Like sands through an hourglass so are the days of our lives. So began the opening line of a long-running soap opera. What a spot-on analogy of life. Here today; gone tomorrow. The landscape of our lives is constantly changing which wreaks a great deal of havoc on humans who would often rather die than change. We lose relationships and our health; we miss once in a lifetime and repeated opportunities, yet we continue to blame everyone but ourselves.
I submitted the first draft for my doctoral dissertation yesterday. I studied two organizations that went through a merger. It reads like a tale of two cities. On one hand, you have those who were excited about the new opportunity. On the other, you had those who saw it as a threat to their way of doing business. Isn’t it strange how two people can look at the same event and see something completely different?
In both organizations, a sizeable number had been employed for more than 20 years. Therefore, they both had their comfort zones. Those who favored the merger saw the merger as something bigger than themselves. They looked at this as a chance for the greater good, with better services to be provided for their customers. They also had a pragmatic view of what it takes to compete in our modern global economy and knew that one had to constantly be reviewing options in order to grow and maximize profitability. In their case, longevity gave them a seasoned perspective of the past, an awareness of the present, and a vision for the future. They were conscious of the need to grow and competent to make the transition.
In the other case, longevity led to stagnation and entrenchment. Their processes had hardly changed in decades and some employees were happy to have it stay that way. They were unconscious of the need to grow. What had worked so well before would certainly continue to do so. The problem, or opportunity, is that business today moves and therefore changes at the speed of light. There is no room for antiquated mindsets assuming what worked yesterday is going to work today. Those who became entrenched were those who were either unwilling or felt incapable of changing.
One of the questions I asked participants of the merger was to rate their desire to be personally developed on a scale of 1 to 10. You see, if you are a lifelong learner, there is no change that will come into your field of vision which you won’t be able to deconstruct and find a solution to implement. Innovation is hard work. We like what we know. We like our routines. We feel comfortable doing the jobs that we know how to do with the people we’ve come to know while driving the same commute to work. When we are really good at what we do, moving past the comfort zone is especially difficult. Remember the saying, ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’? That’s this type of mentality.
Today’s mentality is, break it, disrupt it, and reconstruct it, because someone out there is doing that exact same thing. Some company, right now, is finding a way to do a piece of your business more efficiently and at a lower cost. Experts refer to this as fragmentation who are players who have entered by finding more effective ways of doing pieces of the solutions chain. For example, I’ve been in publishing for eleven years. The entire model has shifted relentlessly as printers, publishers, editors, marketers, websites, shippers, and authors have continued to redefine the playing field. Hence, we need to meet the emerging needs of new clients. We need to find emerging markets. Success takes creativity, vision, and the ability to drive innovation forward.
While my study was about how leaders viewed their followers and how followers viewed their leaders, one of the most important findings of my research is, the most important thing is how do you view yourself? The critical thing is to believe in ourselves that we can change, because without that, no amount of promises or promotions is going to bring you onto the other field. Change is an opportunity and lifelong learning is the guaranteed pathway to success. Without it, you’ll never be any bigger, any smarter, or anything more than where you are right now.
The best thing you can do for your organization in this robust economy is to be incredibly selective about assembling a lean, teachable, and driven team. Keep learning at the heart of your enterprise. We just released a book titled, Moving Up 2020 and Beyond, which is a must-read. I was so excited about the manuscript I readily agreed when the authors asked me to write the foreword. The world may be changing, but resilient adaptable leaders and followers will always find their seat at the table. If you want to hone your ability to go all in, the principles in this book apply to anyone, in any industry, at any stage of their life.
Another tremendous title on the horizon is SPARK: Five Essentials to Igniting the Greatness Within. My latest release includes my doctoral research which centered on the key to self-motivation. Check out the pre-release bundle here and get your free copy of the motivational classic, The Secret of Success!
Tracey is now booking for speaking engagements in late 2019 and early 2020 on Ethics and Excellence, Crisis Leadership, Engaging Employees in the Age of Millennials, Women in Leadership, Making the Dream Team a Reality, Unlocking Motivation, and the Power of Books.