Change can be pretty scary. I know that I’m kind of a freak of nature in that I wildly embrace change and in fact, go out of my way looking for it at times. Most people aren’t like that and with good reason, nature designs us to appreciate the status quo unless something is really terrible and even then we approach change cautiously.
In fact, back in February, I talked about my thoughts on change in this post.
In business, this extreme phobia of change can really hurt you almost as much as flipping around aimlessly from idea to idea. I’ve seen people who are absolutely drowning in their business with things that are entirely fixable, but they’d much rather go down with the ship they know than to take a chance, step into a new life raft and see where it takes them.
Recently, I’ve learned a valuable lesson from my 13-year-old son about change.
He’s a smart kid, does well in school and causes us no trouble. He’s respectful and the feedback we get about him from people who come into contact with him is that he’s a nice kid. That’s always pretty awesome feedback as a parent – our primary job is to raise good, well-adjusted humans who understand empathy and the importance of being part of a team.
He went to a new school this year for High School and it was a big change. Like most new things put in front of him, he embraced it.
His new school was a Catholic School – he’s not Catholic and had never stepped inside a church before going to this school. I grew up Catholic and spent 15 years in Catholic school, so I was a bit familiar with religious education. Also, the school was a boys only school and he had just spent seven years in co-education.
His third week in, we were notified that he was going to be doing the Year 7 reading at the first Mass of the year in front of his school house (about 250 kids) and parents. He marched up to the pulpit and confidently gave his reading to the congregation. He’d never been to a Mass before, he’d only ever been in a church once before to practice the reading the day before and he embraced that situation.
Over the course of the year, he’s continued to do well, but my wife and I haven’t been overly happy with the school for a bunch of reasons. About two months back we discussed among ourselves the idea of switching him out to the Public High School where a bunch of his primary school friends went.
We were worried about how that change would impact him, so we decided to keep mulling it over because we didn’t have to make a decision until mid-November.
A couple weeks back, he came home on a Friday, told us about his day and that was it for me – it was time for a change. Again, my wife and I discussed it that night and the next day raised it with him. He was excited about it – he thought it would be great and he looked at the positives of seeing his friends again.
Today we did a tour of the school and unfortunately, we disrupted a few classrooms as a number of kids waved to him and were excited to see him as we walked around the classrooms to see what was going on. As we were leaving, we got an enrollment pack and with him, he was talking about which bus he’d have to take, which of his friends he could potentially walk home with and how fun the “Blood, Guts and Glory” history class that the school offers sounds.
We made our mind up and we put in the enrollment papers earlier this afternoon, so he’s officially changing schools and he couldn’t be happier about it.
It made me think later this afternoon about change. I’m entirely confident he’ll do well at the new school and he’ll enjoy it, not just because he’s bright and easy going, but because he’ll simply embrace the change and figure out how to make the most of the situation. It sounds cliche to some degree, but he’ll “own it” – he won’t lament friends he left behind at his school this year, he’ll look forward to seeing his old friends and making new ones. He’s even excited about the new school uniform.
In my experience, that’s the way successful people are. It doesn’t matter if it’s business, sport, relationships or whatever else, people who embrace change when it needs to be made and look to find the upside rather than lament what’s been left behind always do better.
I wrote the other day about the mistake I made with my WordPress theme and the way I’ve used it. I knew the change needed to be made, I was resigned to it, but I didn’t really “embrace it” – it seemed like a necessary evil. Now, having watched how my son is embracing this change, I’ve started to look forward to making the change I need to make – I see it as an opportunity to do something new and make things better.
I bet you have similar things in your business. Stuff that you know needs to change, but that you just would rather not think about. What about trying to tackle it differently? Look at the change as an opportunity to do something new, find a way to make it better and change your mindset around so that it becomes a positive thing to do.
Just a small change in the way you think about a change can have such a big impact on your outlook and really energize you.
Go on, give it a try!