When the change first happened, you felt like you were tossed into the middle of the ocean. Now, after constant struggles, you realize that you have made considerable progress. Finally, you have reached the life buoy. You experience slight exhilaration! Exhausted, you gaze at the faces of those who help you cling to the buoy and pull you towards safety. You have gained some power over your change.
In the last article, “Leaders: What Will You Have to Rise Above?” I shared the most significant characteristics of the third of the nine stages of change, “rise above.” In this article, I introduce the fourth stage, “manage,” to help you determine whether you are on this stage of the change process and to provide techniques to create forward movement towards mastery.
Keep Things Moving
You have resumed some of your previous activities. Things are finally getting done. You are ready to start asking for and accepting some support. Finally, you begin to experience a feeling of a return to safety and the ability to influence your change. You believe you have the capacity to move forward and are less discouraged by minor setbacks. But even though you have started to feel optimistic, some hesitations may hold you captive. Even now, you lack sufficient strength and energy to do what needs to be done alone.
What to Expect
Although it might seem barely recognizable, you have made substantial progress. Mentally, you are no longer wandering around a maze, enveloped in fog. Instead, you have the desire and motivation, along with more clarity, to get things done. Your focus has shifted from what you cannot control to what you can influence. You believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel despite a wall of unanswered questions. Yes, uncertainty and fear may be your new neighbors. Don’t be surprised when they come to visit. Just limit how long they stay.
As you begin to recognize the extent of financial challenges, you may experience some sorrow over deferred goals and dreams. Be careful that your increasing energy does not tempt you to juggle too many balls to make up for lost time. At this stage, the result could be physical exhaustion, which could breed seeds of despair.
Although you are involved in many activities, you do not want to forget two essential actions that will enhance your ability to master the “manage” stage. To create forward movement toward your professional goals, you must empower your thoughts and fortify your resources.
Empower Your Thoughts
Your thoughts are the key to successfully navigating through changing careers, restructuring your business, uplifting your teams, shifting priorities or achieving specific outcomes. Leaders resist the urge to focus on what is no longer available, where you think you should be or how others might have impacted your professional goals. Instead, prepare with possibilities (not problems) in mind, focus on how you can reduce undesired side effects and celebrate what you have accomplished.
Fortify Your Resources
I remember how hard it was for me to ask for help. I was not sure if my need to make the request or fear of rejection caused my throat to constrict. I felt exposed and vulnerable, and I frequently felt like a failure. Sometimes when we realize we need help, we may shrink back from making the request. We might become paralyzed by what we think others’ perception of us will be. We could feel disappointed that we let others and ourselves down. Have you ever needed help but could not bring yourself to ask for it?
At times, the key element that could separate us from achieving or making progress in our professional goals is our inability to ask for help. I have found the following steps helpful in making difficult requests. Create a list of the areas in which you need assistance. Next to each area, write down the reasons you have not requested help. Select one area in which you can challenge yourself to ask for help. Always make sure you have a clear objective. Next, reflect on how you could design the most supportive environment for the conversation, including allowing time before and after to prepare and process the outcome. If possible, role-play the conversation with someone you trust. Then, connect with the person and make the request. After the discussion, regardless of the outcome, celebrate your courage and determination to achieve your goals.
The next article will introduce the fifth stage of the “Nine Aspects of Change,” “evolve.”
Donna Johnson-Klonsky, MBA, PCC
DJ Consulting Services Inc.
East Fishkill, New York 12533