Monthly Archives: February 2015

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.

Change for survival

I came across this interesting quote by W. Edwards Deming “It is not necessary to change.  Survival is not mandatory.”  It is true that we don’t have to change or even embrace change, but what would that leave us.  Change is filled with fear, resistance and the unknown but it is all around us.  In businesses, change is constant and in technology change is better known as innovation.  Change in one’s life is more recognisable as personal development.  All these different words are used to reflect what change forces us to do and to become.

If I were to look back a year and reflect on what has changed in my life and how much I have changed, its really quite interesting.  Physically I have more grey hair, published my first book, entered into the coaching realm, led a group of ladies, increased my general knowledge of useless information and the list goes on.  Why did that happen?  I enjoy learning and growing.  I enjoy the challenge of taking on new projects and seeing the outcome.  My circumstances did not change to force me to change but I wanted to grow and learn hence had to create change in my life in order to achieve that.

There are those of us who will create change and those who change because they are forced to.  The response in both those scenarios are entirely up to you.  Think about :  What is your perceived view to change?  What is your typical response to change?  Do you embrace and extend or reject and rebel?  What drives those responses?  How can you become a student of change and not a victim of change?  How can you anticipate and plan for change?  What are you holding on to that stops you from changing?  Why bother changing as everything is great now?  If we think that the quote above is true that change is mandatory for survival then the answer is clear as well.

Tomorrow I will dwell deeper into what are the perceptions of change and what we can do to shift that perception.

Why do we want more?

I was in a discussion with some friends recently and the topic was about not having enough.  Not enough money to send the kids to private school, not enough time to rest, not enough time to read and the list goes on.  Bear in mind, that by all standards, we all have enough and in some cases, more than enough and yet there is a sense that it is not enough.  Why is that?  What drives us to want more?  What makes us think or believe that by having more of something, we will be better or that we would be happier?  Why can’t be we contend with what we have?

We came up with a few conclusions:

1.  Conditioned to believe that More is good.  This starts very young.  Toddlers already know that they want more.  It’s a natural survival instinct in a way to want more so that we are not starved.  What child does not want more toys even though he already has baskets full of toys.  Something bigger, flashier and shinier is always better.

2.   Comparison.  We live in a society where we compare with those around us.  In order to “win” that comparison, there is an underlying belief that having something that the other person does not have will make us better compared with someone else.  For example, when people around us have a bigger or nicer car, the “desire” to be like them drives us to want that too even though the current car works beautifully.

3.  Underlying belief that enough is NOT good enough.  There is a strong sense in all of us that what we have is never enough.  It is not good enough.  I have enough gadgets in my house and yet I am looking at new and more advance ones.  Why?  I can’t fit them all into my humble abode.  I have a relatively new golf set and yet at the back of my mind, I am wondering if I bought a new wedge, maybe my short game with be better.  The reality is that in most cases, enough is good enough.

4.  Entitlement.  We sometimes feel that we are entitled to more than what we have.  Most children today feel that they are entitled to a phone and not just any phone, a smartphone and not just any smartphone but an iPhone or a Samsung.  We feel entitled for the promotion because of the amount of hours and hard work that we put in.  What we don’t know if how much more the other person put in to get to where they are.

So what’s the solution?

1.  More in not always good for you.  Eating more food is not good for you.  Drinking more alcohol is certainly not good for you.  Working too many hours is not good for you.  Too much stress is not good for your health.  The conclusion is that too much of anything is just not good for you.  Questions that you can ask yourself:  Why do I want more of something?  What would happen if I don’t have it?  What would happen if I did get it?  What is truly of value to me?

2.  Balance is what we should be striving for.  Everything is moderation, how much we work, time we spend with our families, healthy living and so on.  To achieve that the key questions to answer are:  What is my balance?  How much is good for me?  Am I spending the appropriate amount of time on what I enjoy?  Am I growing as an individual?  What is driving me to want more?  Is it a need or a want?  Can I spend my time or money in a more useful way?

3.  Be happy with self.  Just be contended with who you are and what you have and don’t have.  This will take away the need to compare and even if people compare you with someone else, you won’t be unsettled by it.  This does not mean that you will not strive to be better or to improve in any way.  This just means that you are comfortable and confident about you.  Questions to ask:  What makes me happy?  What is my purpose?  Am I living in alignment with that purpose?  What drives me or motivates me?

