Read and listen to previous parts of the series:
- Introduction: The 7 Skills of a Successful Careerist
- 1. Organization
- 2. Communication
- 3. Troubleshooting
- 4. Empathy
- 5. Self-Knowledge
- 6. Moneywise
In today’s world, change is constant, complex and critical to your career success. You may not like change — or even fear it — but you must not ignore it. Change will occur regardless of your relationship with it. You need to embrace change and develop ways of using change to better your life and career. Of all the 7 Skills, Flexibility to Change is the most important of all. It allows you to build the career you deserve and manage all of the other 7 Skills. Together, they provide a formidable foundation for your career
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To be flexible to change, we must first learn to recognize it. Too often I meet people who are doing the mental equivalent of sticking their fingers in their ears or their head in the sand. They think that if they ignore a change, it will simply go away. Nothing could be further from the truth. Change will happen whether we wish it to or not. We can either ride the wave of change or let it knock us to the sandy beach like an unheeded ocean wave.
Look for change in every aspect of your life and think about the possible results. How will this new relationship effect my career? How will this new technology change my business? What will happen if I ignore this change and continue on as usual? Sure, you may not like some of the changes that come into your life and career, but that matters little to change itself. The only action under your control is how you react to change. It is in these reactions to change that you will find the power to direct your career. Change can make your life feel out of control, but you are always in control of your response to change. You are always in control of your wants, needs and desires, even if change seems to be fighting against you.
Don’t fear change
One important thought to remember about change is that is causes fear, both large and small. Change challenges the status quo and can sometimes seem to turn your life upside down. Yes, change can be dramatic, stressful and frightening, but it can also be illuminating, challenging and energizing — if you see it in the proper light. Feel fear, but then turn this fear into something powerful.
It is certainly normal to be scared by change, but the most successful people will then use this fear to spur them to new action, new ideas, and entirely new businesses and careers, in some cases. This is where you need to place yourself and your thinking. Fear should spur you to action, not inaction. (See Fear should move you to action, not inaction) It is in action that you will quash the fear and begin to use the change to improve your life. It is in action that you will find solace in a sea of change. It is in action that you will find “the next big thing” that everyone is so eagerly seeking.
Avoid the surprise
Often you will hear people say that a dramatic change “came out of nowhere” and no one could have predicted it. When we look back, though, we often see that the change had been coming for months or even years, but the signs of that change were ignored or — even worse — ridiculed as unimportant or even laughable. Be very careful which changes you dismiss out of hand as they have a very nasty way of coming back to haunt you. You only have to look back at the beginning of home computers or the Internet. There are always those people who will dismiss change and try to convince others it is unimportant. Their thought seem to be “I don’t think this is important and you shouldn’t either.” Beware the pundit who dismisses a technology (or any change) too dramatically. It is very possible it is more their fear talking than their intellect.
Big change grows from small seeds. Pay attention to the small changes in the world and in your life and you will avoid the many of the big surprises change can spring on you. Don’t ignore change, no matter how small and be carefully aware when fear is dictating your response to change. Change should not be seen as an enemy in your life, but rather a simple fact, Change will always be with you, but your relationship to change — and your reaction to it — will be a dramatically defining factor in the success of your career.