Stieglitz.com

Business Consultant, Author and Motivational Speaker

Leading Change
THE PAIN OF CHANGE

"Leaders establish a vision for the future. They inspire others to go in the right direction. Then they, along with everyone else, sacrifice to get there."
John Kotter 

My sister-in-law is an animal lover who usually has several dogs in her home. She protects them with an electric fence. But Hubert, a Springer Spaniel, was one dog she couldn't contain. Hubert knew the pain of the electric fence, but it didn't stop him. One day I watched as he stood 10 feet from the fence and planned his escape. Then he sprinted as fast as he could and leaped through the electric fence with a yelp. Momentum carried him through the pain and he was free. After a brief adventure in the neighborhood, Hubert returned to the front door waiting for my sister-in-law to let him back in the house.

Some barriers to success are like electric fences. To get where you want to go, you have to endure pain like Hubert jumping through the fence. Psychologists say humans are driven more strongly by pain-avoidance than by pleasure-seeking. Therefore, to achieve future success we must conquer our natural resistance to change - which, for the most part, is painful. Similarly, organizations move forward by consistently making changes to prepare for the future. Organizations that make change normal and comfortable have a high probability of success.

Ever wonder how successful leaders always have their organization in the right place? It's because they put themselves in position to succeed by continuously preparing for new opportunities. They tame the dragon of short-term pain that holds organizations inside the "comfort" box. Successful leaders don't waste precious time trying to avoid the pain of change. Instead, they tolerate pain and make change a habit. Your success depends more on the actions you take today than on your past successes, your resources, or luck. Don't avoid action merely because of the short-term difficulty of the first step.

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January 2015

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