When we face a problem of change or a serious failure, usually the first thing we face is our emotions. In my work with Fortune 100 organizations and C-Suite executives around the world, I have found that we can translate these initial emotions into what I came up with, five signal emotions of change: fear, anxiety, frustration, anger, and grief.
Emotions travel faster than you think. In fact, social psychology teaches us that the emotional response to a given stimulus for milliseconds is faster than the cognitive (thinking) response. These lightning reactions, which bypass the rational center of the brain, stem from an innate reaction to survival that we inherited from our earliest ancestors.
These emotions are real, natural and effective. The question is, how can we use the power of emotions – this precious legacy of our species – to become more effective leaders in the face of change and serious status quo violations?
In the incredible year of 2020, the year I lovingly call the “show,” I had to practice what I preach more than ever before. In March, my work calendar was, in a word, destroyed. Each presentation and personal seminar was canceled or postponed. All inquiries and witnesses have dried up.
I got lost. I was worried. I felt like I was back in first place in my entrepreneurial pursuits, but now without a full-time corporate position as a safety net. I was in the dark as to how I was going to continue to build my firm that fostered growth through destruction. I wanted no light, stay on the couch or in bed, drink Netflix, drink to eatand drift in and out of consciousness in the inner sea of these really heavy emotions.
As leaders and coaches, we experience emotions of change, emotions that can make us not get out of bed in the morning, but these feelings do not absolve us of our responsibility to lead our teams and organizations through change and ensure they are trained to ensure their success. You may have experienced something similar last year after going through major steps to ensure that your organization can continue its training and development initiatives, with many of your employees probably working remotely.
How do we prove to be effective leaders during change? How do we continue to influence and inspire our teams, peers and students during significant disruptions such as the global pandemic?
You can practice three steps that include a growth thinking I came up with Change Enthusiasm®. I have shared this with thousands, in dozens of industries around the world, enabling self-realization and sustainable growth through change. This is the same thinking I practiced during 2020, which now claims the title of my greatest teacher.
Step 1: Recognize your changes Signal
Changes have always evoked emotions, ever since our early ancestors, while gathering supplies in the woods, were suddenly overwhelmed by the fear of rustling in the bushes. They felt fear, and that feeling meant a moment of opportunity: either to be engulfed by a predator, or to come up with a way to escape. Emotions of change give us today such an opportunity – the opportunity to grow and develop.
This step is to believe and believe in the moment of opportunity. It was trust that allowed me to push my conscious thoughts away from those that fueled anxiety and despair. My conscious thoughts began to shift to Fr. knowing that having these signal emotions meant it was time for my business and for me to grow.
Once you have perceived your emotions as this signal and believed that you are in a moment of opportunity, you are ready to move on to the second stage of this practice.
Step 2: See the changes as Opportunity
That’s where real work comes in. Believing that you are in that moment of opportunity, create a list of options that you can explore to begin a step toward what I call the emotions of change that support growth: anticipation, joy, hope, gratitude, and excitement.
When I lay on the couch last spring, devastated and almost regretting that my corporate career and stable salary were not over, I saw several options: I could either hang up my business hat, admit defeat and start looking for a full-time job , or I could reinvest myself and my business with laser focus and passion. Given the depth of the signal emotions I felt about my business and livelihood, I moved on to this second step of the practice: believing that a great opportunity had opened up.
“Opportunity” is defined as a good chance or opportunity for advancement or progress. As I further explored the option of reinvesting in my business, I began to see in my mind so many opportunities for progress:
- Accepting what the business needs to change will help me go ahead of my competitors.
- Business can change so that I can serve my customers better and more holistically than before.
- I could learn about building high quality virtual connections using the power of technology.
- I could develop my global footprint further and faster by serving customers virtually.
The list could go on and on, far exceeding the list I compiled according to the opportunity to take up another full-time corporate position. In seeing and believing in opportunityall that was left to do in the process of cultivation was to take the last step in this practice: to choose one’s “best.”
Step 3: Consciously Choose Your better
The final step of this practice puts you in a place of choice, empowered to manage and own the way you experience change and disruption. Inspired by the opportunity, I slowly got off the couch and returned to the home office. Inspired by the opportunity, I began to transform the energy of fear into the energy of hope. Inspired by the tremendous opportunities ahead, I began to transform the energy of anxiety and frustration into the energy of anticipation and excitement. And that energy fed me. It lit a fire in my stomach and my firm inspired in 2020 more people than I could have expected.
The emotions of change are real and indisputable. Although sometimes challenging, they are our precious heritage, serving as a signal and invitation to our greatest opportunities for growth. I know how difficult it can be to experience change and subsequent signal emotions. In 2020, I had more gloomy moments than I can imagine. But thanks to the practice of Change Enthusiasm®, the shift of 2020 has contributed to the exponential growth of both my business and me as a leader, author and leader.
It is imperative to use the power of emotions, an endless resource to stimulate learning and growth through failure. When we recognize our emotional energy and turn it into fuel, we inspire the growth of ourselves, our teams, our organizations and our colleagues through every challenge of change.
You can do the same with Change Enthusiasm® Growth Thinking Practices:
- Accept emotion as a signal.
- Trust me opportunityand explore options to achieve a better feeling.
- Make conscious, productive choice to a better feeling and a better result.
This process is a practice. These steps are not the steps you take once to be thrilled with every change you encounter along the way. Only through practice can we realize the promise of Change Enthusiasm®. Through this daily practice, in spite of every emotion you feel, you will participate in the growth cycle:
- Believe that big changes and disruptions are happening for you, no office
- Build your muscle elasticity.
- Increase emotionality self-awareness.
- Become a more effective leader.
- Using the power of emotions to inspire growth and evolution for the better.
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