Siobhán Cahalan | What if…we allowed Change?

“How can change be managed in a way which is beneficial and causes the least pain?”

Change can enter our lives in different ways. We can wish for it. We can make it happen. It can come suddenly. It can be forced upon us. Minor changes may happen frequently and major changes may happen over a longer period of time.

What comes to mind when you think about your life or the life of your organization, when you think about the word change? Does it evoke feelings of excitement and hope? Or exhaustion and dread? Or perhaps a combination of all these. 

Change may be imposed by outside influences. It may also be imposed by ourselves. What are the elements which demand change? Who has control over these elements? How can change be managed in a way which is beneficial and causes the least pain?

The interesting thing about change is that when we are stuck, we have a tendency to prevent others from moving. When we are experiencing a lack of movement, we subconsciously impose that on others. 

In what way do we feel change is inhibited? What is the particular situation? What is the pattern? How does it directly or indirectly impact other people?

In an organization, what brings on change? What is the ‘why’ driving the change? How is the change structured? How is it communicated? How are stakeholders brought smoothly along on the journey while maintaining a sense of stability and growth, instead of chaos and transience?

What are four ways we can allow Change?

We could realize change is needed. We could realize we want change.

We could realize there are options. We could note all options we can think of. 

We could stop clinging to everything. We could let go.

We could take steps to realize a change. We could take action.

Wisdom Tool Number One: Realize it is Needed

As we go along our days and weeks, we may not notice a pattern forming. Or that a pattern has formed. It may be that we do the same things day-in day-out which are not for our good. There are times when we don’t feel our best, yet remain in the same situation. Change may be forced from the outside, and this also requires of us a certain realization that we need to change our lives or something about our lives.

“Sometimes, we remain in the same situation because we don’t know the options.” 

How can we recognize that change is needed? How can we recognize that we simply want change? What are the feelings which percolate leading us to the awareness that change is on the horizon? Do we resist those inklings? Why do we resist them? Are we fearful of rocking the boat? Are we afraid of changing? Are we afraid of disturbing a false calm en route to calming a false life?

Sometimes, we remain in the same situation because we don’t know the options. Because we don’t know that we have options. We may not know options exist. We feel inextricably linked to our situation, and that is it. We are blind. We simply do not know there is another way. 

In an organization, how is the need for change identified? Who identifies it? Is change brought on rashly via a one-person-show with many starts and no finishes? Is the need for change well thought through, rationally, with a number of wise stakeholders? 

Wisdom Tool Number Two: Note all Options

To know what the options are, we may first become aware that there are options. That options exist. The next part of the exercise is to open our mind to think of options. Any options. 

“Having an open mind and allowing it to scan all options is really vital.”

We may have a habit to dismiss options before we have even thought of them. We can be prone to reject ideas and categories of ideas before even thinking about the idea. Why do we filter out options before we have even thought about them? It seems as though we are somehow embarrassed that we would even consider doing such a thing, or having such a thing. And expressing it even to ourselves would be humiliating. Because it doesn’t fit in with our beliefs about who we should be and what we should do. We are encouraged to reflect upon those options which we pre-reject. What if one of the pre-rejected categories is the best solution? What if we keep rejecting it?

Having an open mind and allowing it to scan all options is really vital. Our rational mind may know they are not the ones we will end up doing, but there is something freeing about allowing all options to come into our consciousness. It expands possibilities. It tends to highlight what we do and do not want. It also creates an organic opportunity to benchmark. When we gain an oversight of all possible options, it becomes easier to see where we are right now and to know where we want to be. It is almost comparable to a scale, anchoring us visually to where we are. Knowing where we are on the scale can bring a sense of reality and cohesiveness.

In an organization, what is the process of brainstorming all options. Not all ‘possible’ options, but all options. Options we may deem impossible in line with our personal belief systems may inhibit great ideas being shared. Seeing all the options will give the organization a more expansive vista.

Wisdom Tool Number Three: Let Go

Sometimes when we are within life, it can be difficult to see. Opening our eyes can feel dangerous. We know that once we open our eyes, we will be forced to see and look at things. When we see and look at things, there is no way to forget. We are already on the journey, and the looming danger is change. By seeing, we begin the journey of change. 

“Once we recognize we have been holding on tightly, we can finally begin to let go.”

What we may realize at this stage is that we have been clinging on tightly. To things, people, situations, beliefs. And we didn’t even know. We didn’t know how tightly our grip had become, how tired we feel. Express it in writing, by drawing or speak with a confidante. Once witnessed by a page or a person, the clinging becomes less desperate and starts to wane. 

Once we recognize we have been holding on tightly, we can finally begin to let go. We may see the futility of what we have been clinging to. An acceptance slowly glides in. Then the options we have identified start to make sense and we can make space for situations which serve us better.

In an organization, what is being held on tightly to? Certain stakeholders? Certain processes and systems? Certain ‘rules’? Certain products or services? What if we did an honest inventory to bring awareness to what the organization is clinging to? What can be let go of?

Wisdom Tool Number Four: Take Action

Now that we have become aware of our blindness, realized there are options, stopped clinging, started to let go and recognized how it impacts others, we are in the transition stage and change is inevitable. There is no way back. The situation has been acknowledged, options have come into awareness and we have started to create space by letting go. 

“Each step will build confidence for the next one, and though fear may remain, it will diminish and in its place confidence and know-how will grow.”

The migration may seem daunting. From realizing change is needed, to the actual implementation and sustainability of the change. Throughout the change unfolding, action and non-action are required. Fear and/or not knowing how to actualize the change can be a major barrier. Recognizing there are options slowly begins to melt the fear and offers us a tangible list of things we can do. With this list, we can take very small steps. Each step will build confidence for the next one, and though fear may remain, it will diminish and in its place confidence and know-how will grow.

In an organization, what is the process of implementing change? How is transition managed? How are stakeholders brought on the journey? How is the process kept lean, sustainable and forward looking?

Realizing change is wanted or needed is the first step. This, in itself, can be a major step causing much anguish, resistance and denial. The exercise of noting all options can be jeopardized by our beliefs and an inbuilt list of ‘should-nots’. All four steps can be very difficult. And they are difficult in their own way. The realization that we have been clinging on may bring disorientation and exhaustion but also a sense of relief when we know we can, psychologically at least, let go. Taking action is taking action. It can be obstructed by fear. Fear of taking the first steps. And taking the first step is generally the only solution to getting the action process started, building confidence as we go.

“Good self-governance leads to good organizational governance.”

To further explore how you can access your innate wisdom to make way for positive change in your life situation, leading to enhanced self-governance and organizational governance, schedule a coaching conversation with Siobhán. 

Drop a note to to set something up.

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