The First Step in Adapting to Change

As we studied transitions with Max Raines at Michigan State, we began to identify some steps that every transition passed through.  Turns out that five of them were identified and it so happened that we could arrange them in an order where the first letters of the five steps spelled out ADAPT.  Working through transitions is adapting, right?

The first step is Activate Commitment.

Some transitions we choose.  Some transitions are forced upon us.

If you enlist in the military you choose.  If you are drafted to serve you are forced.

Start a program to get in shape and lose weight, choice.  Have a heart attack and need to recover, forced.

Change jobs, choice.  Terminated or laid off and need to find one, forced.

Get married, choice (I hope).  Lose a loved one though death, forced.

Max taught us that all successful transitions started with someone committing to embrace it.  Commitment is a bit easier when you are choosing the change you encounter.  If we are choosing it, we usually think it will be a good thing.  It gives you a burst of energy.  It empowers you to move.

I frequently talk about “happening to the world” rather than having the “world happen to you.”  I believe a key to effectiveness is consistently and repeatedly choosing to grow, learn or expand by trying on something different or new.  So, activating commitment is a good strategy for improvement.

It becomes a little more difficult when change is forced on you.  If you are like me, when something is forced on me, I can generate a bunch of different emotions.  Most of them negative.

I can get angry.  I can resist it.  I can be sad or depressed.  I can be in denial.  I can just stop and wish it wasn’t so.

Most of those emotions stop us in our tracks or cause us to drift.  If we don’t like the change we are forced to face, we won’t make progress.  We may even drop back or lose ground.

That’s where activating commitment comes in.  You acknowledge the reality of the situation isn’t what you want or hoped. You stand up and say you don’t want this status quo to persist.  You make a personal commitment to act to change it.

That’s A. Activate Commitment.

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PalletOne CEO Howe Wallace
PalletOne Inc.
Company President, Howe Q. Wallace

Since 2005, he has been sharing his thoughts on the organization, leadership, and communication in an online daily note to teammates called Daily with HQ.


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