What do you do when workplace ‘change’ happens?
For most people, “change” is a mixture of what was, what used to be, what I’m being faced with now, what I believe the future holds and what I have to change to face that future.
In short, how does this change affect me, my family, my lifestyle and my position?
That’s a hell of a lot to think about, and that’s why change is so perplexing, so resisted and, often, so fought against.
The answer to this age-old problem was discovered more than a thousand years ago and has been hidden. When Socrates said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new,” he was giving you (and me) the wisdom of the ages — and a thousand years later, it still is the wisdom of our age.
Socrates reality interpretation: The more you can concentrate your thoughts and actions on what will be tomorrow, the easier it will be for you to accept today and adapt to today, and the less likely you are to dwell on what was.
Jeffrey Gitomer interpretation: Add “forward” to the word “change,” and when something changes, think: change forward.
Known as “drinking fountain conversation” or “pity parties,” many people — not you, of course — spend 74 percent or more of their time griping, whining, blaming and lamenting any sort of change.
None of these elements will productively move you forward as a person, and all of these elements will keep your mind closed to what your new potential or opportunity might be.
Just so we’re clear, there are three predominant types of change to deal with:
1. Business or career change — which also can affect revenue.
2. Family change — both positive and negative: “We have a new child.” “I’m getting a divorce.” “My mother died.” “I’m getting married.”
3. Personal change — which can be affected by business and family changes but also can be an issue relating to neither. Think: health and finances.
In order to effectively deal with change in your life, I recommend you take a different perspective on how you look at it. My perspective always has been to look at the circumstance and call it “opportunity” rather than call it change.
That automatically makes you look toward the future, makes you look at what could be positive and points you forward to what’s next, rather than backward to what was. In other words: change forward.
When I say “opportunity,” you immediately think of something good, and subliminally, you might think, “How can I best take advantage of this opportunity?” rather than thinking, “Oh crap, the sky has fallen.”
Author’s note: Having a 5-year-old child in my life has awakened me to kids’ movies and their lessons. I recommend each of you go out and buy or rent the movie “Chicken Little.” It’s a great lesson and will help you come to the conclusion the sky is not falling. (I only watch kids’ movies now — big lessons.)
The next action is for you to identify what the opportunity is in writing. When you write things down, clarity almost immediately occurs. Writing down what happened will help you understand why it happened, and no matter if it was good or bad, it is the new reality.
Once you’ve identified the history, you have to list at least a dozen good things that can happen as a result of it. The first few will be hard — especially if there’s any anger or fear attached to your change.
Identifying the opportunities will begin to calm you down and help you realize with a combination of hope, attitude and hard work, things will get better.
They did for me. I gave myself permission to move on and move forward. No matter what the change is, keep your eyes and mind open to the opportunity and keep the faith in yourself.
Don’t fear change — change forward.
Editor’s note: This column originally ran in the Business Journal on Nov. 10, 2014.
Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of 12 best-selling books. For public event dates and information about training and seminars, visit www.gitomer.com or email Jeffrey personally at email@example.com.