Change. Even mentioning that word opens the floodgate of emotion for many people. Why?
Change can be very uncomfortable. It is an unknown...maybe even scary. How do we know it's the right decision? If we just keep going down the same path, we can expect the same outcome. If that is not a positive outcome, then change is necessary. Life is full of mazes; how do we know which way to turn? Sometimes I wish I had a magic mirror to reveal the future in order to make decisions in the present. Of course, I don't -- so how do we make peace with a decision to change things like employment, relationships, schools, or even just moving to a different neighborhood. These are tough decisions -- no doubt about it -- and for some people may even be paralyzing.
Rogers categorized people's willingness and ability to adopt change in their lives (see below). As you can see, there are about 15% of people who love to jump in with both feet when change comes around -- these are the "Innovators & Early Adopters", the "Early Majority" may have a few questions, but are easily swayed to get on board. The next group, "Late Majority" takes a little more convincing. They are a little harder to budge -- then the final 16% "The Laggards" really struggle with moving toward change. Where do you fit in these categories, typically?
Knowing where you fit is eye opening. Think of big changes that have happened in your life recently. How did you respond? Were you on board and encouraging others, or did you dig your heels in declaring, "If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it!" In my case, I'd have to say it depends on the situation. At home, I typically fall into the late majority group. For example, it took a couple of years for me to be convinced to acquire a puppy. At work, however, I am solidly a member of the Early Adopters. I love innovation and thinking out of the box. However, it's easy to get frustrated when others aren't as willing to change. As a leader, I have to pause and think about the groupings above. Is it the idea certain people are resisting, or are they just struggling with change. Taking the time, answering all the questions, listening to concerns, these all help other to move into a positive change pattern.
Understanding our personal level of comfort with Change is the first step in making peace with it. Being able to step back from an issue and ask ourselves WHY we are feeling resistant, emotional, or overwhelmed. We may have even blasted our emotions out onto others, but we need to stop and search inside to find the source. Once the source of emotion is found -- the steps toward change come a little easier.
The Sea of Change is an entity we all meet in our lives. Making Peace with Change certainly calms the waves of our emotions and makes for a much smoother trip!