Navigating Changes Remaining Who You Are

We usually like the safety of the known, much more than the uncertainty of the unknown. When we think about change we do it in terms of loss, more than the opportunity to obtain new and positive things that change can bring us.

But life usually makes us face changes continuously and we need to be ready for it. Even many of us try to keep far away along our lives but, at the end in the long term we have to face those challenges.

Not everybody has aversion to changes and we can find in our organizations many people waiting for the leaders’ initiatives for changing. I remember very well when I was managing one of the leaders in Spain in chemicals for industry professionals and construction. I could put more than one example. The company had tried several times to change the ERP system with several fails. At that time, we prepared together with the Information System Team in our HQ a very well planned process of change. I knew we were ambitious for that kind of culture but we were very sure we could achieve our goal. However, the culture was so strong and employees living in their comfort zone made impossible to implement the changes planned.

How many reasons hidden behind it?

Only the employees that had joined the company recently were excited about the possible changes promised, even if uncertain of their own job status.

There are different conceptions about how people embrace change. Tal Ben Sahar, author and lecturer, expert in Positive Psychology, says that human being base thoughts in beliefs and expectations. They create the necessary motivation to embrace changes. Sometimes there is not enough consistency between our beliefs and the reality. Our mind does not like when there is an inconsistency between our internal thoughts and the external reality.

When this consistency exists it makes our performance excellent. We listen, we are curious, we are open to new ideas and changes and we are collaborative.

But in case that consistency is lost we try to recover it. I.e. If we consider someone is not nice but we see them behaving nicely, we can change our mind. This is called “updating our mind”. This change doesn’t happen very often. We have a second option called “discard information”. Sometimes, although we can see something different as we believed, we ignore it. A third option is called “seek confirming evidence”. We try with this last one to find all the information necessary that proves what we believe and we will dismiss or discard all that could help to update our mind.

We often fall into the trap of discarding, ignoring, or actively seeking confirming evidence. But we have yet a last option which is creating a new reality. Reality comprises both, objective (what is out there) and subjective (our own interpretation). Our interpretation it is very important in how we perceive and interpret the world.

It will depend on our beliefs how we embrace change. If we have positive beliefs or if we belief things will not turn out well, our performance will be very different.

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