Embracing Change in the Workplace

As I look at Disney’s prospects and my own, the future seems both exhilarating and daunting… Technology is evolving at such a furious pace that predicting the future is a sure route to humility. — Michael Eisner,[1] Former Disney CEO

Adaptability to Change

Everyday things are radically changing. New technologies evolving. Political administrations scheming. Environmental changes emerging. The global economy is ripening. The only constant is change and much of it we can influence while some of it we can’t.

Watching the changing colors of the sky during the morning sunrise and evening sunset. Watching the color of the leaves change in Spring and Fall. We enjoy change that is beautiful.

A new job. A new car. A new home. A new boyfriend. A new wife. A promotion. A vacation. We enjoy change that is good. We invite positive change that immediately brings us satisfaction. We jump on change that benefits us.

What about when the tides turn and the waves crash? When power people put programs in place that make things less comfortable and more difficult? What about changes that threaten your home or health, net-worth or self-worth, stability or security? These kinds of changes aren’t so likeable or easily adaptable, yet are often out of our control.

Some circumstances are simply beyond our control. Sometimes with unexpected changes all we can control is how we will respond to them. And that can mean all the difference in the world.

How we respond to difficult change tells a lot about us, and those who inspire more fans, followers, and people, are those who respond well to change. The most successful people are those who adapt to unexpected change in the most positive way. Those who turn a perceived or actual negative situation into something productive. Those who take a change for the worst and make it an opportunity for something better.

The weather seasons and cycles of life are so much bigger than we are. They will continue to roll through regardless of our place in the world. They will continue to come and go just as often as people do. Those who identify and adapt best to each changing season of the year and of life will have happier years and a more successful life.

Advocacy for Change

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. — Leo Tolstoy

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. –Mahatma Gandhi

Let him that would move the world, first move himself. –Socrates

Some changes we cannot influence or control. But many we can. The changes we want to see in our homes, businesses, communities, and countries start with us. The person in the mirror. In business and in life there is no remote. You have to get up and change it yourself.

Every day is a national day of something. Today is National ______________ Day (fill in the blank). So every day is a changing season that can affect our life and business.

Successful people understand how changing seasons affect their business and life. Seasons created by or affecting the retail business include: Cough and Cold season, Health and Wellness season, Back-to School, Back-to College, and Back-to-Basics seasons, Spring Cleaning and Home-Improvement seasons, Vacation and Travel seasons, Bicycle and Car-Care seasons, Harvest season, Hunting, Fishing, and Camping seasons, Tax season, Awards season, Snow, Rain, Tornado, Hurricane, and Fire seasons, Home and Garden seasons, BBQ season, Local Community Event seasons, Major Movie Release seasons, Prom, Wedding, and Graduation seasons, Political and Voting seasons, Baking season, and Toy season. Major Sports Events seasons — Rose bowl, Super bowl, Nascar, March Madness, World series, Olympics, Tennis, Golf, Soccer, Hockey, Basketball Championships. Then all the National Days and Holidays — Valentines, Presidents Days, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Cinco de Mayo, Earth Day, Mother’s and Father’s Days, Labor and Memorial and Independence Days, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas seasons, and everything else in between. These seasons come and go every day and every year and many impact several other businesses and industries besides retail. Successful people are not only aware of them, they prepare for and make the most of them.

In addition to the external seasons that affect business, there’s also the internal seasons as well. These include: Hiring and Layoff seasons, Overtime and Budget Cut seasons, Clearance seasons, Inventory seasons, Compliance Changes, Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) changes, Building Renovations and Expansions, Computer Network, Intranet, and Internet changes, Associate Appreciation Initiatives, Customer Satisfaction Initiatives, Sustainability Initiatives, Marketing Initiatives and all sorts of company Initiatives and changes. Effective operators and leaders are the ones initiating the changes as well as making sure they get carried out with successful follow-thru and completion.

Great leaders are those who highly anticipate and prepare for change and then effectively implement it. They are proactive catalysts of positive change. They are able to motivate people to get on the bus to Changeville and then, actually drive that bus to Changeville. And often times at record-setting speeds.

Seasons are coming in your work and life. Can you identify them? Are you prepared for them? If so, how will you make the most of them? Your answers to these questions will determine your degree of success or failure in the coming seasons.

Progress Requires Change

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. — George Bernard Shaw

Progress requires change but doesn’t always come from it. You may change, the weather may change, products may change, and processes may change but that doesn’t always mean for the better. Successful people are those who bring about change for the best in themselves, in others, in their business, and in the world.

