Thirst for Change – Three Things I’ve Learned about Change

I named my business Thirst for Change Coaching. I tossed around a lot of other names but kept coming back to Thirst for Change. I have a broad offering of services from HR projects to training to coaching and all of these have a common denominator of change.

According to the dictionary definition, change is to make or become different; alter or modify and/or to have a new experience and coaching supports this for people. Individuals want coaching because they are keen to shift something – to take steps forward, to get un-stuck, to make a move towards their goals or dreams, to make some type of change.

Similarly, facilitating and training is all about providing people with information, tools, tips and methods to do something different, to modify their behavior or action. And at the heart of any HR project I tackle is the desire to make a positive change in the organization I’m working with.

It makes sense. Thirst for Change. It’s a call to action. It’s a challenge, perhaps. It is an expectation that something will change.

And change is a business in and of itself. There are fantastic models, books and certified change guru’s helping companies lead big organization-wide changes. I’m grateful for these step-by-step approaches as large-scale, company-wide changes can be immensely difficult and challenging.

I can’t verify who said this, but it makes sense: “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new”. Yes! The three big things I’ve learned about change aren’t about process or steps, they are about mindset and attitude:

Early Adopter – change is hard, I get it. I’ve lagged far behind with change many times and it is a bunch of hard work to catch up. While there will be times you initiate change, let’s face it, change is going to happen to you, like it or not. If you can muscle up the gumption, I recommend getting on board early. Yes, you will be worried, yes frustrated, likely a bit afraid, and perhaps lacking all the information. My experience is that is all quite normal and do your best to ask yourself questions to help shift your mindset:

  • What are the opportunities, the possibilities with this change?
  • What is one thing (even something small) I can do right now to get involved, to understand, to support?
  • What do I have control over?

Say Goodbye – one of the best books I’ve read on transition during change is “Managing Transitions” by William Bridges. He says it is important to honour “the old” as part of being open to embrace the new. I’ve heard great stories of teams having ceremonies to send off the old system/equipment/process/building etc. Not only is this a great way to bring a team together, it is important to have closure, to say good-bye.

Resistance is Futile – it is normal to go through a cycle when transitioning through change. Pay attention to where you might be at during a change and use the questions in the first learning point under Early Adopter to help move through each phase. Here is what I’ve seen play out most often:

  • Starting with denial: nope, this is not happening!
  • Followed by resistance: oh, this is happening, I’m not sure I’m cool with this change. I’m afraid. I like the old way better.
  • Then exploratory: I’m curious, I want to learn more, but I’m still a bit guarded.
  • And finally, commitment: onboard captain, let’s sail this ship!

And, I’m human. Recently I was in line at my favorite restaurant, with a good friend, having a look a newly redesigned menu. I started complaining that some of my favorite items were no longer on the menu. I became somewhat flustered, actually a bit angry and did not know what to order – my go-to’s were no longer there. I made several comments on how crazy the new menu was. My friend leaned over and whispered to me “Isn’t your company called Thirst for Change”? We both burst out laughing – yes, of course it was and yes, I was struggling with the changes. It dawned on me how normal our initial resistance is with change – even if it is good – like the new menu item I finally ordered and enjoyed – it is now my new favorite!

“It’s not so much that we’re afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it’s that place in between that we fear… It’s like being between trapezes. It’s Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There’s nothing to hold on to.” – Marilyn Ferguson

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