“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent… it is the one most responsive to change”. Charles Darwin
Whatever business you lead or own, managing change is a critical aspect of your role – it’s key to success. If you can build a strategy and culture that takes the best of what’s past, while responding to what’s coming on the horizon you’re more likely to thrive than simply survive day by day. Change initiatives still need stakeholder engagement and communication programmes, but there’s an underlying competence that is also needed – a deep connection to change itself. The two keys to that connection are how we relate to time and space.
1. Create a Relationship to Time
This is the starting place. Every day is new – we are never the same person we were yesterday, nor will we be the same tomorrow. Not just biologically in terms of the cellular cycle of renewal and death but in terms of our mental constructs informed by conversations, online forums, different thinking and experiences – the small everyday ones as well as the life-altering ones. To manage and respond to change, you need to have a strong relationship to time in both the abstract and linear sense. Typical opportunities are birthdays, the passing of loved ones, the end of the year, or as I do, at the beginning of each month – look back at the journey, look forward to where you’re headed, and then assess how best to respond in the present.
Change is a constant, and every moment is a moment of transition. Our experience of time changes shape depending on the experience, our age, how much attention we’re paying, and our intent – what we’re bringing to each and every moment.
2. Create Space
When we’re under pressure, our minds are so focused on the task(s) at hand that it’s like a lid has been put on our ability to sense the bigger picture. Our breathing becomes shallow. Tension in the body restricts natural laughter or a smile. In the business environment, we’re as ‘space poor’ as ‘time poor’. Heads down, busy busy busy. Working to achieve the holy grail of increased productivity with less resource. Mistakes and compromises are made, poor decision making is rampant, communication suffers, leading to misunderstandings and wasted effort. Space. It’s not even a question of ‘creating it’. It’s there, we just fill it. So the invitation is to empty, to simplify, to prioritise differently and to just ‘be’ for a short while every day. Switch off, disconnect, cloud watch, lie down and daydream.
In this place, change can be observed in a much broader context. Change can either be experienced as something that is happening to us, or as a natural part of life, an invitation to dance with it, shape it according to our vision for the future and what we want to create. Stuckness occurs when we are too attached to the present, by letting go and allowing time and space in our lives, we create the opportunity for potential and possibility to reveal itself in ways we may not have imagined.
So my question – my invitation – to you today is how can you create more time and space to partner with change in a positive way, thriving and smiling? And as a leader, how can you extend that invitation to those around you, so that as an organisation you respond to change in the best way possible?