It’s here, right now. Do you resist or embrace it? That’s the big question. We’re hearing many people … neighbors, kids, friends, business owners, leaders and public officials, saying, “I can’t wait to get back to normal. I’m finished with COVID!”
What’s normal? Certainly not what was normal eight months ago. We don’t believe today’s routine will be the new normal 12 months from now. Normal is anything but normal except for change. Change is the new normal. In addressing the COVID crisis, Gen. Stan McChrystal, in one of his recent leadership seminars, stated a crisis is high-stakes change at an accelerated speed, and to survive, embrace the change.
It’s here, right now, and the big question is whether you resist or embrace it? If you fight it, your business struggles and may never regain the momentum to survive. But, if you grasp it, your business has a real chance of persisting through the crisis and thriving in the new normal!
There is a simple mathematical model we use with business owners to talk them through how to embrace change: (D x V) + F > R. Your level of dissatisfaction, D, multiplied by the depth of your vision, V, plus taking the first steps, F, has to be greater than your resistance to change, R. It’s an elementary equation, but exponential in concept. Dissatisfaction and vision are multiples of each other because to overcome resistance to change, you have to be deeply dissatisfied with where you are now, and you have to have a clear vision of how things would be if you eliminate the dissatisfying factors.
Here’s an example many of us can identify with, especially with New Year’s resolutions in play. I have and continue to wrestle with weight. It certainly has been a struggle of mine, and I’ve dieted several times over the decades. I love to eat, and in the past, there wasn’t a mealtime, whether breakfast, lunch, or dinner, I would miss. I acknowledged and recognized weight control at its core is calories in and calories out. The more calories I consumed and the fewer calories I burned, my weight increased, and conversely, the fewer calories I consumed and the more calories I burned, my weight decreased. It’s such a simple, rational equation, but it was just so hard for me to consume less and burn more calories.
I resisted changing my diet or increasing my exercise regimen, even though I knew I would benefit emotionally, psychologically and physically if I were to embrace those changes. I kept thinking I would lose weight if I tweaked some of my habits. But, as Albert Einstein said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. You see, I had to be dissatisfied with how I felt and looked, have a clear vision of the positive impact diet and daily exercise would make in my life, and then be willing to take the first step to eat and exercise differently before I embraced the change. That’s it in a nutshell!
Valid for business
This same dynamic is valid with business owners. They often describe their dissatisfaction with their current state of affairs: I don’t have enough of the right customers, my team lacks training, my marketing doesn’t generate leads, my website is outdated, I struggle to close the deal, my business systems are obsolete, I work too many hours, I never seem to get ahead, I feel overwhelmed, I never thought running a business would be so hard. COVID-19 has only exacerbated their dissatisfaction. They try to tweak and adapt the prescriptive solutions presented in podcasts, TED Talks, business journals, and seminars instead of embracing change and taking the first steps to overcome their resistance.
If this sounds like you, then undoubtedly you have a high level of discontent, but ask yourself, do you have a clear vision of how things would be if you eliminated those factors that dissatisfy you? What we find is likely not. This is where business owners get stuck. They continue to do the same things over and over, maybe nipping things here or there, expecting different results. In other words, insanity! Their struggle embracing change is because they lack vision and are uncertain what next steps to take.
In light of the pandemic, more than ever, work on your personal and business vision. Reflect on your purpose and “why” you’re in business. Thread your “why,” purpose, and vision through your company’s commitment statements, meaning points of culture, mission and annual business goals. This is fundamental to leadership and best business practices.
Once you clarify your vision, the first step, and all the steps to follow will reveal themselves. Don’t resist change. Embrace it because, in these days of uncertainty, change is the one thing that is certain to continue. This is how you lead, think, plan and act your way through a crisis. Now let’s get after it!
Paul A. Raggio is co-owner, with his sister Lisa, of One True North INC Leadership and Business Coaching Solutions.