Almost every day provides information on external changes to organizations and systems that can affect us in many ways. Market demands in the private sector have already affected those organizations, with resilient organizations adapting to change to stay relevant in the marketplace. External change is now affecting public and nonprofit sectors: From thinking differently about how education is delivered in our schools, to funding constraints in the nonprofit sector, to thinking differently about the interaction of government with its citizens, no sector is immune.
How can you be resilient in the face of external change? A colleague was struggling with the direction of his spiritual needs. It was both an external and an internal change he sensed. Externally, should he stay with the institution of his childhood? That was the easy direction, and staying the course would provide him the security and safety of the known. Internally, it was different. His path wasn’t clear, and after the review and participation in various religious communities, he was able to settle on one different from childhood. He was willing to be open to change and explore options to make that change happen.
In reading about this shift it can sound like a simple transition yet for many people this is one of the most important and difficult decisions they make because spiritual communities may be the longest lasting and most stable in our lives. Many of us have fiends, mentors and teachers that have been involved in our entire lives. The process my friend went through involved a very serious consideration of what he valued, how the church met his current needs and where it did not. Additionally, he considered the impact the loss of that particular community would have on him weighted against the hope that he would build even stronger bonds with the new community that better reflected the person he is becoming.
Directing Mental Perspective is one of four primary categories of resilient leaders listed in the blog post: Building Resilient Leaders – Part 1. Your attitude, beliefs, and assumptions, not just knowledge about the change, are under your control. Rather than be overwhelmed with external changes, actively question or check with yourself about your thinking about the change. Perhaps you have an assumption that change shouldn’t be allowed to happen and strong efforts (your belief) stop the change. This assumption and belief may prevent you from seeing options. With the colleague mentioned above, his willingness to look at alternative spiritual communities (options) freed him to choose the direction he needed to move forward.
Peter Drucker (March-April, 1999) writes about providing options for oneself in a knowledge economy in his Harvard Business Review article, Managing Oneself. He states that “having options will become increasing vital.” Options provide a sense of control and the ability for future action. Think of giving yourself options as the branches of a tree. Each branch provides shade (an option) and the fuller the tree with branches the more options (and the more shade) available. As the tree has strong roots to keep it steady, the branches and the trunk of the tree move with changes in the environment. By staying flexible the tree adapts. As we stay flexible, our ability to be resilient improves and gives us strength.
Is your thinking allowing you options to live your life to its fullest potential? Are you accepting the opportunities in your life that allow you to grow as a leader? As a person?