You can’t do change perfectly

Photo of a white person's hands, facing away, with index and thumb creating a frame for the word CHANGE, isolated on a white background.

There’s no such thing as “perfect” change, no matter how well or how thoroughly you plan. As boxer Mike Tyson observed, “Everyone has a plan – until they get punched in the mouth.”

Change is inherently unpredictable and uncertain, and expecting it to be anything else will earn you the equivalent of a punch in the mouth. While not physically painful or bloody, it can be painful to your ego, and painful to your career.

And for some reason, people – even seasoned leaders of change – often go into a change initiative with blithe optimism, without taking the time to consider the risks involved, or how to mitigate them.

I recently heard a mic-drop statement from Walmart CEO Doug McMillon on a podcast with Simon Sinek. It stopped me in my tracks in mid-ball-throw with our dog, leaving her staring at me with a “what are you doing?” look.

Photo of a Golden Doodle dog with a puzzled expression, standing outside on brown grass.“Without change, you can’t succeed. With change comes risk.”

You can’t foretell – or prevent – or plan to mitigate – every possible scenario. There are just too many unknowns lurking in the future.

But you can set expectations, for yourself, your team, and your leadership, that there will be unexpected curve balls and speed bumps.

And you can stop to think about what those might be, taking some time ahead of time to consider what you can do in the event they actually happen.

And you can remember that, no matter how forethoughtful you are, there will be surprises.

Which makes things so much easier when the inevitable happens.

One of the BIG variables in a change initiative is people, and their unpredictable reactions to what’s happening. If you’d like to learn more about how to manage the people aspect of change – on which your success absolutely depends – drop me a note through my contact form and we can set a time to talk about it.