Great leaders, entrepreneurs, and operators initiate changes that lead to progress and positive forward momentum. Sometimes this means changing the way we think. Sometimes this means changing the rules of the game. Sometimes this means knowing when to pull the plug and when to change direction because things aren’t going right or as well as they should.

Highly effective people do this: take responsibility for change. Initiating it. Predicting it. Guiding it. Monitoring it. Taking responsibility for the team when it’s wrong and giving credit to them when it’s right.

Effective people make effective changes. They call the plays that make the runs, field the goals, and score the touchdowns. They assemble people together that make great teams and organizations. They make proactive changes and preventative measures to reduce incoming dilemmas and all potential disasters. They are constantly looking for and taking advantage of opportunities to change things for the better.

If you want to be a more successful person, then try this: everyday ask yourself, “Who or what can I change for the better?” There’s always a person that can be improved. There’s always a process or product that can be improved. There’s always something in our world that can be improved. Successful people know these things and so they are always asking, “Who or what can I change for the better?” And they usually start by looking in the mirror before they go to work and ask their team “What can we change for the better?”

The greatest organizations have powerful transformational leaders. Leaders who make strategic changes for the greatest good and greatest cause. Leaders who spearhead changes that decrease expenses and increase profitability. Leaders who drive changes that add value to people’s lives, increase associate and customer satisfaction, as well as market shares. Leaders who usher changes that build better programs, better processes, better products, better services, better teams, better businesses, better communities, and a better world. They are champions of change. Change for the better. Change that leads to progress and success.

Are you inviting and igniting powerful and positive change in your work and life? Sometimes this requires a change of heart and mind. A change in our attitude and how we look at things. Positive changes must start and end with a positive attitude and a positive mind.

To make positive changes you have to believe you can. To make the biggest difference in the world, you have to believe that you can make a big difference. To make meaningful and important changes you have to believe that you are important and what you’re doing is important. The size of the hope and belief in your heart and mind is a direct reflection of the positive changes and outcomes you will make and find.

Successful people do this: realize what they cannot change and focus on what they can change. They minimize what they cannot change and maximize what they can change. They are steady and realistic and yet highly optimistic about the powerful and positive changes that can occur.

The Changeability Factor

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird. It would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad. — C. S. Lewis

If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading. — Lao Tzu

Things are always changing. We’re either moving forward or backward. We’re either being hatched, growing wings, learning to fly, and soaring, or going bad. We’re either wearing out or rusting out. I’d rather wear myself out learning how to fly and soar than do nothing and go bad and rust out.

We’ve heard people say, “some people just never learn” or “some people just never change.” These are references to those stuck in or falling back into old ways and habits. Those beautiful souls that can be stubborn and thick headed, doing things their way, learning the hard way, and very reluctant to change. We’ve all known someone like that and perhaps have been one.

We all have a changeability factor. We all can and will change. That’s what people do. It’s just that some of us are slower than others and sometimes change is for better or for worse.

The changeability factor. It’s what we’re dealing with every day in our homes, work places and world. People and their dynamics which are constantly changing. Systems, and circumstances, and situations, constantly changing.

Our ability to succeed depends heavily on both our ability to change and be an advocacy for change: our changeability factor. Ultra-successful people are able to produce an extraordinary amount of positive change in themselves, in others, in their business, and in the world. And this is something you and I can do, as well.

No matter our place or position, we can choose to adapt to positive changes that need to take place in ourselves and in our work places. We can choose to interact with family, friends, co-workers and strangers in ways that influence them to be more productive, happier, or better. We can choose to use our energy and ability to add value to all that we see, touch, and come across. These are all things successful people do and they are things also reserved for me and for you.

Remember These Things

Ø The world around you and people around you will change — and sometimes for the worse. How you respond to change — especially unexpected, painful change — will determine your level of success or failure.

Ø Seasons come and go. They are here only for a short time. Your ability to identify and make the most of each season in business and life increases your effectiveness, success, and happiness.

Ø Be the change you want to see in your home. Be the change you want to see in your workplace. Be the change you want to see in the media. Be the change you want to see in your community. Be the change you want to see in your school. Be the change you want to see in your sphere of influence. Be the change you want to see in your world. Be the change.

Ø Everyday. Every person. Every place. Every thing. Every moment. All are this: an opportunity to make a positive, powerful, meaningful, simple, lasting change. Don’t miss out.

Ø Keep asking: “What can I, and what can we, change for the better?”

[1] Michael Eisner, Work in Progress, (New York, NY: Random House Inc., 1998), P. 419.

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