Perception of Change: How to change? Embrace and Extend.

Whenever we hear the word “Change”, the majority of responses would fall into these categories:

  • Fear, Anxiety and Dread
  • Fear and then Excitement
  • Excitement and Anticipation.  Probably only from the people who caused the change.

It is no surprise that as “routine and comfort loving human beings”, any thing that requires us to change or do things differently will invoke a negative reaction.  Our perspective on “change” is almost always tied to something negative or bad.  I think that all of us can relate to an experience where we had to “change” the way we worked or behaved and change is never comfortable.  Change of routines and schedules can create anxiety, frustration because it means that we are no longer in control.  At the center of the negative perception of change is the fact that we are no longer in control.  For type A personalities, that is just disastrous.  Unless of course as type A personalities, you created the change.

How and what can we do to change our perspective on “change”?

1.  View “change” as an opportunity.  I remember many years ago, when I was working in Microsoft, we were faced with the Internet Browser battle between Netscape and Internet Explorer.  Netscape created a change in the industry to how we viewed the contents of the internet.  There was a “mantra” at that time, “Embrace and Extend”.  Embrace the net and extend the capabilities.   In many ways that’s exactly what happened in the browser war.  Internet Explorer embraced the features of Netscape and then extended it beyond and who can remember what happened to Netscape?   I thought that was the best tagline.  Much like Nike’s Just Do It.  If we view “change” as “Embrace and Extend”, we are not viewing it as a threat but as an opportunity.

2.  Embrace the change.  Embrace the change, take the opportunity to learn and develop your skills or adapt to the situation.  The faster we are able to see the situation through the lense of opportunity or development, the faster we are able to shift our mindset of resistance to adapting to the change.  Embracing the change will required changes to how you do certain things, what you do as well as who you might need to work with.  None of those areas are negatives, all can be positives as it will serve as a platform for growth and learnings.

3.  Extend the change.  Extending the change now serves as a platform for you to be ahead of the curve and maybe even cause you to be at the forefront of leading the next wave of change.  To extend the change requires you to shift your perspective from taking on the change to leading the change.

Change is the only constant and our survival depends on how self-aware and self-critical we are in order to view perceptions and perspectives differently.  Questions that you can ask yourself:  What is driving the negative perspectives towards that change?  What skills or abilities do I have today that can still be used?  What skills or abilities do I need work on in order to be successful?  What can I do or actions to take that will remove the fear or doubt?  Reflect on the past, how did you handle changes in the past?  What would you do differently?  What are the opportunities that will arise from this change?

As the Borg tagline in Star Trek goes “Resistance is Futile.”  Always be a student of change and never the victim of change.

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