Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to lead several large-scale organizational changes. It’s hard. Let’s be honest. With the exception of a few change-oriented people that most of us don’t understand, we tend to be inclined toward inertia not progress.
If you’re old enough, you might remember the Stuart Smalley SNL skits “Daily Affirmations.” Smalley would go on and on reassuring himself that he was good enough, smart enough and gosh darn it people liked him. The comic irony was we all mocked him. And that was the way it was supposed to be.
The silliness of those saccharine sweet platitudes aside, thinking about it makes me wonder how we should approach life in general and change in particular.
This won’t work. I’ve tried that a million times. I’m just not wired that way. It’s too big, hard or complicated. The reasons we manufacture for predetermined failure sound eerily common whether you’re trying to change a company, reorient a team, or conquer your life.
Change management experts tell us that changing culture is as important, if not more so, than changing behavior. If you only focus on behavior your life, like an unwound coil, will spring back to its original shape when the pressure is removed.
If you’re working on your life, your culture change is your attitude adjustment. I wrote an article for work this week called the “can-do culture.” It argues that if we approach complex problems with the belief that it’s possible to either solve them or significantly improve them, than the likelihood of success improves by several orders of magnitude.
It’s no different in our outside-of-work lives. Being agile means breaking the big into the small, prioritizing the important, celebrating the progress you’ve made and accepting course corrections as reality not defeats.
Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the size, complexity, or your past experiences. Whatever you’re trying to do, break it down into bite-sized chunks, take a stab at prioritizing (that will change as you learn and go), take a bite, and celebrate the progress!