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How to be comfortable with feeling uncomfortable

Enterprise agility practioner's right hand with index finger extended towards globe framed by network of dots of light connected by lines of light against a cityscape in backround

Why do so many of us fear change? Especially given its prevalence across our lifetime.

The well-known business fable “Who moved my cheese” (I highly recommend reading it if you haven’t) outlines how our fear of change is driven by the fear of losing what currently sustains us. The comfort of what we have – despite there being indicator that it might not last – causes us to reject seeking out anything new.

But change is inevitable, and there isn’t anywhere where this is more current than in the workplace.

A recent report from the World Economic Forum stated that by only 2022, over a quarter of jobs across all industries will come from emerging professions, that is professions which have only just appeared or do not even exist today. Driven by a technological shift, as organizations seek to leverage the improvements and savings offered by automation and AI, many current roles are at threat. The same report offers a positive outlook as well; while some jobs will disappear, they will be replaced by other roles which enable increased productivity in different areas.

Change does not necessarily equate to a negative impact

The opening chapters of AgileSHIFT®, one of AXELOS’s latest best practice solutions, explore this technological shift and what it means for both individuals and organizations. The guidance provides support for those who want to better understand what this type of change will mean to them, and how they can actively participate in it.

I was lucky enough to be a part of the development and heard from many people about their stories and experience in dealing with change. Here are a couple of thoughts I wanted to share:

  • It’s empowering for organizations to help staff understand why change is taking place and how they can engage with it. Looking back to the story of “Who moved my cheese”, a big factor which caused the fear to seek something new, was simply not knowing why things were changing and what they would mean for the characters.
  • Never think you don’t need to change. A story which resonated with me during the pilot sessions for AgileSHIFT was how one delegate told the story of his son who had chosen to be a car mechanic. One of the main drivers for the choice, was that it was safe trade and despite his father’s guidance otherwise he was certain he would have a job for life. This all changed when the delivery company he worked for replaced their current fleet with electric vans, and the only requirement for the mechanic was to replace the battery box.
  • Some people will simply not want to change. In any change initiative there will always be those who simply do not want to change. And while it’s important to be patient with these individuals, sometimes no matter what you do, they will simply reject the change. Don’t let them dampen your efforts to explore new opportunities.

We live in a world in which over decades and centuries the workplace has become almost unrecognizable to what went on before. Arguably the pace of change is increasing, which can be scary. But everybody should be comfortable with the change that is happening – it can offer far more opportunities than risks.

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