Have you suddenly been dropped from the project you’ve been working on – or have your targets changed again? Have new control mechanisms been instituted? We’ve all had these experiences – and they can be deeply frustrating. Yet, as we have been repeatedly told, change is the new constant, not only in the workplace, but in life generally. Successful people try to meet any challenge by finding ways to convert the energy of frustration, disappointment, and anxiety into the energy of motivation – to ‘be their best’.
Many people don’t quite get this yet, and in trying to feel safe they could respond by going into ‘zombie mode’. They shrink down, do exactly what they are told, and, above all, they take steps to cover their backs. Yet, in reality, this probably leaves them feeling like a rabbit caught in the headlights – anything but safe. Rising to a challenge calls on you to bring your best thinking, your inherent intelligence, to the situation at hand. This is a vital element of being human; the ability to think and reflect. And, in so doing, starting to feel more secure, rather than being the victim of circumstance. There are at least three ways to bring your innate intelligence into play when faced with change and challenges.
1. Get a better understanding of what management wants to achieve. Query the outcome of the change being instituted. As you try to improve your comprehension of the situation, be discerning about who you chat to. Seek out those with a positive, ‘can do’ approach. They are more likely to understand the ‘bigger picture’. Avoid the moaners who, in their discomfort, will use any opportunity to find fault. When questioning changes, try to avoid using a blunt interrogative style. People are happier to explore ideas with you when your language invites conversation. So, say things like:
- “I’ve been thinking about these changes, and I’d like more information about…”
- “I’m wondering if there could be a different solution, could we consider …?”
- “I‘m not sure I understand … could you give me more details?”
2. Be personally responsible to understand how the change impacts the way you have been working. This could mean having more in-depth conversations about the impact of the change with both those to whom you are accountable and those who, in turn, are accountable to you.
The following examples may be simplistic, but you could apply these principles to any situation. Say you have been asked to cut office spending by X%. Instead of implementing a control sheet restricting the amount of printing and photocopying, you might first do some research and calculations. For example, you could recommend to management that they rather update the printer to one using cheaper ink cartridges. Or, instead of down-grading the office biscuits to a cheaper, less tasty variety, rather chat with the staff. They may prefer a better quality of biscuit, but now on only two days a week.
3. Keep a clear vision in mind of you ‘being the best’ whilst exploring different options. If you should feel that you are still not ‘being your best’, go back to the first option of making sure you have a clear understanding of why the change has come about. Then reflect on the second option of ensuring that your actions are having a good effect. Consider also whether the relationships you have built are robust enough to encourage people to give you their honest feedback, safely and comfortably. Then, when you do feel that you are ‘cracking it’, take some time to reflect on your success; congratulate yourself for growing and rising to the challenge.
THREE WAYS TO FORTIFY YOURSELF AS YOU RISE TO THE CHALLENGE
Tip 1: Get off the hamster wheel.
Stop running your life on ‘to-do-lists’. Make an inventory on what’s important to you. Find ways to ensure that you give time to these important things each day.
Tip 2: Create an emotional ‘charge’.
Develop a morning practice of focussing on what is important to you and connecting with them in your heart. This emotional charge will keep them ‘alive’ within you all day.
Tip 3: When anxiety rises, just stop.
Pay attention to your feelings throughout the day. If you feel anxiety rising stop, look out the window, breathe deeply. Laugh with your colleague to get off the hamster wheel.