Complaining that everything is changing too rapidly is like complaining that rocks are hard. It’s true but useless.
Almost no one likes change, except perhaps the baby with a dirty diaper. Change is always stressful and challenging. Even good change can be difficult.
So it’s no wonder that the two most common responses to change are denial and resistance. Some people pretend it doesn’t exist, and some people fight it, but most people try both approaches. The trouble is–both denial and resistance are fairly useless responses.
ALL DENIAL CAN DO IS SHIELD YOU FROM THE TRUTH, and the truth always comes out — sometime, somewhere, anyway. As an example, people believed for hundreds of years that Aristotle was right when he said that the heavier an object happened to be, the faster it would fall to the earth. People believed Aristotle was one of the greatest thinkers of all time, so no one ever thought any differently. He couldn’t be wrong.
All it would have taken was for one brave individual to take two objects, one heavy and one light, and drop them from a great height to see whether or not the heavier object landed first. But no one challenged Aristotle for 2000 years.
It wasn’t until 1589 that Galileo brought some professors with him to the Tower of Pisa. They went to the top and pushed off a ten-pound weight and one-pound weight. They both hit the ground at the same time. But the power of denial was so strong that the professors denied what they saw and continued to teach that Aristotle was right.
On the other hand, ALL RESISTANCE CAN DO IS SLOW YOU DOWN. It prevents you from getting in when the getting is good. It’s a mistake that resistors often make, but successful entrepreneurs seldom do.
For example, in 1829, Martin Van Buren, the governor of New York wrote to the President. He wrote, “The canal system of this country is being threatened by the spread of a new form of transportation known as railroads. As you may well know, railroad carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour by engines, which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speeds.” Sometime later Van Buren was elected to the Presidency. But I wonder if his resistance to change was what made him such an ineffective President.
Along similar lines, many of you who read my Tuesday Tips have attended one or more of my programs. You’ve heard me talk about how to be more effective in the midst of change.
But do you know that the first management conference ever held was in 1882, sponsored by the German Post Office? Only CEO’s were invited, and the topic was “how not to be afraid of the telephone.” Nobody showed up. The invitees were insulted. The idea that they should use a telephone was unthinkable. It was only for underlings. Again I wonder how many opportunities passed by those CEO’s because they resisted the change and got on board later instead of sooner.
If you’re going to be a master of change, if you’re going to profit from change, I suggest you let go of denial and get past resistance as fast as possible. ACCEPT THE TRUTH. CHANGE WON’T GO AWAY. Life is not a movie with a neat ending, Today, change is more like a serial. It’s never over. And you’ve got to be ready to battle formidable competitors, every day, forever, without a break.
And how do you know if you’ve accepted that truth? Ask yourself one question. Have you ever thought, “If I can just hang on a few more weeks and get through this change, I can get back to normal?” If so, you’re in trouble. You’ve got to accept reality — that change won’t go away. The change will never be over.
Then FORGET YOUR OLD PROTECTIONS. In the midst of change, even the rules change. What saved you in the past will not save you in the future. In the past, your good performance may have guaranteed a job, and that worked as long as the world stayed pretty much the same. These days, your knowledge and skills can become outdated so rapidly that your good performance may soon become irrelevant performance — if you’re not in a mode of continuing education.
Likewise, don’t expect your longevity to save you from the demands of change. Some people think, “I’ve worked for this company for 26 years, and they owe me.” No they don’t. When you got your last paycheck, the company was all caught up. They don’t owe you anymore. Traditional definitions of longevity and loyalty just don’t apply anymore.
Don’t waste any more time denying or resisting change. Instead, spend your energy focusing on how to be successful in the midst of change.
Action: Identify two significant changes in your industry or profession. Select changes where you know you’ve got some work to do, where your knowledge and skills need some updating. Write down five things you will do in the next month to update your knowledge and skills. Now go out and do them.