Why are some people more open to change and others instinctively resistant to anything that significantly alters the status quo?
The key is often in an individual’s or a team's basic attitude toward change and the type of change that is presented or faced.
I have had different response styles and behaviours to the changes in my life. I tend to leap forward, eager, energetic and motivated to change when it presents itself as an obvious reward, a gift, a win, a thrill, an adrenaline rush. At times when undecided, I hang back, maybe procrastinate, do a ‘wait and see’ when the change is strange, intimidating and unwelcoming; other times I may decisively take the lead of those I trust when confronted by unexpected change that is totally unfamiliar, aggressive and threatening. And of course multiple times, I have simply resisted change, shut down, been in denial and mostly lived to regret that I stayed put while change moved everything else around me forward.
Natural human reactions show up when we are contemplating and dealing with something new i.e. change. We call this edge behaviours. Examples of edge behaviours are procrastination, making jokes, nervous laughter, talking too much, being argumentative, silence, disconnection, drawing blanks, fiddling and fidgeting. The more challenging the situation or event, the harder that edge will be to cross and the more intense the display of edge behaviours.
In any change management (whatever the scale) process, we are crossing from “what we know” to “what is unknown”. In between this crossing is the edge; the space we have to cross, no matter how small, to realise the unknown.
Anytime we try a new behaviour like speaking up in groups, volunteer to lead or have a new idea or perspective, such as attempting a marathon, accepting a new boss or stepping up to a new role; whether the change is intentional or unintentional, we are crossing the edge of what we presently know and identify with.
The edge is the space where we do the ‘work’ as we dive into change. It is crucial and can be frustrating at the same time. For me, personally, the edge experience is where the most valuable lessons are. Edges are a part of the process of life. Our action and our inaction in crossing edges reveal key information about ourselves. Being able to navigate the waters of change by consciously crossing edges is a vital life skill.
“Edges are challenges of awareness, not necessarily of ability.”
Here are some quick tips on Crossing Edges i.e. Managing change in your personal life or your organisation:
1. Envision what it is like on the other side of the edge. Imagine what awaits you and is possible there.
Intention: Create positivity through imagining what the future holds.
2. Do not overwhelm yourself. Attempt the entire edge gradually. Organise them into smaller edges to cross over time.
Intention: Make goals achievable.
3. Take 'baby steps’ - Make the distance between crossings smaller so the change is minor and ‘win-able’.
Intention: Build on small wins to gain confidence and comfort.
4. Cheer and encourage with a focus on strengths and abilities.
Intention: Make the crossing easy with positive support.