The past year of my life has been one of the most significant when it comes to change in my entire existence. I have consciously taken on a significant transformation both personally and professionally; as Dr. John Izzo would say, I am a “change agent”. I kind of like it! I’m going to take it as a superhero badge of honour. I once thought I was brave, now that I’m into a life of continual improvement aka change, I no longer consider that aspect brave. However, taking the actions that I am on a daily basis to move toward my BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals), I consider brave. As such, I have naturally been studying and gaining a better understanding of it; how to manage it, coach it, and even proactively make change on my own.
Before we get too far down the path on change, you may be asking why are we talking about change again?? It’s a critical component in evolution, and all leaders embrace it and master it. Charles Darwin taught us: “It’s not the strongest of species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
So let’s dive into this just a bit more. I will preface all of my subsequent discussion with the caveat that I am not a PhD philosopher, nor am I a formally trained change expert, however I have been studying it for a number of years now and have actively been practicing my learnings and models everyday.
I believe that growth occurs in that place where we’ve never been, aka outside of your comfort zone.
I further believe that there is one of two ways to move into this place in which growth occurs.
1. An external force pushes us into it. If you think about the changes that you’ve undertaken in the past year, how did you get to that uncomfortable place? Was it a result of an exterior force? Did your doctor tell you that you needed to lose some weight? Did you company just get bought out? Or worse yet, did you experience a health event that pushed you into that place where change was forced upon you?
2. We purposely move ourselves into it. Did you get to that place that you’ve never been, by yourself? Were you brave and announced to the world a goal that you wanted to accomplish and “put yourself out there” to force yourself to change? Brene Brown has taught us about the power of vulnerability. She defines vulnerability as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. She has studied the power of vulnerability for years, and will leave the in-depth discussion to the experts. However, I will leave you with the relevant summation quote from Brene; “vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity, innovation, and change.”
Inspiring leaders are masters of change (growth). They have taken the responsibility of controlling (as much as they can) their own evolution and growth. In June 2014 Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, opened up the vault to the electric car company’s patents and released them to the world.
At first glance, many business owners would ask “why would you give up your patents?? That’s your competitive edge! That’s your insurance!” If staying with projections, Tesla will produce over 500,000 electric cars by 2020, while this ‘leak’ of patents could potentially facilitate the expansion of battery charging infrastructure, support these large numbers of sales, and ultimately create future customers for Tesla. Recognizing that external forces of change around carbon emissions are pushing car companies’ more and more, Musk took the Inspiring Leaders route to design his own path of evolution and purposely move into the place where change and growth occurs.
How are growing? What’s your plan to evolve and thrive?
Part 2 – How the master’s of change hone their craft.