I was reading a recent study that concluded that running more does not mean that you will live longer.  In fact running less may help you to live longer.  Now of course that study has been made light off due to the sample size but it goes to show, more does not mean better.

Opportunities Everywhere: What do I focus on?

I had a session with a client this morning and she was just exploding with excitement as she was faced with so many different opportunities and was getting pulled in many directions as a result of that.  It’s a great problem to have in a way, and yet can also be daunting and confusing if we are not clear on what it is that is aligned with our purpose or something that is meaningful.  We may uncover a hidden talent, new opportunity to start your own business or a new role or promotion and so on.  Some might seem to be very different from what you are currently doing.  And yet seems exciting.  So what are you going to do?

What can you do to help you focus and decide?

  1. Go back to what you want to achieve or accomplish or purpose.  Does the opportunity align with what you want to do?  Does it extend what you are currently doing?  Does it help you to learn a skill that will help you in achieving your goals?
  2. Time vs. Impact.  How much time will it take from you?  Will it impact what you are currently doing?  How does it impact what I am currently doing?  What are the trade-offs that I need to make if I were to take it on?  What is the impact if I did not take it on?  What is the impact if I did take it on?
  3. Talk to your “advisers”.  I am sure that you will have a group of people that you would consider as your trusted advisers.  Get advise or just talk it out with someone.  It is always beneficial to express your thoughts or emotions and in most cases you will achieve clarity.  When we hear our thoughts out loud, it helps to bring a certain amount of awareness.  This can help you with clarity and choices or next steps to be taken.
  4.  Decide and move forward.  Make that decision and move forward.  Don’t let a decision “hang” around as it will just cause further confusion later on.  Letting go and moving forward with the decision is an important step.  If you have decided to take on the opportunity then take it on.  If you have decided to not do it, then let it go and focus on what you have and see what other opportunities will present itself later on.

Confusion will only drain your energy while focus will increase your energy and excitement level which will lead to impact.

Farmer or Hunter?

Have you been asked this question before?  Are you like a farmer or a hunter?  A farmer is one where you will take the time to plough the land, sow the seeds, fertilise and wait for the plant to grow and then harvest it.  A hunter on the other hand is one where you will track a target, size up the target and then seize upon it.  As an example, these 2 metaphors have been used to describe people in sales and marketing roles.

What are the similarities of a farmer and a hunter?

  • A clear desired outcome.  Both know what they want to achieve at the end of the process.
  • Have a strategy and action plan in place and execute it.   In order to achieve their goals, both need to have a strategy on how to make it happen.
  • Have to be skilled and competent in what they are doing.  Need to have the know-how to be successful.
  • Need to be patient and persevere as they wait for the harvest.

What are the differences of a farmer and a hunter?

  • Mindset and perspective.  A farmer looks forward to a big harvest while a hunter’s target is very specific.
  • Approach in getting to the end result.  A farmer needs to prepare the land first before sowing the seeds in order to achieve a good harvest while a hunter needs to identify the target and then track it until its time to close the deal.
  • Time frame.  One might take longer than the other hence having the right expectations of time frame is critical.
  • Personalities.  Clearly there is a need for different personalities and attributes in each role that gives it an edge.  Myers-Briggs profiling have indicated that some profiles are better suited for certain roles.

I feel that sometimes we focus far too much on the differences that we do not appreciate the similarities and therefore face unnecessary conflicts as a result.  To put this into a workplace perspective, it is very common that there are conflicts between the sales and marketing teams.  Most of the time, these conflicts are just because of differences that I have mentioned above – perspectives and approaches along with time frame of when things happen.  If we focus instead on the similarities e.g. a common goal, trust in the other’s skills in performing their role and agree on the time line of execution, these potential conflicts can be minimised.

So which one are you?  Each with their strengths and rewards.  Each with their unique traits and characteristics that will make them successful in their roles.  The questions are:

Do you know which one you are? How would you continue to develop either one of these approaches?  How can you be a better farmer or hunter?  Can you be both a farmer and a hunter?  How can both the farmer and hunter work together for the good of the group.  After all, we don’t just want to eat meat or vegetables all the time, right?