“Be prepared” and “be change ready.”
These two phrases are in frequent use this fall for dealing with Mother Nature and organizational transformations.
One is relevant and the other is quaint.
“Be prepared” is a valuable motto not just for the Boy Scouts, but also for anyone who lives in the path of hurricanes, in earthquake or flood zones or in other areas where natural disasters can strike.
In 2017, one of the most expensive and traumatic years for hurricanes and wildfires in the United States, being prepared for a natural disaster means:
- Paying attention to weather news and responding accordingly.
- Developing a plan of actions to take before, during and after a disaster, as advised by http://www.ready.gov
- Putting together a supply kit and keeping it up-to-date.
Friends of mine in Charleston learned these lessons the hard way. Even though Charleston was 200 miles from the eye of Hurricane Irma, winds up to 72 miles per hour pounded the coastline and generated nearly 10-foot tidal surges, causing flooding and downing power lines.
Yet, as my friends were driving home in the pounding rain from a weekend trip to North Carolina, they listened only to their favorite tunes on their phone.
When they tried to cross one of the bridges with river water swirling over the sides, their SUV stalled and started to take in water. Luckily, an individual driving by in a big truck rescued them and their dog and took them to a motel on dry land.
They had a change of clothes, but no emergency supplies, food, water or other helpful items with them.
They did have their credit card and driver’s license, which allowed them to rent a car that they drove until they could replace their ruined SUV. They also vowed never to repeat this experience.
Now let’s look at the other phrase, “being change ready” in terms of work. Why is it quaint?
Because these days you’re always in the middle of change.
Think about it. If you’re like most of us, you’ve always got some request, project or initiative that requires you to work or behave differently. For example, you can be refreshing your strategy, updating technology, introducing multiple HR initiatives, etc.
In other words, change is not linear; it’s constant in our VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world.
To deal with change you need to:
- Practice self-care.
- Observe current practices and question the status quo.
- Take time to brush up on critical skills as well as learn new things.
Consider a client of mine who’s leading a new initiative in her organization, as well as serving as a team member on several others. A few months ago, she started gaining weight, feeling cranky, and wanting to take a nap in the afternoon – classic signs of sleep deprivation. She realized she was trying to get by on just three to four hours of sleep each night.
Worried that her high blood pressure would return, she decided she had to get more sleep. She delegated one of her assignments to a colleague, delayed work on a low-priority item, and adjusted her schedule and other activities so she could double her sleep time. Six to seven hours isn’t enough according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but at least she’s no longer depriving herself of needed sleep. (For more about the adverse effects of sleep deprivation, check out this infographic from SleepStandards.)
Within a week, she started to feel better. She was able to maintain her focus, think more critically and be a more supportive team member.
When you don’t feel well, either physically or mentally or both, it’s easy to be irritable and fall into a routine of doing things in a rote way. Your field of vision can actually narrow, so it’s hard to see new ways of working, including serving customers more effectively.
Besides being less creative, you may be less likely to push yourself to experiment or adapt to new situations.
For self-preservation, we’ve got to realize that disasters, organizational change and other chaos are part of our lives, both personal and work. To get through them, we need to prepare and always be taking steps — even tiny ones — that help us respond.
To get and stay in this mindset, how about simplifying your life? Drop the phrase “change readiness” and adopt “be prepared” for disasters, organizational change and everything else.
Are you ready to focus on “being prepared” like a good scout?
Connect the dots plus dot the “i”s to be more intentional, inquisitive and inclusive
How well are you tapping into the skills and wisdom you need to lead in a BANI world?
All the old playbooks are out-of-date. Instead, you need to reach inside yourself, tap into your wisdom, and connect the dots for yourself and others.
To start, you can use these 5 tips to embrace your humanity and become a better leader.