You CAN Unstick Your Business, Through Business Transformation.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the many people that I encounter in my consulting work as a business coach.
If you believe what people say, then lots of folks are feeling “stuck” these days. They may not use the exact word, but man, do they sure feel “stuck” (trapped, unfulfilled, stagnant, unmotivated…) This feeling of general inertia and immobility is a recurring theme, whether we’re talking about people that feel unfulfilled at work, others who wish they could change industries, or the dreamers who want so passionately to leave the relative “security” (i.e. paycheck) of full-time employment to pursue their dream of starting a business. And there are the business owners who I consult with that have witnessed their company’s sales flat line the past few years and can’t escape the dead man’s zone of doing “business as usual.”
This topic of unsticking yourself is near and dear to my heart. I launched The Chazin Group in 2009 after deciding that 20 years in Corporate America was enough time wasted. I risked everything to go out on my own, to help as many people as I could unstick themselves. For some people I consult with, that means finding their dream job. For others, my work involves helping them realize their dream of starting their own business.
If you’re like the many folks who are feeling “stuck” these days, well cheer up! In my experience, there are many things that we can do to get us unstuck. However, be warned that unsticking yourself isn’t for the faint of heart. It demands a lot, from having the courage to initiate self-reflection and introspection by asking yourself often painful questions that demand brutal honesty. You MUST possess a willingness to embrace risk-taking, AND have a passion for lifelong learning. Oh yeah, you should also be the kind of person that loves moving along the roads less traveled, ESPECIALLY you business owners looking to achieve business transformation in these challenging times. Do you have what it takes to complete this heavy lifting? Great! Let’s get going!
* Ask yourself where your passions and strengths collide. Where they overlap, you have identified a very short list of potential ideal career options that you can and MUST pursue.
* What do you want your LEGACY to be? What do you want to leave behind when all is said and done. What do you want to be remembered for? Write these down, because you are going to hold yourself accountable to the list and set goals around achieving the highest priority items you define.
* Stop doing the same things over and over again expecting a different outcome. Einstein called this act “insanity” and he was right. I am always amazed at people who choose to do “More of the same” when it comes to the things that aren’t working in their lives. Activity for activity sake is a tremendous resource drain and ultimately self-defeating.
* Set regular times each day, week, and month to revisit your personal and professional goals. The goals we set often need to be re-calibrated based on our natural tendency to change our values, beliefs, and needs.
* Start writing your own blog. This is a great way to rekindle your passion is to start writing on subjects that you’re passionate about and possess a wealth of knowledge about and experience in. In fact, this is an important first step you can take to begin building your own reputational brand as a subject matter expert. Along these lines, start writing articles to submit to the media for possible publication, maybe even write a book you can self-publish. It’s what I did when I first went out on my own back in 2009 when I authored the book: “Bulletproof Your Career in Turbulent Times.”
* Make the commitment to pursue one new venture each week. Learn a new software package. Take a class to learn a new language. Start playing a new instrument. Do a jigsaw puzzle. It’s the act of udnertaking the unknown on a regular basis that has the potential to get you accustomed to venturing outside of your comfort zone.
* Attend one new group meeting every month that is entirely UNRELATED to your current field (business/industry)
* Hire a professional to help you unstick yourself (career coach, business coach, life coach, therapist, guru, accountant…they all count!)
* Embrace the art of visualization. When you are preparing to undertake a new activity it helps to take time out in a quiet place to visualize all of the steps necessary to complete the task. Clearing your mind of all interfering noise and thoughts to best focus on the task at hand is a tremendously self-empowering strategy. It’s a technique that world-class athletes, artists, and performers all utilize to achieve great performances. You can (and should) too!
* Revisit the assumptions you’ve made about what you can and cannot accomplish. All the negative things we say to ourselves about ourselves add up over time so that we immobilize ourselves with self doubt. It’s such a prevalent behavior of the human condition, that psychologists have a name for it. It’s called “Head trash.” What’s yours, and how are you going to overcome that?
* Approach the challenges that you face not as business people but as artists, performers, musicians do…utilizing creative problem solving strategies. Need help getting started? Check out INSEAD, business school to the world for inspiration!
