The Inevitable

change-management1

 

Adapting to Change

Change is inevitable. In fact it is one of the few things guaranteed about life, so they say. Occasionally that change will take the form of obstacles that threaten to derail our goals. So what happens when an unwanted change is forced upon us? That goal we have spent months, years, working towards suddenly seems unattainable. The uncertainty that shrouded it before is replaced by something far worse. We are left heavy chested, de-motivated, deluded. For all intents and purposes, a storm-cloud drifts overhead, blocking out the light that is our goal.

In 1950 Warren Buffett was faced with such a moment, when his first College preference, Harvard, failed to offer him admission into their School of Economics. So too did Steve Jobs in 1985, when he was unceremoniously forced out of his position on Apple’s board of directors. Curtis Jackson (50 Cent) was left with a permanent slur following his shooting in 2000. He could no longer rap in the style of the time.

Warren Buffett would go on to study under Ben Graham at the University of Columbia, a twist of fate he cites as a major influence on his success in business later in life. Steve Jobs used his time away from Apple to enter “one of the most creative periods of (his) life”. He started the companies NeXT and Pixar, and would ultimately develop the technology at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance following Apple’s purchase of NeXT in 1996. Jackson would develop a new style which became known as “Gangsta Rap”. His first album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 872,000 copies in its first four days, with his “unflappable, laid-back flow” noted as a key selling point by Rolling Stone Magazine.

Can we say that Warren Buffett was fortunate to find another great teacher, rendering his initial disappointment unsubstantiated? Are we to attribute the success of Steve jobs to the fact that he is Steve Jobs, an incredibly gifted innovator with a knack for seeing things others could not? And perhaps Curtis Jackson too was lucky insofar as his “setback” provided him with key ingredients required to succeed in his industry.

Perhaps.

However what is clear, is that Buffett’s, Job’s and Jackson’s stories share a common pattern which required each to accept an emerging situation in the guise of a setback, and capitalize on what it had to offer. For Buffett this was paying keen attention to the staff he had access to. For Jobs it was the freedom to create and design without the responsibility of managing a billion-dollar company. For Jackson it meant persisting with a style that at the time received much less fanfare, and being able to build fanfare for his album without the constraints associated with working under a major record label.

Every reality, situation, scenario, obstacle, context, success and failure has the capacity to be a positive influence on our life. This is what these people epitomize, and it is what they realized at the time. A critical point in the ultimate success they would have.

Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War, claims that in battle, it is important to switch attention to other frontline areas to attack, when a situation at a certain point is known to be lost. In this way, you can still capitalize on the situation, even when that situation involves a certain defeat. In less abstract terms, Peter Sheahan, author of Flip outlines a similar concept when discussing a company’s ability to capitalize on emerging markets.

This awareness and ability to adapt to change can be achieved when we have cultivated the necessary mental tools and perspective required to manage such situations.

Simply put, our new environment can be the agent from which we thrive. We must cultivate this belief, creating the habit within us of constantly directing our attention towards possible positives in an ever-changing context. This will affect how our bottom-up (automated) brain processes influence our perception of the world around us.

It also means engaging in critical thinking to plot a path forward. Psychologist Richard Davidson names ‘focus’ as a core ability that enables us to navigate the turbulence of whatever challenges life brings. Psychologist Daniel Goleman, author of international bestseller Emotional Intelligence, outlines emotional distraction as a major contributor that disrupts this ability to focus. The sadness (emotional distraction) felt when we experience a setback increases the demand on the neural wiring of the brain required for selective attention, i.e. the means by which we will be able to identify a resolution. It is thus beneficial to reduce the emotional burden associated with a setback when attempting to brainstorm steps for progress.

Reaching your goal does not necessarily require superhuman efforts. However, it will, in all probability, require you to adapt, displaying flexibility in response to a setback. It is critical that you can find the positives in the new situation and view it with objectivity, free from the anchor that was your previous plan. This response has the potential to make or break your success.

Machiavelli, author of The Prince, said “To become king you don’t have to be brilliant, just shrewd in a lucky way.” It is this shrewdness, this knack for considering a new environment, and plotting a successful path through it, which gives you the potential to flourish where others will fail.

Change is inevitable. It is best you learn to embrace it. Matthew Collings

About: 

Jerome is the “go to” person when you are at a crossroads in your business, suffering with high levels of stress,facing challenges and not getting the results you desire in your life.

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