Thursday, May 29, 2014


Change is all around you, impacting everything you do, and things you may do in the future.

In fact, at this very minute everything around you is changing!  People, cars, the weather.  You may not even have noticed some of these changes... sitting there quite comfortably reading this, despite ever-present, ongoing change.

Why?  Because nothing mentioned above is threatening.  How would you react, for example, if a gun-wielding madman were to suddenly appear?!

Most people easily adapt to ongoing, slow change, as long as they don’t feel threatened.  For example, by the time Google launches driverless cars you probably won’t even feel threatened seeing a car sans driver, or perhaps even riding in a car with no steering wheel or brake pedal?

Do you have regularly scheduled meetings at work?  You know, like that weekly meeting everyone has to attend, but where very little work gets done?  Assigning next steps and/or follow-up tasks to individuals at such a meeting may be a simple and necessary change, easily implemented.

Want to see reaction to change?  How about sitting in someone else’s regular seat?  Ever notice how we, as creatures of habit, always tend to sit in the same spot in the boardroom at work or dinner table at home?  Well, take another person’s usual and/or favorite seat… and then observe their reaction to such a simple, unexpected change.  A frown, smile, comment perhaps?

Some years ago, a dear friend wrote in a performance review about me: “Rudi doesn’t like change.”  In response, I thought quietly to myself… “Who does?”  As a matter of fact, I’ve likely experienced and accommodated more change than most people:  I’ve lived and worked in several countries, bought and sold businesses, been shot at by intruders in my own home, made intercontinental family life- and career changes, got married, had children, etc.  Heck, in the last 5 years alone, my wife and I have lived and worked in 5 different U.S. States!

But, nothing can prepare one for real change!

Real change is unforeseen, threatening.  Meaning, not like a pending hurricane, predicted and forecasted for 5 days prior; but more like a sudden, unexpected earthquake.  Life-threatening change… really scary!

So, what can one do to prepare for the latter?  Simply put, nothing!  We're not talking about stashing cans of tuna or bottled water, but unpredictable reaction to an unexpected, life-threatening change!

Biologists refer to our survival reflexes as a fight-or-flight response.  By definition: a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival. In a moment of threatening change, your pre-programmed, evolved reflex system will determine whether you respond as a warrior, follower, or a coward.  It doesn’t really matter which you’d prefer, because you cannot predict or train for an unimaginable, unknown, life-threatening situation.

Some of the toughest people on the planet ran from the collapsing World Trade Center Towers during the 9/11 attacks.  Yet other people - regardless of their own fears - ran towards it.  You might wish to claim that First Responders are trained to do just that, but that isn’t absolutely true… many of them were likely as fearful as those fleeing, but most of them continued to do their jobs out of a sense of duty, responsibility, dedication and care for others.  And for that we should all be very grateful! 

Therefore, until a threat to your survival actually happens, don’t be fooled by motivational books, self-help gurus and other snake-oil salesmen promising change-management help!  

Rather sit in someone else’s boardroom chair.  Consider it to be hands-on training, and still just about the most fun you could possibly have at work, while remaining fully clothed.