Far too often success breeds arrogance, which leads to complacency. If we ride a single success beyond its effective lifespan – thinking “our way” is the only way – someone else will either assume our market share (by improving upon what we do), force us to change (by revealing the shortcomings of our established approach), or disrupt our stagnant but comfortable existence (by offering a more exciting option). We must actively appraise the things we do – both within our work and our personal relationships – retaining those things that contribute to our growth and replacing those that hold us back. By continuously analyzing both our strengths and weaknesses, identifying the things that hold us back and leveraging those that pull us forward, we can remain an effective contributor to the life around us.
Recognizing that change is the only constant in life is necessary if we are to enjoy the rewards that come from accepting the risks of change. We must learn to embrace the possibility of failure – recognizing that with failure comes learning which leads to growth. Success is not born through frantic movement without direction or purpose. It comes ONLY when we stop what we are doing – when we consider the many paths upon which we could travel – so we can begin doing something new by taking a new road in a different direction.
Whenever we initiate change, we must recognize and acknowledge three major factors - intentionally identifying and addressing their hold upon us:
- We must acknowledge where we have been, recognize what we have accomplished, and wish to be or do something different before we can start to travel upon a new path. How can we better serve our customers? What can we do to improve a relationship? Must we alter our behavior so that we can remain relevant within a changing world? Is there anything that we can do to strengthen another – or that we would be willing to allow another do to help strengthen us? We recognize the need for change when our goals or objectives have changed. We must consciously step from our original path onto one that will refocus and redirect our efforts if we wish to harvest the fruits of change. Before embarking on such a path, however, internalize that our desire to begin something new is stronger than our contentment with what we have – that moving forward provides more desirable rewards than remaining where we are.
- We must stop doing the things we are doing – that we have always done - no matter how effective they may have been in the past or how comfortable we might be in doing them. When we accept and acknowledge that change is necessary we must abandon the paths (and methods) with which we are comfortable, intentionally and deliberately walking away from the safety provided. A change in paradigm must often occur – walking away from “what is usually done and accepted by others” towards “what has not yet been tried.” A disciplinary procedure must not always include time off without pay (what is the value of suspension when an employee chooses not to work in the first place?). A relationship must provide all involved with a measure of satisfaction – building the esteem of all parties – or it is nothing more than a hollow structure built on shifting sand. How can a meaningful relationship be maintained if both parties want everything “their way” with neither willing to “walk a mile” in the other’s shoes?