Four Tips For Handling Major Change

“I have learned to use the word ‘impossible’ with the greatest caution.”
Wernher von Braun, rocket scientist

In case you haven’t noticed, a new world of business is being created all around us. Old boundaries and borders are disappearing. And as John Van Doorn said in “World Business” magazine, “No wall, no river, no bureaucracy, no chauvinistic principles can break it (this new world of business).”

Just as there are more nations participating in the Olympic Games than ever before, there are more nations producing and selling their products and services throughout the world than ever before. Global change is a major reality for everyone on earth today. And that includes YOU.

So how should you respond to such monumental change?

=> 1. Refuse to whine about it.

In “The 12 New Rules For Living,” Frederic M. Hudson states, “Rule: Don’t whine! Pursue the benefits of change. They outnumber the problems.”

Of course, lots of people would dispute that statement. In fact, most people envision a successful life as a secure one. However, outside of your spiritual faith, there is nothing and there is no one who can assure you of security. As psychologist Denis Waitley notes, “The only truly secure person is one lying horizontally, six feet underground. Life is inherently risky.”

So whining about change is about as useful as complaining that a rock is hard. It’s a waste of time. Take consultant Mitch Carnell’s advice. He advises, “Spend no energy lamenting the good old days. They are not making a return visit.”

Instead of whining…

=> 2. Recognize the fact that nothing is impossible.

Mary Johnson, my marketing director for the last 18 years, just gave me an example of that. She wanted to improve her posture as well as her great customer service. So she began to use one of my affirmation techniques about a year ago. She began affirming, “I stand tall in my love and service to others.”

Coming back from her physical this week, her doctors were baffled. In fact they were so shocked that they checked her height again and again… and they checked her records from the last several years. Since her last physical, she now stood one inch taller than ever before. So nothing is impossible.

And yet, how many times have you heard people say, “That could never happen?” or “That’s impossible.”

For example, look at what people were saying back in 1955 and look at what happened. People were saying…

–“I’ll tell you one thing, if things keep going the way they are, it’s going to be impossible to buy a week’s groceries for $20.”

–“Have you seen the new cars coming out next year? It won’t be long before $2000 will only buy a used one.”

–“If cigarettes keep going up in price, I’m going to quit. A quarter a pack is ridiculous.”

–“Did you hear the post office is thinking about charging a dime just to mail a letter?”

–“If they raise the minimum wage to $1, nobody will be able to hire outside help at the store.”

–“When I first started driving, who would have thought gas would someday cost 29 cents a gallon? Guess we’d be better off leaving the car in the garage.”

–“Kids today are impossible. Those duck tail hair cuts make it impossible to stay groomed. Next thing you know, boys will be wearing their hair as long as the girls.”

–“I read the other day where some scientist thinks it’s possible to put a man on the moon by the end of the century. They even have some fellows they call ‘astronauts’ preparing for it down in Texas.”

–“I never thought I’d see the day all our kitchen appliances would be electric. They are even making electric typewriters now.”

–“It’s too bad things are so tough nowadays. I see where a few married women are having to work to make ends meet.”

–“It won’t be long before young couples are going to have to hire someone to watch their kids so they can both work.”

–“I’m just afraid the Volkswagen car is going to open the door to a whole lot of foreign business.”

–“The drive-in restaurant is convenient in nice weather, but I seriously doubt they will ever catch on.”

–“There is no sense going away for a weekend. It costs nearly $15 a night to stay in a hotel.”

–“No one can afford to be sick anymore; $35 a day in the hospital is too rich for my blood.”

–“If they think I’ll pay 50 cents for a hair cut, forget it.”

In retrospect, it sounds kind of silly, doesn’t it? But in reality, it’s not silly. It’s deadly serious if you fail to recognize or anticipate change in the business world or even your own personal life.


=> 3. Recognize the serious consequences of change.

As author Bill Bryson says, “Change — and rapid change at that — is nothing new and has always had serious consequences for the unprepared.” Just look at our culture for examples of that. Back in 1950, it was “Let’s get married first.” In 1970, it was “Let’s get stoned first.” And in 1990, it was “Let’s get tested first.”

As I tell people in my seminar on “Mastering Change,” if you’re not constantly appalled, you haven’t been paying attention. And the history of the world is filled with stories of people who lost out because they weren’t paying attention to the changes taking place in their industry or their relationships.

Take the traditional western stagecoach. It saw active service for a mere ten years. The first service was inaugurated in 1858 when the Overland Mail Company began twice-weekly trips from St. Louis to San Francisco. Its concord coaches were intended principally to carry mail and freight but also carried up to nine passengers. All being well, the trip took a little over three weeks. In 1869, the Overland Mail Company was put out of business by the opening of the first transcontinental railway.

Even more short-lived was the Pony Express. Inaugurated in 1860, it was designed to carry mail from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California. Riders rode in relays, each averaging 50 to 80 miles a day. On an average run, 75 riders would cover the 2000 miles between Missouri and California in ten and a half days. It was a fabulous achievement, but economic folly. Setting up and maintaining riders, horses and way stations was an exceedingly costly business. By late 1861, barely nineteen months after starting, the Pony Express was out of business, a victim of the newly installed telegraph.

Yes, change always brings consequences… some good… some bad… but always serious. To avoid the NEGATIVE consequences of change…

=> 4. Prepare for change.

Look for ways you can do your job more efficiently or more effectively. Look for ways you can serve your organization and your customers better than ever before. Take fifteen minutes a day… to think… and then list… the ways you could improve your personal and professional life.

When you do the four things I’ve outlined in this “Tuesday Tip,” you will be able to agree with Frederic Hudson that the benefits of change outweigh the problems of change.

Action:  Take 15 minutes this week to think about how you can prepare yourself for the changes coming your way.