Learn to Get Comfortable with Change

By Amy C. Waninger

Your world is changing more rapidly than ever before, bringing a barrage of industry discussions about disruption, agility, and resilience. Professionals who adapt quickly can seize new opportunities and manage their careers. It’s time for each of us to get comfortable with change.

What Keeps CEOs Up at Night?

Deloitte tells us that 90 percent of CEOs believe their organizations are facing disruptive changes. This is true in your industry, and in every other one, too. As a professional speaker, I attend conferences in a variety of industries. I hear leaders in every sector of the economy discussing the impacts of blockchain, bitcoin, big data, climate change, future of work, power of robotics, changing demographics, increasing urbanization, technological advancement, and moving regulatory targets.

Taken collectively, these phenomena conspire to change our businesses, our jobs, and our lives in profound ways. And yet, only 30% of CEOs believe their organizations have the skills to adapt. Make no mistake: CEOs are worried about this. Senior executives live in the future. It’s their job to prepare for coming challenges. And the metrics show a significant confidence gap. Whatever your role in a company, stand out by showing a willingness to learn. Demonstrate that you are adaptable and responsive to change. Better yet, learn to anticipate or even predict change by getting out in front of trends.

Change Is Here to Stay

The pace of change is increasing. Put another way, the rate of change you’re seeing today is the slowest it will ever be.

We can’t stop it. So, we must embrace it. The only way to do so is to learn what’s new and what’s coming, or to create the future ourselves.

Pain is the measure of our resistance to change.”

Source Unknown

Change Is Complicated

Why is this so difficult? For starters, the problems of tomorrow aren’t apparent yet. Think about it. The jobs of today weren’t foreseen a few years ago: Data Scientists, SEO Specialists, Digital Marketers, App Developers.

Can you imagine traveling back in time to try to explain “cloud security” to the executives at Blockbuster? For that matter, who would have predicted that someday people would be paid to deliver Taco Bell in the suburbs?

Now, time travel to the future. What jobs and problems will exist in 2040? More importantly, how do we start preparing today to solve them?

The Importance of a Learning Culture

Many people equate learning with going to school, obtaining certifications, or taking tests. Certainly, there are advanced programs that stretch students to innovate. But most of our formal education system is still tied to the needs of a manufacturing economy. Rote memorization, applying known rules, and multiple choice exams will only get us so far. In each these cases, the problems are contrived, and the answer is known. Someone asking a question to elicit a particular (correct) response.

We don’t know the answers to challenging business problems yet. In many cases, we don’t even know the questions! So we need to continue to learn and collaborate across disciplines to build flexible and unique solutions for myriad contingencies. Learning cultures allow us to prepare for the unexpected. Inclusive leadership that celebrates diverse talent will identify needed perspectives we might otherwise overlook. And capitalizing on each person’s unique strengths will allow us to go further, faster, together.

What changes are you facing? How are you preparing to address them?

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