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, tend to 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. In so doing you begin 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.
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?”
Take personal responsibility to understand how the change could affect the way you have been working.
This could mean having more in-depth conversations about the impact of the change. This will include both with those to whom you are accountable, and those who 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 just prefer a better quality of biscuit, but now be willing to reduce that to two days a week.
Continue to keep a clear vision in mind of ‘being your best’ while you explore different options.
If you feel that you are still not achieving this, go back to the first option and make sure that you clearly understand why the change has come about. Then reflect on the second option of ensuring that your actions are having a good effect. You can especially focus on enabling a quality of relationship robust enough to encourage your colleagues to give you the honest feedback, safely and comfortably.
When you finally feel that you have ‘cracked it’, take some time to reflect on your success. Congratulate yourself for growing and rising to the challenge.
Three tips to help you develop a sense of inner security when facing challenges, and experience a deeper sense of achievement
Tip 1: Get off the hamster wheel.
Stop running your life on ‘to-do-lists’. Make a list of 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 focusing on what is important to you and connect with that in your heart. This emotional charge will keep that value ‘alive’ within you all day.
Tip 3: When anxiety rises, just stop.
Be aware of your feelings throughout the day. If you notice anxiety rising stop, look out the window, and breathe deeply. Have a laugh with a colleague to get off the hamster wheel.