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Get out of the Way—the Train is Coming! When Personal Change is a Matter of Survival

Do you believe in change? You in fact really do believe in rapid, decisive and measurable change—to get out of the way of an oncoming train. Everyone alters their course each day as events of the day unfold.

But is change good? The argument will go on forever. You know people who see change as bad—it shows weakness of character. Others see change as good—part of the human journey to move and improve.

Which are you? We know some people are more wired for change than others. Some react viscerally to change—it’s dangerous to stability and can rip your life apart. Others change if you can make a really good case for it. Others are biased to change—it presents new opportunity.

When and under what circumstances do we change? Rarely easily.

If we’re constantly in situations that cause us pain and threaten our professional and personal life—we can and do change.

We know that the answer to should I change or not is both “yes” and “no.” Here are some guidelines that can help us decide when to say “yes” and “no” to change.

1. There is the fundamental “you” that you can never change—so don’t. What is that core “me?” It’s important to keep it. I’ve let people talk me out of who I am too many times, and I’m working to never let that happen again. But what’s “me” and what are my stubbornly held habits that are holding me back? You might let someone help you think this one through. But however you do it, start with a personal inventory.

2. “Crowd Source” Your Change. If criticism comes at you from nowhere and randomly the criticism may not be valid—just one person’s opinion.

But if groups give you negative feedback consistently in the same areas, you might want to consider changing those behaviors.

Early in my career when I got negative feedback, it was the same, no matter who the group of people was, the time or place. One group would tell me, “You know, Jack, to be candid you’re a steamroller, never ask anyone else’s opinion, and you’re manipulative.”

I would think, “I can’t believe they said that about a nice guy like me,” but guess what? When I moved on, that same evaluation followed me. I decided that it was important to change those behaviors, and I have over the years. “Crowd source” your changes. In this case the wisdom is probably in the crowd.

3. Target the Behaviors you Want to Change. Target the behaviors that will lead to the loss of jobs, relationships, family. Manage your life as a MASH unit. Work on changing what could bring disastrous results.

And, work on what makes you happy. In the end, you’re the person you’ll have to get along with forever. Join a band, learn to tango, improve your golf or tennis game.

4. Make Small Changes Every Day so that You Won’t have to Make Huge Changes Later—Under Difficult Circumstances. It’s much easier to make small changes every day rather than having to reinvent yourself with a different skillset and style. If you’re still wearing a pony tail and sandals in 2018, is that your style, or are you just frozen in time? If the last change you made was in 1990, the world you live in is way back there. Most people frozen in time do fine—if they don’t need to fit into the modern era we live in. Most people who need to make a 10-year leap into today’s world, won’t have the ability or the will to do that. Change a bit every day.

With an ever-accelerating pace of change driven by technology, competition, fragmented demographics and the pressures of multiple generations in the same workforce, think of change as a muscle: use it or lose it. Build that change muscle—and get comfortable with personal change as your “new normal”—and you’ll maintain your relevance. Decide that you’re “done changing,” and you will find yourself out of the action and wondering why.

Austin, Texas

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Carol Kallendorf, PhD. | (512) 417-9756 

Jack Speer | (512) 417-9428


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