Change: How to feel like you’re winning rather than losing

Many leaders these days are navigating layers upon layers of change; whether it’s new teams, structures, roles, processes, bosses or ways of working.

Change is supposed to be good, right? While the intent of the change might be positive, this doesn’t mean we always feel like we’ve won personally.

While we might accept the change and understand why it’s come about, a question that’s natural to ask ourselves is “Will I win or lose as a result of the change?”.

What’s right for the business might not feel like it’s right for you.

What happen when you lose? Where the result is out of your control?

The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails. – John C. Maxwell

I think the three of the most important self-reflective questions any leader can ask themselves on an ongoing basis to ascertain where they and their leadership are at, are:

  • What am I taking responsibility for?
  • Where is my focus?
  • Where do I live emotionally?

The truth of where we live emotionally is determined by our inner reactions to what happens in our life.

Our inner reactions are based on our beliefs. In other words, we become what we react to. I worked with a leader last week, let’s call him Jim, where massive change is about to hit his role and business. His personal response to the change was “It’s not going to work for me”, and he had a number of reasons to justify his views and beliefs, leaving him feeling concerned and anxious. I asked Jim “How are you going to make it work for you?’. There was a moment of silence where he could see how his choice of focus was allowing him to feel stuck.

We’re all driven by certainty to a more or less degree. We’re creatures of habit and we’re wired for safety.

When we leave the past and move into an uncertain future, we’ll naturally seek to find certainty wherever we can find it – resourcefully or unresourcefully – to keep ourselves safe. We do this in ways we’re not even be conscious of. While Jim’s anxiety was totally understandable, his thinking wasn’t serving him.

You can’t change what happened. But you can choose how you feel about it.

No one has a perfect headspace all the time, but our mindset is a daily choice we make.

Here are three ways you can choose to win vs lose as a result of change:

1. Be mindful of the stories you tell yourself

Being mindful of the stories you tell yourself gives you the freedom to choose how you think. We are meaning creating machines: something happens, and we give it a meaning – it’s how we make sense of what happens around us. You can’t turn your stories off, but you can choose the lens through which your story is told. Whether the spin is positive, negative or a bit of both – the choice is always yours.

The most important stories are the ones we tell ourselves. Our stories help us step into opportunity or hinder us from them.

2. Think about the choice you do have

When it comes to change, determine where you do have choice and where you don’t. Choice is important because it gives you a sense of control. Choice can also help you focus on the things that can help you make change work for you rather than against you.

3. Manage your emotional state

85% of what we worry about never happens, and when it does, the vast majority of the time we can handle the difficulty better than expected or the difficulty taught us a lesson worth learning¹

Our thoughts drive our feelings. Our best judgement comes when we are calm. Judith Glaser’s research on Conversational EQ tells us that when we’re emotionally charged or we perceive we’re in an environment of distrust, we lose our capacity for empathy and listening. In an environment of change, these skills are really important and can help us show up in a way that is congruent with our values.

Bringing it all together

Our inner thoughts and feelings create our reality and experiences. How can you experience change in ways that are going to work well for you and give you a sense of winning rather than losing? I’d love to know.

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