If You Don't Like Change, Leave it Here

There are only three options to deal with technology change. Embrace it, fight it, or do something else. We all know people who have chosen each of these options. Some roll with the punches and easily learn new ways to perform a task; others fight tooth and nail every time something is slightly different; and the last group includes those who admit it's time to move on and do something else.

Let's face it. Change is difficult to embrace. Our first reaction is to tighten up and reluctantly be dragged through the process. It's the difference between riding a roller coaster with your hands in the air or tightly clenching the bar, teeth gritted, just waiting for it to end.

There are only two good options to deal with change; enjoy the ride or get off as soon as you can. Embrace it or do something else. Easier said than done, I realize. But over the years I have spoken with too many people who have stayed in that middle ground of resisting change, in the end only having the two options anyway.

What if you fall in this middle ground of resisting change? Can you consciously move yourself to one or the other side? Or are you stuck spending months or years fighting change that is inevitable? Consider the following steps to purposefully move yourself in a deliberate way to choose one way or the other.

STEP 1: Is what you are doing in your professional life consistent with where you want to go?

If it is, facing the change head on is probably in your best interest. On the other hand, if there is little connection between where you are now and where you want to be, it should be no surprise that the technology change is so unappealing.

Answering this question might help you determine if it's worth facing what you have to go through to get comfortable with the change.

STEP 2: Once you've decided to deal with the change, identify what element is most difficult for you.

For example, you may feel you're losing control because the new computer system is going to automate a task you currently perform. You may be concerned about losing your status as the expert or the keeper of key information. Or you may feel pressured to produce more. Being able to articulate what challenge you are facing is an important step to begin addressing the change. If the new system replaces a task you already perform, can you contribute in a more meaningful way to the organization? It's up to you to uncover these opportunities, to find new and creative ways to take advantage of the change.

STEP 3: Is your attitude contributing to or taking away from embracing change?

Having taught thousands of people over the years, the biggest determinant for dealing with change is a positive attitude, not your current skills or what you put on a resume. You learn more effectively when you bring a positive attitude to the table. Don't underestimate how a poor attitude can undermine your ability to deal with change. Example of a positive attitudes include: a desire to learn new things, knowing that you don't know everything, sharing information with others, and being someone whom others like being around.

STEP 4: Be an independent thinker.

Gone are the days when your manager will tell you everything you need to know to get your job done. Great managers look for people who know how to follow direction but also think for themselves. There is a fine line between following instructions and being creative in getting things done. Finding that balance is a critical skill to being able to deal with change. Waiting for someone to always tell you what to do is a sure way to fall victim to change.

STEP 5: Remember that learning is a process, not an end result.

From elementary school through college, we're fed the notion that correct answers measure learning. When you enter the workforce, you find that there are often many acceptable answers to a problem, but few actually make the impact you're looking for. People who embrace change treat learning as a process and continually ask good questions. When you take this attitude, learning a new technology can facilitate asking better questions and in turn, makes you a more effective contributor to your organization.

If your goal is to have a satisfying work life, accepting and eventually embracing change is a necessity. Remember as a kid asking your doctor if the shot was going to hurt and his answer was "Yes". Wasn't the anticipation of the pain much worse than the pain itself? It's the same with adjusting to technology change. It may hurt a little but fighting it won't make it any easier. Like our roller coaster example, it comes down to getting on the ride or not. And if you're already in the middle of it, you either put your hands in the air and enjoy the ride or get off at the next opportunity.

If you don't like change, leave it here. By the way, does anyone know who coined this phrase? Let me know.