This would be an interesting shopping experience…
What if you could visit a store that sold change? Not like pocket change but real world change–transformations in your life? You pay money and you receive a change in your life. There is no way for you to know what the change will be. It would be like gambling. You pull the lever, the slot machine spins the wheels and… maybe a new dining experience at a restaurant you have never visited or a recommendation for a Tony Robbins book or a new relationship or change in career or an unforgettable vacation or a move to a new city or who knows?
All you are promised when you enter the store is if you buy something, you will not leave the same and, almost always, the change will be for the better. How often would you frequent this store? How much change would you become addicted to? Would you be a frequent shopper?
Can you imagine walking into every mall and seeing, amid the stale, predictable shopping mall staples (JC Penney, Sears, Express, Macy’s, Forever 21, Yankee Candle, etc.) a store that always promises a new experience–a life changing experience–The Change Store?
Today’s Lesson: Guess what? You probably knew this was coming, but The Change Store actually exists! The owners do not actually call it The Change Store, though. We just call it “life” and the best part is you do not actually have to pay any money to walk out with a positive change! Depending how much change you really want, all it costs is a little Courage (sometimes a lot of courage), Patience, and Persistence. Ready to go shopping?
The room was cold, and I could feel the goose bumps prickling up my arms. It was not unbearable but I knew I was going to be stuck there for at least a few more hours and I hate feeling cold.
As the weather turns toward winter in Michigan, I find myself needing long-sleeved undershirts again, but there is a few weeks between fall and winter where it is too warm for an undershirt and a sweater but too cold for a sweater alone.
I usually opt for the sweater alone. I actually prefer to be too warm rather than too cold but I try to seize small opportunities to embrace being uncomfortable.
Like most people, I avoid and sometimes even fear change. Still, I seize opportunities to be outside of my comfort zone–not too far, but just a little more each day. Being chilly for a few hours is low-hanging fruit (it is definitely not as challenging as, say, giving a speech in front of a hundred people) but the point is not about the extremes. It is simply to try being okay with being uncomfortable for a while.
For some people, that might be as easy as wearing your socks with the heel cup on top of your foot for a few hours. Or it can be as challenging as saying hello to a stranger while standing in line at the grocery store, or having dinner at a restaurant by yourself, or dancing in public. For some of us, all of those things are on the low-end of feeling uncomfortable. For some people, those things are more challenging than jumping out of a plane or scaling a mountain.
What can you do now to increase your ability to embrace change and be more comfortable with being uncomfortable?
I like to change my look once in a while. Last year, I let my grow hair long. This year it is more like a Caesar cut. I went from wearing shorts and t-shirts or polos to giving away my tees in place of collared button-downs.
Embracing change is important. It helps us learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, and when we are out of our comfort zone, we are led to learn and grow.
When I had long hair, it was a learning experience (I learned I didn’t like it!). I had to change how I cared for it and I noticed how other people perceived me differently. Just a simple change to my look actually changed others!
What can you change today about your habits, or your look, or your demeanor to see if you can improve your life by doing one small thing differently?
I have been struggling with helping my team move an entirely new direction lately. I am trying to transform the way we have done things to a framework better suited for future success (the world changes constantly; we must learn to adapt or become extinct, both in business and in life). My team has been fairly resistant despite blanket agreement on the need for change and a clear understanding of the action plan.
Of course, I expect some fear of change. Change is uncomfortable. It requires us to chart new territory and that can be scary.
On the other hand, when the boss says we need to do something, then most people tend to speak compliance (“sure thing, boss!”)–that is an often unfortunate side effect of having role-power (authority granted to you based solely on your job title). Saying we agree and actually agreeing, I have learned, are two different things. People who tend to believe they are powerless to act will act in passive-aggressive ways (“Sure thing, boss, I’ll call that client first thing in the morning! (Just like I said I would but didn’t the last 3 times you asked…)”
The missing piece, I think, is not giving the person a chance to tell me why they are not on board. I did a great job explaining the why and the how, but forgot to pause as a leader, and say, “It sounds like you agree with me and we are on the same page. So now tell me what you think is in our way to making it happen.”
By offering the chance to give input, I offer my team a chance to specify the obstacles in their way and collaborate with me on taking the next step together. It also secures their buy-in. Once they have identified their obstacles and how to address them, the team is essentially putting themselves on the line for getting it done. There is not a lot of wiggle room for not meeting a result when you came up with the plan yourself and committed to achieving it.
Sharing a vision and hearing agreement is one thing. To gain real commitment, I had to bring the plan to light and let my team poke at it with a stick a few times before they trust it not to turn around and bite them.
Sometimes my team has to know they are part of creating our vision and walking toward it next to me, rather than being dragged into it behind me.
If you are leading a team, here is a good tip to keep in mind during a 1 on 1 coaching conversation: you do not have to defend yourself.
Some leaders feel they have to explain exceptions (perceived or real) to rules and justify their own requests. Your team member might question, “Why should I take out the trash? I never see Johnny and Susie taking it out.”
A leader caught off-guard will start back-pedaling. “Well, I’ll talk to Johnny and Susie…” or, “It’s not Johnny’s job to take it out…” or, “Susie has back issues so it has to be you…”
A better response might look like this, “We’re not talking about Johnny’s and Susie’s behaviors right now. We’re discussing yours.”
Firm but fair. An equally good response, I think, is simply to acknowledge their disagreement and move on. “I hear you. So, you understand the need to put the trash out timely, and you have seen me demonstrate the process. How do you plan on making sure it happens as expected?”
At the end of the day, you are the one in charge and it might help to remind yourself someone put you in charge because they trust you to exercise your judgment. When you find yourself defending your own requests (assuming they are reasonable and within company guidelines) or justifying your actions to a belligerent or misguided team member, you must ask yourself who is actually doing the leading in that moment?
Your job is to coach and lead the team to success. That does not mean the team is expected to always follow you without question, but it does mean you do not always have to defend your decisions or actions with an answer. Sometimes the best defense against an employee trying to squirm away from being held accountable is simply not to defend yourself and keep the focus on their accountability.