Evolution rarely feels good or something you feel like accepting when it begins; rather, it feels like change… and change can be annoying! Professionally and personally change can be anticipated and accepted or change can be thrusted upon you and viewed as unfair and frustrating; focusing solely on what you’ve lost instead of taking advantage of the gains presented. Organizations all over the world experienced this with a global pandemic (COVID-19); change was forced, many suffered, and leaders and organizations had to evolve or die! Lives were changed as people were home together unabated for months at a time and relationships had to evolve or die! I can go on but you get the point… Whether it’s a global pandemic or something on a smaller scale… there will always be something lurking around the corner to gut-punch your organization, your team, and your life. Leaders are able to accept the new normal quicker than others and allow evolution to work in their favor. So, how do you do it?
I’m honored to get to do what I do for a living; enhancing leadership and work/life harmony for organizations, leaders, employees, and teams around the country. I was finishing up a Leadership Training with an organization that survived COVID-19, but obviously went through significant changes and a leader asked, “How do we get back to normal?”. The response I gave shot out of my mouth while my thoughts were going a mile a minute… “Are you sure that’s what you want?”.
She was well-intended in her question; as she cared for the organization, her people, and the mission however, she did want most people do… romanticize the past!
The organization in the scenario above or your organization had a past before COVID or any other big change you’ve experienced. That past had some great qualities… or you wouldn’t exist now. That past also had some mediocre qualities that could have been improved and some bad qualities that would have benefited from being addressed, changed, or scrapped! The same happens when we explore our lives and relationships. We tend to resist change and the possibility for evolution because we get stuck romanticizing the past or its comfortability… only focusing on what was great or good, what you liked about it, what you got from it; ignoring how it was as a whole, the festering problems, and ways to make it better!
When you choose to view this as a leader, ask yourself, your team, your employees, or those in your personal life these questions and simply listen:
- What aspects did you like from before the change?
- Is there anything we could have been doing differently before the change that would have made us better, more productive, or more prepared for the change?
Asking, answering, and pondering these questions will get you out of sulking mode and into Evolving Mode! Remember, trying to recreate what was will only take you away from what is and what can be! The past and the way of doing things is gone… and although sad and frustrating; it can be the start of a new and better chapter. What did you like from the past; is it possible and does it make sense to bring it back? If yes, great! If not, admire it and let it evolve! What could have been done to make you or your organization more ready for the transition… know the answer and proactively include strategies to improve and prepare for the future. As a leader, you don’t know exactly what the next change will be, but the writing is usually on the wall… sometimes in BIG BOLD PRINT and sometimes in the small fine print. Great leaders anticipate, prepare, and go!
Change has happened, the past is gone, and here you are! The present is where you live, where your organization is, and our action or inaction during this time will dictate the future… so let’s go! When I went through my biggest life transitions; a divorce, a job change after fifteen years, preparing to start my own company, and most recently… transitioning to the virtual world due to COVID… the best and most meaningful three things I choose to do was:
- Keep Your Eyes Wide Open! I use this saying often when going through change (wanted or unwanted) and share it with individuals I coach… keep your eyes wide open and take a good look and the new! It can never hurt more than the first time you see it. Through this process, gain an understanding of what you did great pre-change, what you did good but could have improved, and what you did bad and stop… making a plan of how to best move forward!
- Know your skillset! Know what you do best, what you have to offer, and have a vision for your success professionally and personally!
- Things have changed… therefore peoples’ needs or how they desire to receive what you serve may have changed. Know it, be willing, and able to deliver! Knowing the needs of who you’re serving, whether it’s your organization, your team, significant other, etc. never gets old and will pay you back ten-fold!
Let’s look at this professionally and personally… before COVID-19, organizations wanted leadership training for their people. However, when COVID hit it took a toll on the company budget, then fewer people were doing more work due to constant lay-offs and furloughs, then sadly George Floyd was murdered and Race & Diversity became paramount, and people were too busy for any training that wasn’t Race & Diversity, tech, or Zoom related. That’s a lot of change… rather, a lot of evolution! People and organizations didn’t stop needing leadership… they needed it more than ever, but needed it for different things and in a different way. I needed to know what I had to offer, what I would do, what I don’t do, understand the needs of others, have a vision, and a plan to apply it the way they could receive it best. Being willing to tweak content to fit the situation and an effort to fall in love with the virtual space saved my business, impacted companies, and a brand new virtual and pre-recorded online training series was born and will be a mainstay in my menu of services!
What about personally? Work/Life Harmony matters and it’d be a shame to succeed professionally and hate to return home! The same rules above apply. The past was epic… or at least I hope it was. You guys became a couple due to having the right connection at the right time of your lives. Things change and roles change… you’re now adults, parents, professional, etc., with other life things happening and draining your mental and physical energy. Remember the past is gone… you cannot recreate what was; even if you did… you’re different now and it may not feel the same if you intentionally recreated. Take what was good about the past… can you apply any of it to now and does it make sense? What could you have fine-tuned… have you? What’s best to scrap? Who are you now, who are they, and what do each of you bring to the relationship now? Do you know what the other needs most from you right now? Apply this as a team and enjoy your evolution… remember, it’s a marathon not a sprint!
The present is now and the future is coming! Leaders create a present that will maximize the future. The change your organization and life have experienced has allowed you to pivot and evolve to your new future! Here are some questions to ask:
- What do you want things to be like moving forward? You must have a vision… and leaders know the 3-5 things that when done consistently the vision has to come true (Vision Factors).
- Know the vision of those around you! Some of their visions and dreams will align with yours and the organization… great! Some will not… also great! Either marry the two or simply help and/or encourage them with theirs within your boundaries. You’d be surprised how much more people will do with you, for you, and forgive about you when you apply this!
- Now you know the vision… let it evolve!
Evolution isn’t something to be feared; rather to be embraced by realistically examining the past, applying what was learned to the present, and enthusiastically building for the future… Enjoy!
“Trying to recreate what was will only take you away from what is and what can be!” – Andre Young
Written by: Andre Young
Enhance Leadership and Work/Life Harmony in your Organization, your Leaders, Employees, and Teams with Andre Young’s Speaking Engagements, Evolve & Lead Training Programs (on-site, online, or virtual), and1-on-1 Growth Sessions! www.youevolvingnow.com