The Hazards of Cruise Control – Four Steps to Embracing Change
“Cruise Control is the enemy of success. We resist change because we overestimate the value of what we have and underestimate the value of what can be gained through change.”
When faced with change, there is often a feeling of disorientation. One minute you are cruising along in a certain direction on a path that you believed was leading you towards a desired goal or certain future, and then . . . BAM.
But is what you originally envisioned your only future?
A New Palette
After graduating with a degree in business, Erik Wahl became a high-powered executive at a corporate firm. He had charted his course and knew where he was headed. Then, after eight years, he lost his job when the dot-com bubble burst.
It was then that he shifted his focus to art, and in particular, speed painting.
To most, this was a complete turnaround in that he went from suits and cell phones, to paint brushes and canvasses.
However, and because he was able to adapt and imagine a new future, Erik Wahl is now one of the country’s most sought after business speakers. His speed art presentation called “The Art of Vision,” has enthralled audiences and motivated business professionals from organizations such as AT&T, London School of Business and Ernst & Young to see beyond the familiar to achieve greater outcomes.
At the heart of his message is the belief that it is more important to be creative than to be stable, especially in times of change.
The question is how do you go from resisting change when the rate of change is not going to slow down. What’s the secret for embracing unpredictability? The following four steps will help you to get there . . . wherever your “new” there is.
1. Your First Reaction Is Not Your Best Reaction
Beliefs are at the core of our foundation, and influence our desire to change or move or try something else. This is a principle that I covered at length in my first book, entitled Customize Your Career (2004). Beliefs or “perceptions of self” determine your values and ultimately the goals you both set and work toward achieving in terms of your future success.
As a result, and whether expected or not, change actually threatens your belief system. This is why you may – like so many people, summarily resist it, because it shakes up not only your view of the world, but your view of yourself.
This is why you have to look beyond your initial reaction and open yourself up to the possibilities associated with change.
You may very well discover that what you initially considered to be an upset is, in reality, the doorway to a bigger and brighter future.
2. Be Willing To Let Go
I once saw a picture on a friend’s office wall of a baseball player sliding into base. Above, the caption read, “You can’t steal second with your foot on first.”
Are you someone who likes to (or needs to) hang on to the past? Do you spend your thought power on looking at what has already happened, instead of influencing what will happen? For most, there is comfort and certainty in the familiar. However, sometimes these are not accurate indicators that you are on the right path. Sometime they can actually mask the fact that you are in a rut.
An essential step to embracing change requires you to let go. A priest recently shared his wisdom with his congregation, where he said that if you live in the past, you will live with regrets! But if you live in the present, you’ll live with passion and opportunities. Are you ready to take on the world of possibility?
3. Believe anything is possible
When my Mother turned 88, I remember asking her how she felt about getting old. Her response was most inspiring. She said: ”Roz, when I get there, I’ll let you know.” My Mother lived her life to the fullest and taught me that attitude is the force that makes the impossible possible.
For me, I never believed that I would be travelling around the world, privileged to be speaking to Fortune 500 companies. What’s the change you see possible for yourself, and are your looking through a clear and fresh lens of objective enthusiasm?
Take a step back, and pretend that you are at the beginning of your career when everything is new and all things are possible. At this stage you’re likely not invested so much in your present vision of what the future should look like. As a result, you have an elasticity in terms of options, and are open to trying new things. This is the spirit you want to bring to the table when a change is happening in your career and life.
In other words, look to the future for possibilities, but use the present to lay the foundation.
4. Find Your Undiscovered YOU
Change does not mean that you compromise your values, or attempt to do something that is clearly outside of the scope of your unique abilities.
However, change may actually enable you to discover an untapped well of capability and skills that you have never used. I call this finding the “undiscovered you.”
The questions you need to ask yourself is simply this: Do you have a hidden talent and capability? Is there a gift that you possess that is muted and hidden under the obfuscating belief of what you think you are, as opposed to what you could be? What do you enjoy doing that inspires others to recognize your talents? What type of work energizes you and gives you enormous pleasure?
Going back to my story about Erik Wahl, a sudden and unexpected change was the best thing that could have ever happened to him. Why should change treat you any differently?