* Read Jim Collins book “Good to Great!” In it, Collins makes the point that in today’s rapidly changing global environment, being good is no longer GOOD ENOUGH. According to Collins, good is the ENEMY of Great! Truer words have never been spoken. If we accept that we are performing at a high enough level, we never push ourselves to risk achieving the supposedly unachievable. The value to be gained by failing at a great pursuit is a lofty goal indeed.
So, there you have it. A list of immediately actionable strategies you can begin implementing tomorrow to unstick yourself and achieve all your wildest personal and professional goals.
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach
We cannot be creative and achieve significant transformation without embracing change.
Humans are creatures of habit. We search for and embrace the familiar. It is critical that we derive meaning and order from our lives. Why else would we sit in the same seats in school, take the same path to work each and every day, buy the same brands when so many options face us
“Change is the only constant.” Heraclitus, Greek philosopher
However, we evolved/adapted as a species because it is literally embedded in our DNA. Nature demands that we change. Nature gravitates toward perpetual disorder. In science the term for a gradual decline into disorder is called “entropy.”
“Change and conflict are the only real constants.” David Packard, HP Co-founder.
We are MOST successful when we embrace chaos and pursue change. Darwin wrote of this as survival of the fittest. Humans therefore straddle two worlds, one in which we demand order and the other in which we thrive on change. It is in our best interest that we aggressively pursue the unfamiliar. Humans are a direct result/product of the ability to evolve and adapt. Because people avoid uncertainty/ unpredictability we DEMAND new stimulus (disconfirming forces) to break our equilibrium.
In the IBM business culture of the 1950s, it was the goal of American workers to find and keep gainful employment with the goal of remaining in one single organization until they retired. doesn’t this sound almost “quaint” given the average American will change jobs 10 times by the time they reach 35 years of age these days. Today’s job search requires a one to two year search to perhaps land a temporary contract gig of a few months. This has become our “NEW normal.”
A critical question that affects each and every one of us is: “What is the future of human adaptation?” How will YOU adapt in your career, your business, your life? Our species achieves truly amazing things when we set out to willingly and aggressively embrace change. Consider: we are close to solving the human gene sequencing project, and have achieved tremendous advancements in the areas of artificial intelligence, advances in technology, super-computing, mapping the human brain and neural networks, and robotics. We have explored space and the human brain.
Business transformation is an extremely hot topic these days, given the unrelenting pressure business leaders face from intense global competition, rapidly evolving technologies, the pervasive 24-7-365 Internet and 24-hour news cycle. The ubiquity of social media with its concurrent global trend towards user-generated content as a means of counter-balancing (usurping???) the power of the media as the Fourth Estate affects each and every organization’s to build and maintain compelling brands.
Change is our NEW NORMAL given constantly changing regulatory landscapes, nations being torn apart by internal strife between ruling classes, religions, social classes and a constant shifting in lowest cost labor markets, as industry seeks out the cheapest talent pools of highly educated and well-trained contract-based workers. How businesses and business owners adapt dictate how successful their organizations are…and ARE NOT. Global multinational corporations once deemed too big to fail are doing so with much greater frequency (Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, Borders, Circuit City, etc.)
We all have a fearful, almost pathological fear of change. To help others to implement change, you as a leader must first help others to manage their fear of change before you can implement change. Kurt Lewin studied the human behavior of change avoidance back in the 1950s. “For any type of social management, it is of great practical importance that levels of quasi-stationary equilibria can be changed in two ways: by adding forces in the desired direction, or by diminishing opposing forces.” – Kurt Lewin in “Human Relations in Curriculum Change.” Sourced from www.crossroad.to/Quotes/brainwashing/kurt-lewin-change.htm
John Kotter developed an EIGHT step process for business owners, leaders, and professionals that are tasked with implementing change within their organizations. Two researchers (W. Warner Burke and George Litwin) developed a critically important change model that you as a business owner/leader can follow for understanding how to implement change within your organization.
Check out this fascinating article on the overwhelming task that Louis Gerstner faced in changing the culture at IBM in the early 1990s from computer maker to global consulting firm. Here’s a brief video of Lou Gerstner being interviewed on the same topic.
So what will it be? Run from change as a Pavlovian response to uncertainty or accept it as a given and embrace it as a means of achieving true lasting competitive advantage. Failure to act is a guaranteed recipe for disaster.
Here’s to your continued success as we head into the holidays and plan for a GREAT 2013!
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach