I’ve been around a little while, my friends, and I’ve had to adapt to change throughout my career. Whether the change comes from our personal life or business life, it can either crush our teammates and us, or it can lift us up — the difference is how we react to the change triggers.
There has been no time like the one we’re in now. This is true of any time period, but it feels incredibly real right now in 2020, a year which may go down as one of the hardest in modern history. I empathize with everyone right now. We’re all struggling in ways we could never have anticipated.
In all honesty, though, the same is true of all change. I don’t want to minimize what people are going through, but isn’t all this about the fear of the unknown? We never truly know what’s going to happen, although I’ll admit we all feel this more strongly this year.
As leaders in your industry, you need to realize something right now: Everyone feels the pressures of change. Your teammates sense the uncertainty, even if they don’t see the scope of it as you do. Your family and friends sense the change coming into your business through you. Heck, even your customers sense it in your company.
Here’s the real scary and awesome part, though. While change may start from somewhere else, you control how your company responds to the change. How powerful is that? This big thing called 2020 is still within our power to have some semblance of control over, if only you step up as a leader and grab the reins.
How do we do this? I have developed four easy steps to take when change happens. These steps will help you figure out what to do, and how to handle your business when things happen — and they will happen.
Before we dig into these steps, I want you to ask yourself some questions. Give honest answers as best as possible with these questions. This is the only way to truly see who you are as a leader in your company.
- How do I feel when things change?
- What’s my gut reaction to change?
- If things start to go south, what’s the first thing I usually do?
- How much do I believe things will get better?
If you don’t get real with how you react, you’ll never be able to wrangle control back from the changes in your industry and life. The steps we’re about to discuss only work if you approach them from an honest place. What's interesting to me in my study of human leadership for more than 20 years, is how different all the reactions can be. There’s nothing wrong with how we feel when change happens. Whether it’s panic, shutting down, running around, blaming or taking on more than we can handle, all of these are your feelings, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Be honest with yourself, though. It’s how we rise above our instincts to plan and lead from a place of purpose that makes us true leaders.
When change happens, what do we do? The first thing I learned to do is to take a step back and analyze the situation. It’s critical to stop your emotions as best as possible and really ask, “What’s the situation?” Your normal mode of operation is changing. Accept it, but look at what’s actually changing. Often, the changes aren’t as big as they seem at first. Break it down and ask yourself:
- What is forcing the change? It may be something partially in your control. Even if it’s not, take a look at where the change is coming from;
- How does the change disrupt my status quo? Look at how the change is affecting your business. You likely don’t need to throw away everything you’ve been doing; and
- What are the possible outcomes of this change if we do handle it well? Notice, I didn’t say to think about how terrible things may get. Think about possible consequences if you don’t handle it well. This provides some motivation to take the correct steps.
I’ve had it
With an accurate picture of the situation in mind, it’s time to seize control of the trigger event. The change probably started outside your control. It’s just the way life and business goes. Look at the change trigger and own it. Say to yourself, “I’ve had it!” Every significant change happens from internal motivation to control the change. Sure, something bad happened to you or your business; now is the time to dig deep and own the change as your own.
There are millions of people every day who have “I’ve had it” moments and never handle change. The harsh truth is they fail to take massive action. Make a plan and carry it out! Don’t sit there complaining about how you want your business to convert better on upsells or you want your customer satisfaction to be higher. Make a plan and act. Will the plan be perfect? No way. It’s going to need change as you go, but you’ll never be able to take control from the sidelines.
On your path of action, you need to work toward creating a new reality. Your status quo — the ways things were — is gone. Don’t try to move back to it; move forward. What’s the new reality? It’s where you want your business to go. It’s how you want your teammates to be. It’s how you want your business to be viewed in the community. Your new reality accepts the changes you went through and rises to new heights. Use these questions to get your new reality firmly in your head:
- In the perfect world, what would my business look like?
- What kinds of things would customers say about my business?
- What elements of my business would competitors want to steal/take inspiration from?
- How is the change trigger pushing me toward this new reality?
- What obstacle may arise to test the strength of my reality?
- What are the three most important parts of my ideal reality?
As you run a business, speed bumps and downed trees will come across your path. You have the power to plan a new route. First, take a look at the situation honestly. Tell yourself, “I’ve had it,” and commit to taking control of the change. Make a plan and take action. Every step you take, keep the important goals in mind. When things go wrong, you’ll be able to chart a new course with the same ideals. Change is scary, but it doesn’t have to be.
You are the leader. You have the power to guide your company and teammates to success. You control how you react to change. Do it for your business and teammates. Do it for yourself. Remember, you aren’t alone in this, but you are the leader perfectly positioned to help your business. Step into your greatness and be the change trigger; don’t be the victim.