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Embrace change

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I find my greatest source of conflict at work involves change. I am always looking for innovative ways to improve processes and deliver greater results. The problem is my love of all things novel doesn’t seem to be shared by many. Unfazed by the collective groan reverberating in the halls after an “announcement,” I feel renewed passion and excitement for my work. I’ve learned the discontent of the change resistant is a symptom of perspective. Change can be wrought with frightening uncertainty, but that’s the nature of possibility. Fear of failure can be debilitating, but failure is as temporary a state as any other and is often the catalyst for changes that lead to success. The tendency to focus on the risks and initial investment of labor results in outright opposition to change and is a mistake. Truth is everything changes, all the time. Resistance is only likely to delay the inevitable and create a contentious work environment. However, there is an alternative; embrace change as opportunity.

Rather than approaching change as a challenge, reframe it as an opportunity. Change is an opportunity to achieve new success. In private, few people would admit their products or processes are flawless. Even if one were arrogant enough to believe s/he achieved perfection, there is always room to improve efficiency. If someone ever does manage to attain perfection, you can be sure it will be fleeting. Climates, markets, and cultures continuously change; a static notion of excellence will not hold up to environmental pressures. Success is a process, not a result. Focus on the potential benefits and possibilities for future improvement. It is easy to become bogged down by the minutiae of implementing major changes. Merely shifting focus from tedious details to potential outcomes can be motivating. Remember, the processes involved in implementing change are also subject to change. With the big picture in mind, each step towards achieving that goal becomes another opportunity to develop creative solutions.

Too often we become content with good enough, but success requires us to constantly strive to be better: not perfect, but always better. A species’ survival is dependent on the ability of individual members to change in response to environmental pressures, and so it is in business as well. Those who refuse to adapt will be eliminated by competition. In an earlier incarnation, I had the great pleasure of sharing the joys of psychology with hundreds of college freshmen and sophomores. In my ethology lectures, students would invariably ask when we stopped evolving. My answer was always the same, “I hope we haven’t.” The only alternative to evolution is extinction. It is my goal to never be good enough.

Stephanie McWilliams is Director of Career Services at Charter College, Fife Campus. She can be reached at (253)252-4232 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).