Change is a big part of being successful. Not only is change good (if you don’t believe me, look at the fashions of the 70s and 80s), but it’s accelerating at an increasingly rapid pace. While it took 75 years for 100 million users to adopt the telephone, it only took four and a half for the Internet and just over a year for Candy Crush Saga.
This means that you need to keep adapting. It’s both a survival skill and a success skill.
However, change is difficult for people. For some of us, it’s pure laziness. But for others, we don’t like the lack of control or the uncertainty of worse outcomes, bruised egos, embarrassment or failing. People also seem to hate losing more than they love winning.
But, if you don’t learn to embrace change and if you don’t move forward, you will be left behind. So, whether it’s changing the focus of your business, having to learn new technology or replacing a prized employee, you need to know how to deal with change.
Here are four ways that you can learn to be comfortable with the discomfort of change and use change as a success tool.
1. Take small action steps.
When you get your mind wrapped around the concept of embracing change, the first tweak is to just take small steps forward. You are not going to be able to effect a full wholesale change overnight, so just find one small thing that you can do at a time, then do it and then, do another.
If you can start with an end goal, work backward and break your goal into small action steps until you can get to the very first one in the path. This is usually something that you can control or do yourself. Once you accomplish that milestone, then you can tackle another. These small steps make change palatable and easier to accomplish.
2. Be willing to go back in order to move forward.
Get your mind wrapped around taking a few steps back in order to be able to go forward. Visualize trying to jump across a creek. You can’t just jump standing from where you are. You have to physically move backward in order to give yourself the momentum needed to run and take that leap forward.
Success is not linear, though I wish it was, so expect that when you face change, there will be a time that you have to move backward. This may be in terms of status, pay or some other factors required to get to the next level. If your mind knows that’s part of the process and removes the uncertainly around it, it’s easier to embrace.
3. Check your ego.
Typically, the biggest roadblock to change is you. Often, there’s little downside other than facing your own bruised ego when you evaluate change. To counteract this, quiz yourself about the downside of pursuing change if it doesn’t work out. If the downside is primarily concern about failure or people pointing and laughing at you, it’s time to get over it.
4. Fail correctly.
For some reason, most of us were never taught to fail. Our entire school system is set up so that success is given a gold star and failure is ridiculed.
This is unfortunate because failure, when done properly, is a good thing. It’s required for taking on risk and pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors. That is, if you do it the right way.
The right way to fail means doing it quickly, inexpensively and never the same way twice. You don’t want to have too much money or time hinging on any one outcome. If you do, then failure is bad, taking time and money away from other opportunities.
Testing your route on smaller scales in rapid succession allows for the risks to be lessened. So, try something that doesn’t cost too much or take too much time. If it works, take the next step. If not, your failure isn’t financially or otherwise devastating.
And, of course, you need to learn from your failures so that you don’t repeat them down the road.
Change is necessary and it’s not evil. Learn to love it and you will be poised for success.