I’ve always thought of myself as someone who embraces change – I like the idea of learning something new and continuing to strive for something better. I can get bored with the content of my work if there is not a new challenge or experience. In fact, much of my consulting and coaching work is related to managing change and helping others transition from the current state to a new state.
A recent change event impacted me in unexpected ways. While knowing much about the impact change has on people, it doesn’t mean that I’m personally immune to the effects of change. I’ve been surprised how my values are manifested in my attitude and energy throughout the day and discovered/rediscovered some insights.
For leaders who eat CHANGE for breakfast and think you can power through whatever comes your way, allow me to share these insights:
- Stay in tune with your values/identity – I knew I wasn’t feeling like myself, but it wasn’t until I spent time meditating – making space for self-reflection – that I realized that this change was in conflict with some core values. Knowing this didn’t make it better, but it did allow me to “name it,” which is key in identifying ways to move through the transition.
- Take time for self-care – When I’m upset by something, sometimes it can consume me and I fall out of the routine of activities that help me stay balanced and grounded. I’m defining self-care as doing something FOR YOURSELF, and it’s often done by yourself. For me, it’s things like exercise, music, reading, sleeping and movie watching. I know what makes me feel better, so I need to do those things instead of commiserating and spinning over things out of my control. When I get back to those routines, I’m on the road to recovery!
- Focus on what you can influence vs. control – Building on this theme, it’s a waste of time and energy to worry and fret over things out of my control. Things like other people’s behavior, the past or situational realities are all out of my control. Stephen Covey’s, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, introduces the concept of the “Circle of Influence,” which are our own thoughts and behaviors, and the only thing in our control. It’s hard to do at times, but can be quite liberating once you accept the reality and spend the energy in ways that pay off.
- Pay attention to your conversation – I started noticing that many of my conversations were about this change event … and I was the one initiating the topic! While there is some good from venting, if it goes on for too long, the conversation feels like Groundhog Day, which is a clue that the topic is constantly top of mind. It’s impossible to move on if the same tapes are replaying. Changing the mindset starts with changing the conversation, even if it’s just in your head, to something more productive. People pay attention to words … and words matter!
The internal transition time is different for everyone when experiencing change. However, as leaders, we are expected to lead so if I’m spending a long time in “the valley of despair,” I probably won’t be alone.
Do what you need to do for yourself to move through the transition – it will have a big impact on the team!
Martha Duesterhoft is a Partner with PeopleResults. Follow her on Twitter @mduesterhoft or connect via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.