Managing Change – Puppy Lessons


IMG_0990Yesterday we brought home a new puppy. Exciting and wonderful – yes! Absolutely. And also, perhaps, just a little bit scary. Any change, whether perceived to be positive or negative, holds unpredictability. Is this experience going to be as wonderful as we think? How will this change our lives?  Change means risk.

In her podcast Creativity and Risk TakingAmy Climer talks about how we experience a sense of risk when the outcome of what we are doing is uncertain. So even when engaging in something we think will have a favorable outcome, it can feel risky. Any change can be stressful.

As individuals and as members of groups, we encounter change constantly. Some changes are small, others more significant; some work in our favor, others may work against us. Sometimes we cope with change better than other times. Think about a recent change that you’ve experienced. What are the things that helped you to be most successful at managing that change?

Here are some of the things my new puppy is teaching me about successfully managing change:

  • Learn as much as you can about the upcoming change. Read books, talk to people who’ve had similar experiences, talk to others who have expertise in situations like yours, use technology to broaden your understanding.
  • Prepare! In addition to learning all that you can, prepare your environment in advance. Consider the supplies you need and have them ready. Make a plan for how you will integrate this change into your daily life. Who is going to be responsible for what? How might your schedule or activities need to be modified? What support will you need from others?
  • Trust your own instincts. Listen to the experts, and at the same time, remember that every situation is different and yours may not fit neatly into the examples provided by experts.
  • Be ready to adapt when something unexpected happens. It always does!
  • Pay attention to what your experiences are teaching you and apply those lessons going forward.
  • Forgive yourself when things don’t go exactly as planned. There are almost always setbacks and mistakes along the way. Learn from them and move on.
  • Stay positive!

I’ve learned a lot in just one day. Imagine how much more I’ll be learning from this puppy in the years to come!


When should you abandon a goal?


Abandoning a goal. Ouch! For achievement-oriented folks, that’s a tough idea to swallow. But are there times when it might be the right thing to do? I’d say yes, actually. Here’s why.

I love audacious goals. And aiming high can often take you much farther than you might otherwise hasetting goalsve reached. So it’s hard to reconcile a basic philosophy that “if you can dream it, you can achieve it” with giving up on a goal. And yet…sometimes that’s the right decision.

Circumstances may have changed since you initially set your goal. Life events, market conditions, new laws, environmental changes all could impact your ability to achieve a goal. Or perhaps the goal was not as well thought out as it might have been. right from the start.

When you find yourself faced with the difficult decision about whether to continue pursuing a goal or not, here are some things to consider:

  • Is it realistic?  I might set a goal to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics, but if I’ve done nothing up to this point to prepare, it’s not remotely realistic that I’d achieve that goal.
  • What will it cost to achieve? Not only financially, but physically and emotionally as well. History is filled with examples from the military, where one side or the other “wins the battle, but loses the war,” because too much was sacrificed in order to win the battle. And how many businesses can you think of that expanded too quickly or too broadly, only to have to pull back and then struggle to regain their pre-expansion levels?
  • Can the goal be modified?  Are there changes that would make the goal more realistic, and still worthy of achieving? For example, while my goal of competing in the 2016 Summer Olympics is completely unreasonable, the goal of running a marathon might be more realistic.

Make it a habit to think through these questions when first setting a goal and you’ll be far less likely to face a decision to abandon that goal later on.

Teams succeed when everyone contributes


I watched the NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremony the other day and was repeatedly struck by how often inductees brought up the roles others had played in their success.


Whether it was family, coaches, or teammates, the theme running through all of the speeches was that the inductee would not have achieved the level of success that he had without these others who played critical roles in that success. Whether it was a leadership philosophy that it takes the whole organization to win, a player’s gratitude for the coach who believed in him, or appreciation for the teammates that put these inductees in a position to shine, the message was clear – a team can achieve great things when everyone contributes.


everyone contributes

The value of teamwork is more easily recognized in sports than in other arenas. We understand the need for every member of an athletic team to be working together, leveraging each person’s strengths, to achieve a common goal. Win the game, score the most goals, get more points, go faster than the other team. Outside of sports, the value of teamwork is often overlooked, and yet it matters just as much. Organizations may say it’s important, and even call their work groups “teams,” but the need for purposeful team development is frequently unrecognized or low on the priority list.


I’ve recently been a customer at a local business where teamwork is not evident. The particular individual I’ve been working with is fairly new on the job. No harm there – we’ve all been in that position at one time or another! But in this case there is no evidence that co-workers provide any support or assistance to each other, and the quality of work along with customer service suffers because of it.  In contrast, I am a frequent customer at a local restaurant where all of the employees are clearly part of a cohesive and engaged team. It’s apparent in the way they interact with each other, with everyone focused on the same goal of making everything about the customer experience exceptional – from the food to the service to the entertainment.

I’m sure that you can think of positive and negative examples from your own experience, from sports or other areas. What did you notice about the way team members interacted? How did those interactions impact outcomes and the ability of the team to achieve its goals? What about teams that you are part of – are you on your way to the Hall of Fame, or helping someone else get there?


Improve your thinking


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