By ADELE M LIM
Much has been said about why change initiatives and campaigns in general fail to achieve the desired results.
On the surface, many would agree that the critical success factor involves pulling together the full components of change interventions, such as leadership commitment, systems and structures, culture design and intervention-related programmes. Overlook one component and the whole intervention is in peril.
The task seems gargantuan because of the many moving parts and interdependencies. On top of that, diversity in group size, demographics and personal agenda split the energy for change in many different directions, therefore diluting the momentum required to effect the desired shift.
For every culture change initiative, only a handful of people can wholeheartedly resonate with it in such a way that they are reverberatingly enthusiastic.
In my experience, the majority of folks touched by the change initiatives carry ambivalence at best, and resistance at worst, with a variety of stress-related behaviours in between.
Change affects all. Because it carries the energy of uncertainty and loss of control, even those who love change will have their sense of well-being challenged.
While a lot of resources can go towards change initiatives, there is equal fervour to minimise investment pertaining to culture change. In commercially-based entities where hard results are held in high esteem, anything that seems to take away hard results are ostracised.
One of the main reasons that fuelled my passion in catalysing change was the stark realisation of how poorly the change process is in organisations compared to what they are potentially capable of.
Despite the leadership teams toiling to bring about positive change, in many cases, the majority of the members still point their finger towards bad leadership when the change process is poorly executed or when it fails to achieve the desired results.
Is it true that leadership is to be blamed? Or, is it faulty perception or misattribution of meaning that needs recalibration?
With a fair amount of communication, many participants of change initiatives are able to understand the need for change and see the benefits. Yet, the process does not guarantee motivation towards behavioural change for long enough to shift an organisation’s culture.
Why thrive in change?
When we focus on thriving in change, we not only have a higher chance of getting what we want at lower costs, we also become open to new possibilities.
The focal point then becomes the attraction point. This generative focal point pulls greater resources to create more room for participants to engage in a co-creative possibilities.
When we say we want to ‘thrive’ instead of ‘survive’ or ‘get through’, the entire experience changes to reflect our mental model and mantra. It has to.
Whether change is perceived positively or negatively, our capacity can expand beyond “coping with a crisis”, “feeling overwhelmed”, and “needing to go through this” to “seeing opportunities”, “nurturing our own growth”, and “having it perfectly timed”.
Expanding our capacity increases our chances of feeling good more often. When we feel good, we bring life forces that summon up other co-creative components and energy for change in the direction that is aligned with who we really are. We find ourselves leading. We become leaders, and we thrive.
To thrive in the midst of change is to feel positive and satisfied most of the time, regardless of what is happening around us. Thriving in change compounds the momentum for change by dissolving any resistance that comes along on the journey, thus strengthening the new reality at every opportunity and enabling the shift to become real.
The art of thriving
Thriving in change is an art only a handful has honed it. In my opinion, here are three reasons why.
1. Humanity has been far too conditional in its daily way of living and working.
Many organisational members want certain conditions in place before they can feel good. This is a typical human conditioning and it gets strengthened when we allow unhelpful conditioning to run our lives.
The context impacts a person’s experience. It is in the capacity to respond from a bigger space of being than before that we get out of our own way, i.e. by taking full responsibility over personal emotions while being in the driver’s seat.
Unless we believe that we need things outside of ourselves and out of our own control to change before we feel better, we cannot thrive.
2. Emotional self-awareness may have been overlooked, thus impacting certain beliefs.
Many organisational members don’t readily share emotions at work. Also, many interventions don’t have built-in change support systems or tools that can be used easily. But emotions are the indicators of how far we are from our desires.
Without awareness, sharing, or tending to emotions, we will go blind. We know that the greater the resistance, the deeper the beliefs get buried. And the more we contribute to the unspoken elephant in the room, the more we don’t allow change to come.
Negative feelings, when left unattended, can fuel behaviours that expose the organisation to high decision-making risks and trigger survival mode coping mechanisms in a vicious cycle. The individuals and the road ahead begin to blur and muddle up. This is certainly not what thriving is about.
3. There is great fluidity in leading and being led. A great leader must know when to be the magnetic force of attraction and when to be the humble follower.
The collective tension calls for willingness and courage to display vulnerability, and the wisdom to know the difference between leading from a place of:
- “I know this is where we are headed. This is why you need to follow. Just follow and you will see why,” versus
- “I don’t know how this will all pan out but I can give you an idea about the vision so you can focus on creating that,” versus
- “I am that which we want to be, already.”
