American Express Open: Question 3

How do you manage change? is the latest question for the Open from American Express online conference.

I like this question because it is important, but it is also wide open. It ranks right up there with "why is there something instead of nothing?" (Don't answer that) I know a lot about change. Three years ago at this time I was designing computer chips to process graphics on helicopters. Since then I've started a blog, started a business, sold my stake in a business, moved 1000 miles, sold a house, taught some college courses, dabbled with consulting work, learned some new programming languages, and tried to figure out what I want to do with my life. Lots of things have changed. Why do I bring this up? Because managing change in your business is similar to managing change in your life.

There are two types of change, negative and positive. Let's discuss negative first, and we will address positive later.

Change makes us comfortable because we are scared of where we will end up. I assume that most of you reading this are goal-oriented. You like to see change that moves you toward your goals, not away from them. So what do you do when you encounter change that seems to be moving you down away from your desired path?

The first thing I always do when change comes is to reframe it. I ask "how bad can it really be?" I always tell my self that if it comes down to it, I can drop everything, move to Key West, and work in a bar. I mean seriously, at least I don't live in a disease ridden, poverty stricken African city. It sounds cheesy but I'm serious, it is important to keep all of this in the proper context. All of us really have it pretty good compared to worldwide and historical standards of living.

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Secondly, you should roll with it a bit. See where it is going. Maybe there are ways to embrace and let it take you someplace better than where you were going anyway. Have you ever gone to a movie theater with plans to see one movie, seen some friends that were going to a different movie, decided to go with them instead, and later found out the movie you intended to see really stunk? Sometimes change is like that. It can take you somewhere better.

Third, fortify your situation. If the change is negative and you know it isn't taking you somewhere good, shore up whatever you can. Trim the fat, strengthen your reserves, and work a little bit harder. Prepare yourself to make it through the tough times.

Finally, keep your chin up. I'm amazed at how much attitude plays a part in success. The people that make it through tough changes are the people that think they will make it through. Have confidence in yourself. Look at what you have done. You run a small business, that's tough. Most people couldn't do it. Be proud of yourself and believe in your ability to get through this tough time.

How do you manage negative change? Leave me a comment and let me know.

Be sure to check out Dane's links to information on change.

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