Powerful Practices to Help You Adapt to Change: Part 2

It’s clear that a strong ability to adapt to unexpected change is a must for every individual and organization. We’ve found four powerful practices that can help people as well as companies become more change-adaptive. I wrote about the first two practices—Mindfulness and Curiosity—in my last blog post. Today, I’ll cover the third and fourth: Courage and Resilience.

The Third Powerful Practice: Courage

When faced with monumental change, responding with courage doesn’t mean you will instantly feel confident and in control of what’s happening. You probably won’t say, “I’m just going to power through this change even though I don’t have a clue about what’s going on.” No, this kind of courage is about having the strength to speak up for yourself in the face of uncertainty.

It requires courage to speak up and share your ideas and concerns about a proposed change. It also takes courage to be open to others’ perspectives and rationale for change. People who are courageous stand up for themselves and take action that helps them feel more optimistic, more included, and less victimized by change.

Consider speaking up:

  • If you believe you know things the change leaders don’t know
  • If you are aware of obstacles that could derail the change
  • If you think your ideas might make the change better
  • If you have experience or expertise to share

Don’t forget that you also demonstrate courage when you ask for what you need. Everyone needs some support during a change—and asking for support, reassurance, or mentoring takes courage. Take a moment to pause and reflect: “What do I need to be able to adapt to this change?” “Who should I ask to help me?” and “How should I go about asking for support?” 

Thinking of yourself as courageous can give you options and energy to act, not just react. It can help you feel as if the change is happening with you, not to you. And that’s a great position of strength.

The Fourth Powerful Practice: Resilience

If 2020 didn’t teach us resilience, nothing will! People who are resilient in the face of change are able to handle some discomfort and to demonstrate resolve in seeing things through. Change-adaptive people who are resilient are confident in their ability to adapt to change. They are able to bounce back and stay the course. They believe when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

People with resilience know their strengths and they lean on those things. When you’re experiencing a change, remind yourself of the ways you are really strong. What do you bring to the table? Now look at the people around you. What do you know about their strengths that you can remind them of?

Resilient people typically focus their energy on what they can control and let go of what they can’t control. For example, I don’t watch the news very often. I keep up enough to stay informed, but most of it focuses on things I don’t have any control over. I am more resilient when I can stay focused on things I can control.

Finally, don’t forget the famous phrase: This too shall pass. Time goes by and softens the hard times we go through. Before we know it, months or years have passed and when we look back, that problem is over, we figured out a way to solve it, or maybe we just got through it together.

So choose to be a change-adaptive person who practices mindfulness, demonstrates curiosity, speaks up with courage, and follows through with resilience.

  • Mindfulness: Acknowledge and regulate your emotions.
  • Curiosity: Seek information and look for opportunities to help you move toward the change.
  • Courage: Share your concerns, contribute your ideas, and ask for the support you need.
  • Resilience: Acknowledge your strengths and focus your energy on things you can control.

Change is a fact of life. The more change-adaptive we are in these four areas, the better we will be able to deal with each change that comes our way.

Memorial Day Remembrances

This past Monday was Memorial Day—a federal holiday in the United States designed for remembering and honoring those who have died in the service of our country.

Memorial Day weekend was always an important time of remembrance for my father, who served in the U.S. Navy. During World War II he led a group of twelve Landing Craft Infantry ships (LCI) in an assault on the Marshall Islands. The LCI’s job was to protect the Marines and the Frogmen (now Seals) during major battles. Tragically, 70 percent of my father’s men were killed or wounded during the assault.

My father retired as a Navy Admiral. He and my mother are buried side by side in Washington, D.C. at Arlington Cemetery—a beautiful place of rest that honors our heroes and their families.

Last year my wife, Margie, and I went on a three-day tour of Normandy, France, with the folks from The National World War II Museum. Normandy is the site of a battle that was the turning point in Europe during World War II. What an emotional experience it was to visit the American Cemetery and Memorial, where more than 10,000 U.S. servicemen who perished in the battle are buried or memorialized. I wish every American could visit Normandy to witness the truth of the phrase “Freedom is not free.”

I hope you can schedule some quiet time this week to reflect on those who gave everything for our freedom. Teach your children and grandchildren the meaning of Memorial Day—and move forward with kindness as you interact with others.

God bless America!

Ken

Vulnerability in Leadership: a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

Every day, one of my friends sends me a quote from a little book called Live and Learn and Pass It On, edited by H. Jackson Brown. Here is one I particularly enjoy:

“I’ve learned that everything I truly value has been gained by vulnerability on my part. It is the secret to life.”  (Anonymous, age 21)

The reason I love this quote is because it reminds me of the work of Brené Brown, who describes herself as a researcher and storyteller. Brené spoke at our client conference last fall and was one of the first people to study and write about the power of vulnerability.

As a leader, you might think that if you admit to your people you don’t know how to solve every problem, they will see you as weak. Quite the contrary. When you show your vulnerabilities, rather than thinking less of you, people will think more of you. Why? Because they already know you don’t know everything!

Colleen Barrett, president emeritus of Southwest Airlines and my coauthor on the book Lead with LUV*, has been known to say, “People admire your skills, but they love your vulnerability.” When you are willing to acknowledge that you don’t have it all together, your people—including customers and family members—know they might have a chance to play a part and make a contribution.

Brené Brown says being vulnerable requires courage as well as humility. Most people who aren’t willing to show their vulnerability don’t want to admit they are scared little kids inside. Being humble is not the same as lacking confidence. I have always said “People with humility don’t think less of themselves; they just think about themselves less.”

So, have a vulnerable, courageous, and humble day. Isn’t it great to know you don’t need to have all the answers to be admired by others?

 

*LUV is the stock symbol for Southwest Airlines.

Humility, Courage, and Vulnerability

People have studied the character traits of great leaders for years, and I believe humility is one of the most important qualities of a successful leader. I’ve always described humility in leaders like this—people with humility don’t think less of themselves, they just think of themselves less. They put others first.

I recently spent some time talking with Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly and Rising Strong. She also has one of the most popular TED talk videos on vulnerability that has been viewed by more than 25 million people. Brené researches and writes about courage and vulnerability. She explains that leaders need to be courageous and take chances that allow them to make a difference, but they also need to be vulnerable because they will make mistakes along the way. When leaders admit to those mistakes and ask for help, relationships grow stronger and more respectful.

Being humble, courageous and vulnerable just means being yourself—and keeping it real. If you need help, ask for it. If you make a mistake, admit it. That doesn’t seem so hard does it? Give it a try and see how your relationships improve.