Comfy? You’re doing it wrong.

Change is uncomfortable.Cartoon of CEO at conference table declaring, "I don't want to change. I want all of you to change."

Full stop, end of statement.

Whether it’s operational change (implementing new software, for instance) or cultural change (such as a diversity initiative), you’re being challenged to do things differently.

Which means you’re being challenged to think differently.

And that’s uncomfortable.

We generally get it with operational change. We know we’re learning to use a new tool, or working in a different location (hello, pandemic-work-from-home), or taking on a new role. We may not like it much – there are so many reasons why people resist change – but we understand what’s going on.

Cultural change is more subtle. Where operational change starts with being required to take on new behaviors – the actions we do – cultural change starts with how we think and even what we believe. This leads – we hope, anyway! – to different actions, but it starts with the thought-and-belief cycle.

We don’t like changing how we think and what we believe. Oh, boy, do we not like it. (Just take a look around our world today. Ahem.)

It’s uncomfortable.

And that’s why so many culture-change initiatives fail: because the people who have to lead the change, the C-suite executives who must walk the talk before the rest of the organization can come into alignment, don’t like feeling uncomfortable.

But as author and activist James Baldwin said, “I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do.”

Or, as Jerry Colonna, ex-venture capitalist, coach to startup founders and CEOs, says, “How have I been complicit in creating the conditions I say I don’t want?”

If you’re not willing to be uncomfortable, you won’t succeed in creating change – no matter how much you may say you want it.

Full stop, end of statement.