Change is never a clear-cut process but understanding the 5 Truths of Change will definitely help everyday leader lead with knowledge and understanding.
Here are the 5 Truth of Change:
Truth #1 -Change Is Ongoing
This simple truth may sound logical, but I can assure you that many people do not acknowledge this truth. As you journey through the change in your life you will discover that significant change involves uncertainty, ambiguity, and at times lacks clarity. You may start out in the change process with an idea of what the change will look like, but after a few days, weeks, or months, you may begin to lose focus of the change in your life. As you journey through this change you will need to constantly clarify why you are making the change in your life.
You will need to continually work at the change process as you will encounter setbacks. The goal is to continually hold the vision of what the change will look like when you conquer it. An example to illustrate this truth is to examine a person who is attempting to quit smoking. Quitting smoking is a major life change for an individual. As a person begins to quit, they will have a clear understanding as to why they need to quit (healthier lifestyle, avoid illnesses, etc.) As the change process takes place, the individual will encounter setbacks. For instance, many smokers have difficulty being in social situations where their peers are smoking and therefore often resort to having a cigarette. Furthermore as a smoker goes through withdrawal, they will experience temptations and cravings.
Often, they will begin to question why they need to change. They will be in constant struggle with their Inner Terrorist. This internal battle will continue until the person has infinitely abandoned smoking. As time passes, this person will continually be presented with experiences that will challenge the change process. The key is to remember that the process of change is ongoing. If you encounter a setback, do not allow it to abolish the change altogether. Continue with the change in the matter how many setbacks you experience. When undergoing a major change in life, many people often lose focus and lack clarity because they assume that change should take place immediately. This is not the case!
Remember: When encountering change in your life, reframe your mind from the perspective that you will need to embrace the change as an ongoing process. Effective change takes time!
Truth #2 - Conflict In The Change Process Is Essential
I have discovered that one of the most fundamental mistakes people make when encountering change is that they perceive conflict in the change process as negative. Conflict is essential to positive change because before change can take place, people need to identify their conflicting feelings. How many times have you witnessed change in your life where conflict was avoided? We frequently see this take place in work settings. For instance, when change takes place in a work environment it often causes conflict. People who oppose the change often possess strong feelings of resistance to the change implementation. Some people may feel comfortable with the status quo and feel the change in the workplace is unnecessary. They may challenge the change process or avoid it.
If their feelings are not recognized and challenged through a formal process, often the change being implemented will be ineffective. If the conflict is avoided, it often will result in a negative work environment. People may feel as if they do not have a voice and that their feelings are being discounted. They may hold negative discussions with their colleagues “behind closed doors.” Rumors may begin to spread, and the negativity may permeate throughout the environment. If the conflict is not challenged, the environment may manifest into physical, emotional, and mental problems, such as a producing unproductive work, avoidance of employer and colleagues, and a break down in team communication. It is important to acknowledge that conflict does not always have to be resolved through consensus, but everyone within the working environment must feel as if they have been heard and acknowledged. If the change being implemented is clearly identified as a result of the organization’s purpose, people may not agree with the change, but they may understand why the change is occurring.
In terms of change in a personal situation, again healthy conflict must occur if successful change is to take place. To illustrate this point I'm going to tell you of a brief story regarding a young lady who wanted to change her direction in life. This lady was extremely talented in story writing, but she did not want to quit her current position as an administrative assistant because she feared the change in her life (three potent alliances- worry, anger, doubt crept in). As she was working as an administrative assistant, she started to attend workshops designed to produce story books for children.
Once she started to create a life map for herself, she developed into a confident individual who started to write children's books. Her greatest fear was the conflict that she was going to encounter when she imparted her plan to her family. She struggled for over six months with how to convey her passion of writing to her family. She believed that her husband would not support her endeavor because of his need for stability and financial security. After creating your vision, she realized that she must conquer her fear of conflict before she could make her significant change work successfully. She informed her husband of the change in her life by explaining her vision to him.
Although her husband didn't personally agree with the decision, he was able to share his feelings and concerns. After a lengthy discussion with his wife, the husband supported her because he understood her desire and purpose. Over time, he embraced her change. It was not until she could challenge the conflict in her life that she was able to free herself of her fear and progress forward.
