Don’t Settle for Either Or – You Can Have it All
Lately, I’ve been thinking a bit about change. Looking at the big picture, I don’t handle change well, either in my personal environment or in my work. But why? I’m relatively easy-going; I don’t mind changing plans at the last minute; I like doing new things. On a deeper level, though, I have a hard time breaking out of my shell. Why am I resistant to change? Initially, I think I resist change because I feel like I’ll be given more work. Or change might require me to learn and do something I’m not familiar with, therefore, weighing on my confidence. Change might require that I move outside my comfort zone. With change, I also risk failure. Overall, I think I prefer stability. Yes, that’s it. Stability.
However, change and stability are dependent on each other so the concepts of change and stability should be equal. The relationship between change and stability should be an “and” not an “either/or” type of relationship. I choose change and stability, not one or the other. I understood this concept driving home one night because I was thinking about how I could not be where I am in life, which is quite stable, without my ability to change. So, while at first I’d say I resist change, I then negate that statement by the fact that my life has been a movement of continuous change, planned or unplanned.
Marvin Wilson’s article, “The Successful Minority,” in the December 2002 issue of Training & Development speaks directly to the issue of change and stability. Taking risks is inevitable. If you avoid taking risks, over time risk will still manifest. Wilson classifies people who are willing to choose both change and stability as the Successful Minority. These individuals are willing to take risks to create something worth stabilizing. “Their zone of comfort is long, wide, and enduring. Their zone of danger or discomfort is acceptable, brief, and well managed,” says Wilson. The Successful Minority are willing to endure temporary discomfort to obtain ultimate comfort, which allows them to put theory into practice.
Wilson discusses five actions to turn theory into practice:
- Clearly articulate the benefits and risks of a decision.
- Realize that a decision is sold, advocated, or marketed to the people affected, those who must execute the decision or deliver on it.
- Address the question of how to get from here to there, taking into account current circumstances, requirements, and capabilities. This action is the turning point. The Successful Minority begin to pave a road where there is none. They don’t rely on typical best practices or boilerplate strategies.
- Ensure that the support chain-focus, message, incentives, training, and recognition-is congruent and consistent with the vision and required activities.
- Build early warning systems or lead indicators to monitor progress.
Don’t fall for making a choice between stability and change. As Wilson concludes, “Instead, reframe that choice as one that requires you to understand, embrace, and master the challenges of ambiguity and complexity in a rapidly and constantly evolving marketplace.” We all have the ability to be part of the Successful Minority.