This week’s blog is a “note to self”, a reminder that my own resistance or attachment to change can make my work life more of a struggle than it needs to be. Hopefully, this personal reflection on organizational change will be of benefit to others working in small businesses, corporations, non-profits, or government.
At work in a large organization, I often hear or make comments such as “when things slow down,” or “when we come up for air,” or “when everything finally settles down.” I’ve noticed that the future time when everything is stable, working smoothly and stress-free is a myth that I believe despite all evidence to the contrary. New challenges arise daily. Holding onto a future ideal and vision can be a powerful motivating factor to make an organization better, but it can also obscure the reality that organizational change will always be occurring. Similarly, holding onto the comfort of how the organization was yesterday or last year puts me into a mentality of a golden age when things were simpler. Also not true.
So if change is really present and occurring all the time, why is it still so difficult for me to accept? For me, change that is outside of my control often feels like change for the sake of change. As an engaged leader, I feel it is my responsibility to challenge change that seems at odds with our core business and mission. I take pride in speaking up in those situations, but I also have to know when to back off and realize what is outside of my control. I can do my best to influence change by building relationships that value open and honest dialogue. However, once my voice has been heard, whether my view prevails or not, I have to let go, accept, and move on.
My resistance to change that I don’t want or attachment to change that I do want is usually more painful than the reality of the change itself. As a leader, I have to fight the good fight, advocate for some changes, push back against others, but when the dust settles, it serves no one to hang onto what was or could have been. If I hang on too tight or resist the change happening now, I set myself up for burnout and even bitterness and that’s no way to engage the next inevitable change. Instead, I want to anticipate change, be open to it, be curious about it and ask lots of questions from a position of not knowing and not pre-judging, then embrace or challenge it through the lens of my professional experience, make my voice heard, influence what I can, and finally let go, accept, and move on.