It is important to acknowledge that the conflict a person experiences does not always have to do with another individual. Often the conflict we experience has to deal with our own inner conflicting feelings. This is why journaling is so effective. It provides us with an opportunity to acknowledge our inner feelings. Often, when a individuals journal or write reflections regarding events in their life, often feel a sense of liberation.
Remember: Conflict may be difficult at first, but it can create significant, positive change. When a person hides behind conflict, they are choosing to encounter negative consequences.
Truth #3 – Change Must Have a Plan
When creating a detailed plan, it produces results. One of my great joys is in life is to witness people make significant positive change in their life. When I have people inform me of a change that they want to make, I often ask them how they are going to accomplish their change. Frequently, the response lacks any sense of direction. These individuals truly believe that because they want to change, it automatically insinuates that they will be successful.
I have encountered many individuals in organizations who have experienced changes that have occurred but were poorly implemented because a strategic plan was not established. The same is true when planning for a personal change. When a person constructs a detailed plan, (as you will construct your life map in journeying through this book), they will have identified where they are going and how they will get there.
Some men see things as they are and say, "Why?" I dream of things that never were and say, "Why not?–George Bernard Shaw
Truth #4 – Every Change Will Experience Setbacks
I have already alluded to this Truth earlier, but it is worth elaborating on. One strategy that is extremely effective when encountering a change in your life is to brainstorm possible setbacks that may prevent you from achieving the change. When I am encountering a significant change in my life I will sit down with my Personal Global Personal Support System (what I call my GPS team) team and brainstorm possible setbacks and solutions. Of course, no one can predict all of the setbacks in a person's life, but it certainly can alleviates stress in the change process as many of the setbacks can be identified. I have found that when I encounter a setback, I have already created a solution for dealing with it.
Throughout history, there has never been an instance where change (no matter how substantial or minute) has been carried out successfully without setbacks interrupting the process. If we analyze the example in the two previous roadblocks regarding the weight loss, we will see this point further clarified. After identifying the actions we need to take in order to lose weight, and carrying out those actions, a person who is trying to lose weight must acknowledge the potential setbacks in their journey.
For instance, what will a person do if they cheat and eat when they are not supposed to? What if they stop exercising for an extended period of time? What if they are experiencing a craving at 2 a.m. and begin to binge each? If an individual encounters any of these situations, they will be able to follow back on their action plan. Once a setback is identified, a solution can be created through an action plan. For instance, their action plan may include revisiting the three conscious notes.
First, they will visualize their end result, specifically what they are going to look like after they lose the weight. Second, they will consciously tell themselves that they can make this change as outlined by their actions they set in motion.
Third, they will make it happen by revisiting their action plan as well as engage in discussions with individuals who will support them and provide the necessary confidence to continue the change journey (Direction #6). They will recognize that just because they experience one setback, does not mean that they have failed. They will of knowledge that every day is a new day that will consist of new opportunities. They will understand that any setback they encounter will be turned into a learning experience.
Truth # 5 – Change Must Focus On a Positive Outcome
When focusing on change we tend to spend our energy on the negative aspects of the setbacks we encounter. When trying to implement positive change, it is absolutely essential to focus on the growth we are making as opposed to the negative aspects of our setbacks. In fact, once a person identifies potential setbacks, the next step is to celebrate each positive step or benchmark in the change process.
Whenever I encounter change in my own life, I will often set small benchmarks at which point I celebrate. The celebration can be in the form of purchasing material possessions, going out for dinner with a loved one, or sharing your celebration with a friend. The point of celebration is to acknowledge the progress you are making. Rather than rewarding yourself at the end of the change which can often take an abundance of time, it is important to set up small rewards and build on each one.
Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future – John F. Kennedy
Change is a process. It will encounter fluctuations in terms of experiencing setbacks (not following the action plan we set out for ourselves or encountering unforeseen circumstances) and accomplishments (seeing change take place). We must understand that setbacks are not failures, but rather they are part of nature and must be expected. It is how a person deals with the setbacks that will determine their end result. When a person embarks on a change, they are going to have to make some adjustments to their lifestyle.
That is why it is absolutely essential for a person to establish a strategy for thier life. Most people who do not have a formal direction or plan will often resign from the change, or not follow through with it because they are not prepared to deal it. By establishing a clear vision, a person will know what they believe in, visualize their outcome, and live their actions. When they experience a roadblock or setback, they will simply follow their personal directions as established in their strategy.