Resistance to change shows up in many different ways. Many want to know the steps it’s going to take, the path we should expect, the guarantees of success.
It’s often when we’re the most nervous, impatient, or feel like we have the most to lose that we want to flip to the end of the book or the last few minutes of the movie, and skip the muddling middle to know with certainty, was everything “ok”, did things go as planned, did this work. Tell me now.
We’ll do the “tough thing” if we’re sure it will go alright, we’ll say how we feel if we know the person will respond well, we’ll… you get the point.
But we know, life is hardly this certain and stable, this linear, and this accepting of our desire to control.
If we look back at our most important experiences, and look to favorite stories or improv scenes, they are the ones highlighted by change.
The best improvisers, and often some of our best leaders look for opportunities to be changed every day and in every interaction. They find a few pillars to keep them stable (read: values, principles), but also find comfort in the certainty of knowing that change is constant. And, by being open to it themselves they allow space for others to enter the scene or the story, and for that change to trickle, to transform a person, a group, a company.
In times of transition or when something is new (read: uncertain), the default is often to hold on tighter.
When we transition to a managerial role we have to learn to let go of much of the work of the past to make room for others to learn. The easier choice is to retreat back to the familiar for the quick fix and hit of certainty and safety.
We can also choose to let go of our status, or our desire for someone else to change instead. Because, deep down we know that other person has their own story to tell and uncover.
The truth is control narrows our focus and could keep us and those we lead from greater adventures, bigger stories, and profound and lasting change.
Because learning and change are synonymous, this letting go of old habits, frames, and ways of working are what deep, transformational learning looks and feels like. Change is rarely about taking on more – we can instead view it as letting go of what we no longer need.
Letting yourself be changed doesn’t mean letting go of caring about what the change produces or who it affects. It just means not being afraid of the blank page and the story that has yet to be told.