The Challenge of Change

Is your organization becoming Agile?  Is your organization merging or outsourcing?  Are you wondering how, where or even if you will fit?  Are you feeling a loss of control over your work life?  If there is only one guarantee in the world of information technology, or in any work environment, it is change.  Let’s face it; life itself is a series of changes.

So how do we deal with change?  We can take the “ostrich approach”, burying our heads in the sand, pretending that it isn’t happening, or we can face it and embrace it.  We all know and accept that change is hard.  But have we ever thought about why change is so hard?  A colleague of mine expressed it very well yesterday when he said it’s the fear of the unknown.  What you don’t know, you can’t control. 

So the question becomes how do we deal with uncertainty?  We can start by examining our mindset or our attitudes and habits toward to succeeding when there is uncertainty.  In her book “Mindset The New Psychology of Success”, Carol Dweck, PhD. defines two mindsets, fixed and growth.  Those who have a fixed mindset feel that their success or lack thereof, is a result of basic personality traits that cannot be changed.  Those who have a growth mindset believe that success is the result of hard work and see failure as an opportunity to learn.    The good news here is that mindsets can be changed.  Therefore we can start to deal with change and uncertainty by evaluating our mindset and changing our approach toward it.

We can begin by taking control of what we can control.   For example, if your organization becomes Agile, why not learn everything you possibly can about Agile development.  In the process you have a great chance of discovering where and how you will fit.  If your organization is downsizing, merging or outsoucing, yes, you may get laid off and yes, you have absolutely no control over whether or not that happens.  However, you can update your resume, start networking in your field, test the waters by applying and interviewing for positions in your field.  And in doing those things, you will feel a sense of control.  I know; I did it.

In Spencer Johnson, M.D., 1990’s book “Who Moved My Cheese?,” it was Haw who adopted the growth mindset. He followed the example of the mice, Sniff and Scurry, who saw change coming and took early action. He put on his running shoes and headed into the maze to find new sources of cheese.  Hem remained in the fixed mindset.

We can alleviate the fear of the unknown.  First we must willingly embrace the growth mindset, approach change as an opportunity to learn.  Second, we must be willing take the actions necessary to control what we can control within the change.  As “Humorista” Christine Cashen puts in “The Good Stuff Quipes and Tips on Life, Love, Work and Happiness,” we need to “BOOGIE” or Be Outstanding Or Get Involved Elsewhere.”

When you find yourself standing at the edge of a cliff looking into the water below, you may not have the choice to jump or not, but you sure can be ready, willing and able to swim!


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