“Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights.” ~ Pauline Kezer
Out of change comes growth and yet change is something many people will fight to the very end. It important for us to recognize that change is constant and necessary. So why is change something that we don’t always welcome? Well certainly the answer to that lies in the truth that we have all experienced change that didn’t turn out so well and this has caused many people to become very apprehensive to change. A lot of people have fallen for the promise of “hope and change” and are now standing on a street corner hoping for some change.
Let’s look at our current scenario a little deeper though. Even though nationally, there are a lot of people who now find themselves out of work, perhaps homeless, and with little hope left, there are also a number of people who went through layoffs, down-sizing and closures that now find their lives much better than before. How can that be explained when so many lives are now in turmoil? I think the answer lies in so many old adages that we are all familiar with; change is what you make it, when life gives you lemons make lemonade and when a caterpillar dies a butterfly is born. In other words, while most people see change as bad, especially when it means there are hiccups along the way as there usually are, others see change for what it is, an opportunity for growth, and they take their lives to the next level.
Change is going to happen every day and every change will carry with either a positive effect or a negative effect. What so many people miss is that whether the effects of change are positive or negative is often almost entirely up to us. I think when you boil change down to its’ essence, there are three key ingredients to making change positive; preparation, attitude and execution.
PREPARATION – Change is easy to prepare for when you know its coming. Think about the seasonal changes that occur every year. We know at a certain point on the calendar, we need to winterize our vehicles and change our wardrobes. Unfortunately, even though we know it’s coming, many people still fail to prepare for inevitable change. But its unknown change that really need to prepare for. Those unfortunate souls that find themselves standing on the street corners failed to prepare. They weren’t ready financially or emotionally when negative change happened to them. Either they didn’t see the change coming or they did see it coming and still didn’t take action. Preparation is a key ingredient to success, especially when we are facing change.
When the housing bubble burst and the economy began to look bleak at the tail end of 2008, the company I work for took measures to prepare. The board members put a moratorium on spending. We stopped all plans for expansion and acquisitions. We sold off a few remote locations. We managed to take measures that improved our company credit rating which afforded us money at cheaper rates. We implemented very aggressive specials to our customer base. These key proactive steps of preparation are what is today enabling us the ability to experience our biggest year of growth ever. It’s this kind of proactive preparation that turns change, in this case economic change, from negative change into positive change. It was painful at the time and sacrifices had to be made, but in the long term, it proved to be very positive for our company.
One thing to always remember about preparation – proactive is always better than reactive. Look to the future and begin preparing now for change that will inevitably happen tomorrow. Negative people might say, “But what if you do all that preparation and the change never happens.” It’s like this; if I have a six month supply of bottled water in my garage for an emergency and that emergency never occurs, then I won’t need to be buying any bottled water for a while, will I? I’d much rather have it and not need than need it and not have it.
ATTITUDE – A few weeks ago I wrote about Victor Frankl, the Jewish psychologist that survived the Nazi concentration camps of World War II. Frankl credits his survival to his attitude. He determined that the one thing the Nazis could take from him was his attitude. One of his many famous quotes is, “attitude is the last of human freedoms.” Your attitude is what you choose it to be. One of Andy Andrews’ Seven Decision is “Today I will choose to be happy”. He chronicles this in his book, The Traveler’s Gift with the story of Anne Frank, another Jewish victim of the Holocaust. Even though her life was diminished to hiding in an attic, Anne Frank found happiness every day in the solace that she was still with her family, she had a tiny window to look out of, and there was a family trying to protect them.
Attitude is the most important thing any of us will ever possess and the importance is magnified when facing change. If we know change is inevitable, we might as well do everything we can to make that change a positive experience and doing so begins with having a positive mental attitude. If Anne Frank could do so when facing the life she was dealt, then how can we expect any less from ourselves?
A funny thing about attitude – what you focus on expands. And when you think about it, what is attitude if not focus? If our attitude or focus about change is concentrated on how negative it might be, then it probably will be. But there’s another funny thing about attitude – no one can change it for you, you have to change it yourself. If change is going to be positive, it’s up to us to make it so.
EXECUTION – So we’ve prepared for change and we’re positive of the outcome; what could go wrong, right? What could go wrong is that we fail to exercise proper execution. Going back to the example of the six month supply of bottled water, if I use it to take a bath in, it’s probably not going to last six months. I had a plan; I was prepared for it, I had the right attitude for it, but I failed to execute properly, therefore, the change that should have turned out positive will turn out negative.
Execution is all about staying the course, maintaining the right attitude and also making adjustments when needed. In other words, in order to make change successful, you must be ready to change along the way. You must expect the unexpected and adapt to it. We humans have a tendency to revert back to the status quo because it’s what we know – it’s what we’re comfortable with, but if status quo is the goal, then it isn’t change, is it? Without proper execution, all of the preparation and having the right attitude won’t make much difference.
Think about change as a three-legged stool; preparation, attitude and execution. Remove any one of those three legs and the stool will topple.
What can you do right now to prepare for your next big change?
Monty Rainey is a District Manager with over 14 years in the self storage industry currently overseeing 21 stores in the Austin & San Antonio, TX area. He is also a leadership coach and public speaker. For a free consultation, please contact Monty at 830-743-2139 or visit his website at http://www.montyrainey.com .
- Additude is the key. (montyrainey.wordpress.com)