and yourself is the way you live and move in the world. The way you view is the way you do. Change is a matter of viewing; it is as much about perception as it is about maintaining stability and security.
When I conduct seminars on the topic of transition management, I have half the audience view for about ten seconds a drawing of a young lady and the other half view for ten seconds a drawing of an old lady. These are actually two versions of the same picture. If you took both versions and put them together, you’d have a depiction of a single female person. The one half doesn’t know what the other half is seeing. I would then have the entire audience look at the amalgamated picture and tell me what they saw. In every case, a large majority of those who view the drawing of the young lady immediately prior to seeing the combined picture say they see a young lady; likewise, a large majority of those who view the old lady first say they see an old lady. Furthermore, many of these folks, when challenged to see what others saw, adamantly defended their initial perception because they were unable to see the other “lady" in the picture. It is amazing how just ten seconds can shape what you see and how you see it.
The perception we have of ourselves and the world is shaped by our need for stability and security in our lives. Driven by our need to survive both as a body and as a person we default to a perception of change as being threatening and frightening.
Of course, if we remain as we are we cannot grow beyond our self-imposed limitations and limiting notions about what we can become and the contributions we can make. Most of us realize this and do make attempts from time to time to get out of the physical, psychological and spiritual ruts that keep us traveling along the same smooth, well-worn paths within our private comfortable universe.
Unfortunately, most of our efforts to change go nowhere and wind up fueling our fears that change will be for the worse, not for the better. This failure to launch and consummate change serves to reinforce our pessimistic attitude toward it and harden our perception of the world as being antagonistic to our self-interests.
In times of failing to effect the change we want, it would be wise to remind ourselves of the words of the popular advice columnist, Ann Landers: “maturity is the ability to live in peace with that which we cannot change. " The abbreviated version of Reinhold Niebuhr’s “Serenity Prayer" is always calming in times of trouble: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. "
In order to break this cycle of resistance to change and get yourself out of your ruts, the first place to start is to alter slightly something that is familiar and routine. You could go home or to work a different way, for example. When you alter your path you shift your perception. When you change even a little you begin to see different things such that when you go back to the familiar you see things differently.
Take just ten seconds (you really won’t need any more) and concentrate on a particular behavior you exhibit and ask yourself, “why do I do this? Is it because there is absolutely no other way to do it?" Honest answers will reveal a better way, probably several – all in less than a minute!
You will also need to consider what you think is impossible under current circumstances. Think about something you believe just cannot be done right now. Perhaps it’s a way to improve an existing process, to speed it up or reengineer it for better results, or capturing a big account for the company, or any persistent nagging problem you’re dealing with at the present. As you think of these things, you are convinced they are impossible to do or to solve.
Now, imagine what would need to change in order for these impossibilities to become possibilities. Next, identify the first and all subsequent steps you need to take to make the changes necessary to turn these impossibilities into possibilities. Who else needs to be involved in planning and implementing these changes? Keep in mind that small, steady incremental steps often lead to profound change that can result in achieving what previously was thought to be impossible. Tom Peters, a popular management guru, put it this way: “most bold change is the result of a hundred thousand tiny changes that culminate in a bold product or procedure or structure. "
Approaching it from another angle, J. Paul Getty, a twentieth century oil billionaire, said, “I’d rather have a dollar from a hundred people than a $100 from one person. " When looking at the prospect of changing yourself, your organization or society, it behooves innovators to conceive the entire effort as a whole but not to perceive it as such but rather in smaller more management segments.
Here’s another good example of how to intentionally shift your perception. This regards money and wealth but it applies equally to all aspects of your life. If you want to be a millionaire, then you must think and act like one before you can become one. You must ask yourself, “how would a millionaire think about this issue I’m dealing with right now? How would a millionaire act in this situation?" You’ll soon arrive at the conclusion that there are different ways to think and act than your own. Then think and act in those ways if you see them being better than yours!
I heard someone say several years ago, “don’t write a check for any amount under $100. You must think in terms of hundreds not ones, fives or tens. This abundance consciousness eventually allowed me to attract enough money so that writing a $100 check was as painless as writing a $10.00 check a few years before. It’s now up to $1000! I’m working on $10,000 and expect to be there soon – and then go even further! Why not? “The mind once stretched by an idea can never return to its original dimensions, " said Oliver Wendell Holmes. The problem with most of us is that we refuse to entertain great ideas and allow them to stretch our minds and expand our thinking. We allow our fear of getting out of our comfort zones to get the upper hand at the very point where prosperity and abundance begin. If they’re nipped as buds in our minds, our dreams, daring thoughts and aspirations will never blossom into sweet success yielding the intoxicating nectar of joy and fulfillment.
Adopt the view that the difficulties and hardships that accompany any change are actually a part of the growth the changed state will foster. Emmet Fox, the famed spiritual advisor to many successful people, said, “it is the Law that any difficulties that can come to you at any time, no matter what they are, must be exactly what you need most at the moment, to enable you to take the next step forward by overcoming them. The only real misfortune, the only real tragedy, comes when we suffer without learning the lesson. "
You don’t have to suffer through change. You can view change as purging you of your small-mindedness and provincial self-protective attitudes so you can emerge as stronger, more clear-minded and enthusiastically focused on doing the most important activities that lead to the most rewarding outcomes.
The following acronym has been helpful to me in times of change: I C. A. N. W. I. N. ! (I Concentrate Action oN What’s Important Now!). This has helped me realize that I can participate in the change process to make it beneficial for all those affected. It shifts my normal attitude toward and perception of change from negativity to hopefulness and from dread to anticipation. Bring it on!
Ken Wallace, M. Div. , CSL has been in the organizational development field since 1973. He is a seasoned consultant, speaker and executive coach with extensive business experience in multiple industries who provides practical organizational direction and support for business leaders. A professional member of the National Speakers Association since 1989, he is also a member of the International Federation for Professional Speaking and holds the Certified Seminar Leader (CSL) professional designation awarded by the American Seminar Leaders Association.
Ken is one of only eight certified Business Systems Coaches worldwide for General Motors.
His topics include ethics, leadership, change, communication & his unique Optimal Process Design® program.
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