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Change is natural and neutral – our thinking makes it good or bad

Depending on your experience, you may be aware of the term ‘change fatigue’. Research show that up to 70% of organisational transformation efforts fail, leading to apathy and resistance. It’s easy to become cynical, leading to assumptions that any change is ‘bad’.   

Cynicism and apathy can creep into any team or organisation where there is an imbalance of power, and where changes happen without the leaders listening deeply to the views of others or without seeking collaborative agreement – thinking they know best. No organisational change programme can cover up or paint over the cracks created by distrust and inconsistencies in management and leadership. It might put off the day of reckoning but that’s all.

You can see this happening in schools and families as well as businesses. Adults and leaders assume they understand the challenges being faced by those in their care. They make assumptions and judgements, and look to use superior intellectual capacity to tell people what they need to do. Beliefs and actions rooted in ‘arrogant’ personal thinking.

The more we believe our personal thinking is true the more we risk being cut off from our wisdom, intuition and clarity. It’s so easy from this position to get backed into a corner, your ego fighting to defend its illusory sense of self – think Donald Trump right now. It seems that just about everyone else can see what you can’t, that you are caught up in a storm of your own thinking.

It really helpful to see that there is only one causal factor in determining a person’s behaviour and therefore their performance – their personal thinking. Whether I’m a leader or a follower, an adult or a young person, I can just as easily get caught up in believing my thinking is true and from this position, I build a house made of cards, based on false assumptions, unrealistic expectations and unfair judgements of others.

It makes sense in times of significant change to listen deeply, carefully and courageously to each other and to find new and creative ways to connect and collaborate for the common purpose.  This supports an agile business model, requiring us just to know the next step to take, without needing to know the final destination and all the steps in between. That is brave and conscious leadership.

For a team to be truly agile, every member must be able to recognise the difference in feeling and energy that comes from listening with clarity and compassion, as opposed to the feelings coming from ego thinking. We can call ‘time out’ when the positive feelings are lost. Organisations can easily and inadvertently create a sense of fear and mistrust about change when they fail to put people at the centre of everything that they do.

Not being afraid of our experience and knowing that we will be OK no matter what happens, means we can rely on wisdom, intuition and clarity emerging when we need it to.

Change is a natural, neutral and continuous organic process. It is only our personal thinking that makes a judgement on whether it appears either negative or positive.

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