Friday, March 19, 2010

Change: Fear it or Love it - But Do it!

For the last several months I have been reading books that seem to center around Leadership, Motivation, Productivity, Management, Business Strategies.

If you know me at all, you might find this reading list a little strange, but what I have been discovering as I dig into the meat of all of this is that these authors are reacting to a great need within our society, in both the personal and business lives of their readers.

I'll sum it up in one word: Change.

We want change. We want to be better. We want more out of life than the mundane existence that seems to hover before us. We want to feel as if we are appreciated and that our talents won't be wasted. We want others to see us as we dream that we can be. We want things to be different than they are now. We want change.

But, that word scares us to death.

I posted that question to my friends on Facebook and most were fully ready to admit that they could only accept change if there was a payoff at the end. They couldn't embrace change for the sake of it. I get that!

Last week at the Camp Logos training seminar I attended, Morris Proctor said this: "Change is always initially viewed as loss."

Change is always initially viewed as loss.

He's right! I was involved in a building campaign to erect a newer, bigger facility for our church. The reaction against that change was vehement and many times practically hate-filled. What I (and many others) saw as an exciting time in the life of the church, was seen by just as many as loss. They were losing the building that they had been comfortable in, they were losing control of the path of the church, they might lose some of their money. They weren't happy with the possibility of change.

New Coke was a perfect example. The company saw a better idea for the flavor of their signature drink, implemented it and the public reacted badly. They were losing something they had been comfortable with for years and demanded that it be returned to them.

People will stay in jobs they despise because they fear change. The known pain is much easier to deal with than the possibilities that exist in the unknown.

All of this is in direct contrast, though, to the level of dissatisfaction that most of us face on a day to day basis in our lives. We complain and whine about everything that we encounter. We lament the fact that we haven't got a more exciting or fulfilling life.

I am grateful for my dad's job. Every four-six years we moved to a new community. Each time I was forced to make new friends and learn how to exist in a new environment. Change was thrust on me over and over again. The greatest piece of that education was that change always makes your life better. The circumstances might not be better, you might have just as many problems, but there is learning and experience that comes with change and that causes you to be better.

Another piece of that education was that I learned to embrace the change as rapidly as possible so as to begin life again. I didn't move into a new community crying about the friends I left behind, I moved in and began to make friends as fast as possible. I didn't move into a new house and miss my old room desperately, I moved in and made my new room a great place in which to live. I didn't cry about how successful I had been with my old teachers, I accepted that the new teachers were going to open my eyes to an entirely new world. I didn't cry about leaving behind a piano instructor that seemed to really understand my talent, I hurried to a new teacher hoping to be challenged and presented with literature I'd never experienced.

Great leaders help those around them move towards a better future (Marcus Buckingham). Great managers help their employees transform to new levels of achievement. Whether I'm reading about increasing productivity or motivating others or leadership, business or management, what I am reading is that change MUST happen or we will never grow.

It seems obvious. But, it's nearly impossible to achieve. Steven Pressfield tells us that Resistance stops us from growth. Seth Godin describes the Lizard Brain as that part of us that keeps us safe and holds us back from risk-taking.

Personally, I love change. I do like to be in control of the change. I'm compulsive that way. But, I know that in my life ... change is always better. Because I'm always better when I grow and change makes me grow.

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