The ability to change and adapt

While reading a recent blog on how people went about identifying the one thing that stops them from succeeding I was struck by a trend in all the comments. While the focus of the article was on how many people don’t actually identify what it is that is holding them back and therefore they cannot address that issue; the trend appeared to be that the real challenge for people is making a change and adapting to something different. The real issue may be that most people are risk averse and would rather stay where they are, even at a risk of extinction that risk all for something better.

Yes, we may understand what it is that holds us back and yes we may know what we need to do to change that, but will we make the change? Will we take a risk and put everything we have and everything we know on the line to learn something new?

How many people wake up and regularly find themselves saying I just wish I could be doing . . . .? Wishing will not get you there, nor will planning, nor will motivational courses, programs, DVD’s or seminars. The one thing you need to do to change direction is to reduce the risk – to yourself and to those that you care about.

While there is a high level of risk then people will do anything to avoid change. Managers should think about this when they try to implement change programs. How many consider how to go about reducing risk to others on their teams?

By all means identify your weakness or the barriers that hold you back and at the same time give consideration to what the risks are to you and what you need to do to reduce the risk. How do you make it as safe as possible to change without making it so safe that you remain wherever you don’t want to be?

It could be a financial risk, you may have a commitment to a high mortgage. Maybe to reduce the risk you need to rearrange your finances, increase your savings, have a second income or bring in an investment partner. It may be your wife, husband or partner is concerned about your lack of knowledge and experience for your next step. Look for mentors or coaches to guide you or complete some study, may work part time in a sector to gain knowledge.

There are many ways you can reduce the risk and when you do that the path forward will appear feasible. Others will jump on board to support you when they can see the level of risk is lower.

Making a change always entails risk. You will never fully eliminate the risk associated with change however there may be a lot things you can do, that you might not have considered. The first step is to grab a sheet of paper, create two columns and in the left column right down your fears and the fears of others. In the right column write down all the things, no matter how small you could do to reduce the level of risk and fear. You must get the fears out of your head where they are driven by emotion and onto a piece of paper where you can approach them in a rational manner.

Managers can do the same thing when introducing a change program. Instead of issuing an edict telling your people that they need to change; instead sit down with them, talk through the process of change, let them share their fears and concerns with the group, take notes of each individual’s concerns (their risk level) and then do two things. Work with each individual to help them develop strategies to reduce their risk while bringing the team together on a regular basis to share stories, provide support and encouragement and let the early adaptors demonstrate to those still waiting that change, when the transition is well managed, is not something to be feared.

Those are my thoughts for the day

Let The Journey Continue

John Coxon


About John Coxon

Principal consultant for John Coxon & Associates, a management consultancy working with boards and management teams in healthcare, aged care and not for profit organisations to develop effective strategic planning processes and social enterprise business plans
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