Today’s organizations face change in a variety of areas…at an unprecedented rate. And though we’ve been told that constant change is the “new normal”, we usually look upon it with fear and negativity.
Susan Campbell, author of From Chaos to Confidence, has an interesting take on the topic. Campbell views navigating change as being a lot like surfing: “Successful surfers stay just ahead of the wave that could wipe them out at any moment. They use the power of this very same wave, participating with the wave, not fighting it or trying to control it.”
In the same way, to survive in a constantly changing workplace, Campbell says we must learn to relate to our environment rather than trying to control it.
One way to do this is to shift our mindset from “Security/Control” to “Learning/ Discovery”.
If we maintain a Security/Control mindset we focus on stability ( i.e. knowing the rules, being around people like us and having things turn out predictably). We don’t like uncertainty, change, lack of structure or people who don’t share our point of view. We view change as a loss of control.
Alternatively, when we develop a Learning/Discovery mindset, we become open to experimenting in unfamiliar situations. Because we relate to our environment rather that trying to control it, we focus on creatively developing ourselves to succeed in our changing environment.Instead of worrying about what we’ve lost, we ask, “What does this moment require of me?” This attitude shift is very empowering, making change an opportunity for growth.
According to Campbell, when we get trapped in a world of wishes and fears, we lose the power to deal effectively with reality and the options it holds. The key to getting “unstuck” lies in letting go of attitudes and reactions that don’t work and focusing on ones that do, like those listed below:
Participate in the change. See change as natural and healthy (versus seeing it as disruptive).
Communicate to share learning (versus using communication as a way to control others or the situation)
Let Go. Focus on “what is” (versus holding on to “what was” or “what should be”)
Think Both/And (versus Either/Or)
When we adopt this kind of Learning/Discovery mindset, we are no longer afraid of getting caught off guard. We expect to get caught off guard sometimes, and we welcome these situations for what they can teach us about ourselves and our organizations.
Recommended Training Resource – the Riding the Wave: Strategies for Change video training program provides compelling workplace examples that effectively illustrate the difference between a Security/Control and Learning/Discovery approach to change.