“Experience is a tough teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.”
– Vernon Sanders Law 

 As many of you know, in February I had a “heart stopping experience” that slowed me down– both literally and figuratively. In a previous post, I was still struggling to appropriately process the profound effect that this experience had on my life. Since then, I have further clarified some lessons that I’ve gained through my heart attack experience.

The most important lesson, which applies equally to life and business, is that change is unavoidable. We will encounter personal and professional circumstances that are beyond our control. Fortunately, both wisdom and growth can come from our response to those changes. Here are some lessons I have learned when dealing with change.

Prepare relentlessly. Although we are unable to control the world around us, we are often able to foresee what could come our way. They say that hindsight is 20/20, but hindsight won’t help you in a crisis.  Although foresight may not be 20/20, foresight has the advantage of not being clouded by stress and urgency. Planning ahead for worst-case scenarios helps you gather all the information you will need to put thoughtful plans in place in advance. These are the plans that you will need to rely on if a crisis happens. Create contingency and succession plans that prepare you, your family and your business for unforeseen scenarios. Don’t wait for the crisis to leave you flat-footed.
Recognize, believe, and accept that change is occurring. It is impossible to control outside circumstances that might affect your life or business. And it is foolish to ignore the implications of change. Be cautious of prideful thinking that might lead you to believe that you can stop change from happening. Instead, seek the grace that is necessary to accept the adjustment.
Pause and calmly assess the situation. When a major change has come your way, it can put your business or even your very life in danger. But do not give in to fear. Remain calm as you pause to assess the situation in its entirety. Whether or not you have prepared for this situation, a clear-headed response can turn a crisis into an opportunity. Trust your instincts.
Determine if you should yield or take control. It is at times necessary for all of us to seek and accept help during a time of change. Let go of the belief that you should be strong enough to handle alone anything that comes your way. There is nothing shameful about seeking a helping hand during a difficult time. Furthermore, by asking others for help, you gain access to additional perspective and wisdom that may aid you in your response.
Drive action intentionally and deliberately. Responding to change requires that you gain a firm grasp on the situation and a sense of urgency around the actions to be taken. In uneasy times of change, each decision made can be critical. Be clear about the course ahead of you and move forward strategically and thoughtfully.
Adapt and respond to the change. Although this may be the most difficult step of all, it is also the step that will surely produce the most growth in your life or business. While the initial change that was thrust upon you may feel like a refiner’s fire, your response to the change will prove your strength. As you implement your plan, step back from time to time to monitor and adjust your course as needed.
Inform those affected by the change. No one wants to be kept out of the loop, so make sure that anyone who will be affected by the change is well informed of the implications and the plan for moving forward. And don’t forget to express gratitude to those who were involved in the change process.

At the end of a change process you will surely feel exhausted – physically and mentally. It is important to recognize the course you have just navigated. Change is never easy… but it can certainly be beneficial. Take time to celebrate your achievement. Congratulations! You have fought the good fight and entered a new season of opportunity.

-Clifford A. Bailey
speaker, CEO, navigator of change

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012 at 6:00 am and is filed under Change Management, Effectiveness, Emotional Intelligence, S.H.A.P.E.. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.