All being equal in behaviour and verbal communication, each position transmits messages differently in vibration terms. The vibration is what gets picked up. When there is dissonance, it means that well-being in its deepest meaning is somewhat compromised, and there can be no full thriving.
Culture change narratives
Given these reasons, is the fault with the leadership, faulty perception or misattribution?
From an energetic lens, change is energy being collectively drawn towards and pulled in a particular direction. This direction is not the one that is marked on project plans through key milestones as led by groups, stakeholders and steering committee. It is marked by the dominant vibrations and fuelled by the dominant narrative.
If this narrative is predominantly resistant, i.e. more about how ‘tough’ it is, what is ‘not wanted’, and why there is “no other option”, instead of genuine consideration for how ‘exciting’, ‘attractive’ and the arising new choices and possibilities, resistance will prevail no matter how great the campaign package looks like.
The energy and the vibe
If we change the narrative, then everything changes. How? By laying the energetic ground work so that there is enough convergence of energy for the vision to take form.
The underlying theme here is the application of an implicit understanding that everything is vibrational. It looks like, “It’s all in the vibe” is not simply an empty phrase.
So often, the organisation’s internal conversations run along the lines of “what we need them to do”, “how we want them to do it”, “how we need to communicate ‘what’s in it for them’ in order to convince them to change behaviours”, and “how leaders can role model and walk the talk”.
When conversations run like this, what vibe does this offer us? Manipulation at its best and deception at its worst. And the cost of this? Trust.
Since vibrations is such a stronghold, how can we be more deliberate about it? By deeply connecting with who we really are. We get back in alignment, know our flow and flow our flow.
How do we know if we are connected with who we really are? Through our feelings.
By paying attention and tending to our feelings, we can soothe uneasiness, which is a sign of misalignment. This is the only thing we must deeply care about doing because when we do that, we can keep choosing the path of least resistance towards alignment.
True change has to come from within. To borrow a sentence from my four-year-old’s book, The Lion Inside:
“If you want things to change, you first have to change you.”
How is this different for leadership team compared to the rest of the participants?
There is no difference. Why? Because the dominant energy prevails and propels, and energy is egoless.
The crucial piece to note is that you will attract followers who most vibrate in alignment with you, and they will follow your lead. If you vibrate in alignment with the desired future, chances of real change is high. The caveat is that this vibration is not something we can put on or robotically practise because this is the vibration of truth.
When the reason for change is external, i.e. change is done for anyone other than oneself, it is not very sustainable because of the element of truth. Even if perception can be shifted such that focus is changed to impact momentum in a positive way, sustainability is also compromised.
Therefore, as a leader, tending to emotions is critical because emotions tell the leader what is going on vibrationally and what can be done about it.
Have some quiet time
There is so much going on and the only way to be with everything is to be alone. That’s why it is so important for leaders to spend quiet time tuning in to who they are so they are re-sourced to influence with full power of alignment backing them up.
This might interest you: Reflection And Contemplation Are Vital For Leaders To Move Forward
Allow me to share three do’s as a leader.
1. Prioritise self-care
You are a key instrument of change. Every instrument needs tending in order to be effective. Self-care in this regard is encompassing mind, body, spirit and the whole being. Self-care opens the door to positive health, happiness and abundance.
Related article: 30 Self-Care Strategies To Avoid A Burnout
It includes teachings around improving self-awareness, self-regulation of emotions and self-sufficiency. Put energy into creating a vibrational version of you loving and living your optimal state. Then whenever you feel bad, you know that you are out of alignment.
2. Practise getting back on stream
Assuming the destination is clear and the momentum is active, the stream is set for you to sail. The challenge is when you find yourself fighting currents, hitting land and losing strength.
When this happens, getting back on stream must be second nature, effortless and fun to do. This is possible as there are a variety of tools to experiment with to find the ones that work for you. All it takes is just practice.
3. Work with a change catalyst
Change catalysts are facilitators of individual and systemic truth. They are not coaches, neither are they consultants and implementation experts.
Change catalysts work side-by-side with you to bring the co-created future, transcending linear, logical and practical conditionality, through sound being-ness. Change catalysts exist to be useful, to be used in honour of the greater you. They are not there to be helpful.
If there is no self-awareness development and emotional regulating support system designed into the change intervention that is accessible to everyone, you will be in for a very bumpy ride.