Don’t accept problems at face value.
When adversity hits, our innate response is to focus sharply on the dangers, difficulties, and downside. Nothing wrong with that per se. The question is, how long should we let it continue?
As soon as the initial shock wears off, we need to give equal time to the upside. Shift your focus away from what’s troubling about the situation, and search intensely for what’s potentially good. Reinterpret the situation from a positive slant. Look for possible benefits that equal or even outweigh whatever you see that’s bad.
Now this reframing doesn’t come naturally. Most of us have to train ourselves to make such a transforming shift in perspective. It requires conscious effort—mental discipline—plus an open-mindedness to the idea that good things hide in strange places.
If you look back over your lifetime, though, you’ll note that some of the blackest clouds carried the shiniest silver linings. What you thought were your biggest problems maybe turned out to be the best things that ever happened to you. Positive reappraisal gives you a chance to envision the bright side so much sooner—like right now. This helps you through the stress, suffering, and uncertainty. It also positions you to turn the minus into a plus.
THE SCIENTIFIC ARGUMENT FOR OPTIMISM
There’s a hot new field of research in the behavioral sciences. It’s called positive psychology, and it’s proving that attitude profoundly affects performance. Study after study spells out the benefits: Optimists get paid more, are healthier, win more elections, live longer, plus are better at dealing with uncertainty and change.
A lot of people have pretty much felt this at a gut level. What’s new is the confirming evidence from...
Sometimes you can see it coming. Other times you just get a feeling inside, the vague sense that something big, something different is coming down. But now and then it takes you totally by surprise. Regardless of how it approaches, though, change usually comes with a traveling companion:
This uncertainty often blankets us well before the actual changes arrive. Like a descending fog that marks a shift in weather, uncertainty...
How safe is it really to assume that a low-stress work environment serves our best interests?
Let’s say we push for a slower pace of change . . . less pressure to perform . . . a more relaxed, low-keyed atmosphere in general. And let’s say we prevail. Top management cuts us some slack.
Chances are we enjoy some temporary relief. Our stress level drops, and maybe we point to that as proof that the organization made the right move. . . .
Leaders who have edge have an unflinching readiness to face reality and the courage to act. Edge decisions may not be pleasant or popular in the short term. But a great leader has the willingness to do things that will make the organization better, even though they may be scary or painful. And great leaders are unwilling to let the difficulty of the decision cloud what they know is the right thing to do.
Great leaders have edge in all their decisions. They make tough decisions about...
Here you are, staring at the cards life has handed you. And looking back is a “full house” of questions...a fistful of uncertainty.
At first glance maybe you figure this situation doesn’t offer you a half decent chance of winning. But life refuses to shuffle and re-deal. Nobody gets to discard and draw again. Finally, you’re not even allowed to fold—one way or another, this is your hand to play.
Ok. So long as you’re here at the table, let’s study the cards a little more...
As organizational change closes in and uncertainty clouds the future, a primal alarm goes off deep inside your brain. Without any conscious effort on your part, this basic survival instinct warns you: “Be careful!” Automatically you start scanning for danger.
This natural impulse, designed purely for your self-defense, asks questions like these:
• How could I get hurt in this deal?
• What do I stand to lose?
• Where could things go wrong?
When it comes to categorizing organizational change, mergers stand as the seismic event. Nothing else even comes close. Not even bankruptcy.
Unlike piece-meal change, mergers have it all. Consolidation requires a restructuring of sorts. Redundancies lead to downsizing. Cultures clash. Systems and processes must be reworked and reconciled. Policies and procedures get revamped. The product line can double overnight. The whole power structure gets re-negotiated.
All this (and more...
Managing in a process-centered organization calls for a new mindset. We’re dealing with work from a different slant. It’s no longer simply a vertical, top-down, task-specific exercise. Management now involves broad-spectrum responsibility for facilitating the flow of work from left to right. The old north to south style of management is too one-dimensional. Too localized. A process focus means our perspective must swing around such that we’re mainly thinking west to east...all the way...
Most organizations and work groups are managed, rather than led. This is a common problem in business, but a particular problem in organizations confronted by transition and change.
Right now you have a remarkable “opening” for leadership. You need to realize that this can be your finest hour.
During organizational transitions—when things are confusing, stressful, and generally destabilized—employees look for leadership. It’s easy enough for the company to put you...
Tomorrows often look very different when they become our yesterdays.
Maybe the situation you’re experiencing now feels undesirable and difficult. And maybe you expect it to damage your future. But one of these days you’re likely to see all this in a very different light.
Human beings actually aren’t very good at forecasting how they’ll feel about things later on. As Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert puts it in...
The most important time to operate with the long view is when the future seems most uncertain.
Problem is, uncertainty pulls our attention toward the situation that’s close at hand. We become preoccupied with what’s going on short-range. Then what happens? We behave as if present circumstances will dictate how our future develops. Instead, we should rely on our long view of the future to guide how we deal with our present circumstances.
You have a life story unfolding...
Part of your job is to find, and then face up to, the problems and aggravations that routinely occur during times of organizational change.
Often the solution to one problem generates a new set of problems requiring additional solutions. That’s just the way the change process operates.
So expect trouble. To do otherwise is to kid yourself. Problems will be out there...somewhere. If you’re not aware of any, that’s a problem in itself. Get in touch with your organization.