At the end of a year and the start of a new one, you and I often think about change.
Changes we want to make in our lives, or our businesses.
Doing things differently, starting something new, making our lives ‘better’.
At first sight it looks easy, but when we start to make the changes we desire, things don’t always turn out right.
We find it ‘harder’ than we thought it was going to be.
We find that there are all sorts of other things about our lives and businesses that implementing a ‘change’ affects.
When we ‘make a change’, ‘other things’ start to go wrong or stop happening
And sometimes we can’t seem to get the ‘change’ in place at all.
The thing is that everything is ‘connected’ together. We live in a dynamic Universe. If we alter one parameter by making a change then this affects everything else, everywhere, in some way or another.
And ‘small’ changes in one context can sometimes cause ‘big’ changes in a completely different context.
It happens all the time. We see it every day.
A change implemented by a company or a government for good and logical reasons can cause an unexpected ‘downside’ or even catastrophe somewhere else.
A simple example is when you or I add an additional member of staff to our business, or increase the number of members in our family by having a child. That change causes all sorts of other changes, some expected, some not.
And often a change intended for ‘the better’ turns out, after consequential changes, to be for ‘the worse’.
You see, you and I need to be very careful with change, and we need to understand two things.
First, what, and who, is it going to affect and in what way?
And second, what, or who, is there that is standing in its way. What is there that will ‘block’ it, stop it from happening, as and when we want?
Together, these could be called the ‘status quo’, the situation that is ‘now’. And in order to get to a new, post-change, status quo, there are three things you and I need to do.
There is a story about a very successful man who desires to know the meaning of life and he learns that there is a monk in a Zen monastery who can tell him what it is.
He manages to get an appointment to see the monk and begins to tell him about all his accomplishments and that all that is left for him is to understand the secret of life. The monk offers him a cup of tea and as the man continues to tell about all he has done and how great he is the monk slowly pours tea into his cup.
He continues to pour the tea while the man goes on and on about all the people he knows and all the things he’s achieved and eventually the tea overflows into the saucer and down on to the man’s leg.
The man jumps back and asks the monk “What’s the matter with you, the tea is overflowing everywhere!”
The monk replies – “The secret of life is this. A cup can only be filled when it is empty, you can only be filled when you are empty. Come back when you are not so full of yourself”.
If you or I desire a change than we must be sure that there is room in our ‘cup’. We need to get rid of any ‘baggage’ we are carrying with us to make room for the new.
If you go to buy a new sofa, you remove the old one first. If you’re looking for a new partner after a death or a divorce, then you need to make room in your heart for that new person.
We have to clear the decks, we have to make way.
Secondly, you and I also have to ‘let go’ in our heads of whatever it is we are replacing in this change.
It’s not just about physical and emotional space, it’s about changing the ‘wiring’ in your mind as well.
It’s no good if you take on a new employee, or a new client, interacting with them a in the same way as you have previously. You’ve made a change, things are different. Yes, you can follow the same processes, but not in the same way.
And if you buy a new car then, unless it’s identical to the old one, you’ll need to learn a different style of driving and that the controls are in different places. It takes a few days to reprogram your driving ‘auto pilot’.
And when I meet my new partner I won’t be engaging with her in the same way as I have done with previous partners!
Change means ‘different’ so you and I have to think differently and operate differently according to whatever that change is.
Now the third thing you and I need to do may seem a little odd.
Of course we have to prepare for the change, to make way for it and let go of old paradigms; but we also have to receive the change.
What I mean by that is before the change happens, alongside the ‘clearing’ processes you and I should visualise the change having happened, with as much clarity as possible, and we should also express gratitude for the change – even though it hasn’t happened yet.
Without clarity of vision about what the change is and how it’s going to work, there will be resistance.
This is especially true in a ‘corporate’ environment but it’s also very true in a personal situation. If you’re not clear about what the change is and how it’s going to work your brain will resist, it will procrastinate, or things will ‘go wrong’.
That’s just one side of it though, because expressing gratitude, heartfelt real gratitude, for the change, before it has happened, will greatly enhance if not guarantee the success of the change.
Be clear about the changes you are about to make and be grateful for them
Make space for the new and let go of the old.