Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Prescription for Managing Crazy Changes in 2017

For me 2016 was a tough year...

I suppose millions of us could say that. The most profound challenge for me has been dealing with the hole in my heart due to the loss of my close friend Liz slightly more than a year ago. Cancer was the culprit. Typically I surf waves of sadness, loss, and uncertainty with strength and gratitude by focusing on the good things and finding meaning in tragic loss. After all I've experienced massive loss before. Somehow this year was different, more intense and more painful.

My tears have mostly dried up but the hole in my heart seems to be just as wide as my father goes in and out of hospitals at ~90 years old, as my daughter prepares me to cross the teenage threshold, and as my work-life cycles through patterns that I left behind long ago. My number one priority for 2017 is managing crazy changes with a bit more pizzazz than I did in 2016.


When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your job is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. 

That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that is - everything around you that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.

                                                                     - Steve Jobs, PBS "One Last Thing" (2011)


Crazy Changes in Life

Personal life changes can be grouped into broad categories - physical, spiritual, emotional, relationship, time, education, career, business, wealth, and contribution. I'm sure there are many other ways to describe personal life changes, but this list just about covers it. Crazy changes - positive or negative - in any of these categories can cause lots of stress and discomfort if not managed well. Whether the change is moving up at work, winning the lottery, or moving away from home, crazy changes can rock your world.

In addition to personal life changes, there are even broader changes in society, in social circles, in communities, in governments, in technology, in climate, and across the globe - events that are overlapping with personal life transitions. We're transforming into different people at different phases of our lives where our priorities, preferences, and passions change simultaneously as the world outside of us is changing even more rapidly. These mismatched rates of change can leave us feeling shaken and uncertain. We're constantly changing - and so is our world.

As crazy life changes continue, be mindful of the change management curve shown below. We may cycle between states before closing the door on an event or transition period. It's okay to freak out a little but don't stay there for too long.



Crazy Changes at Work

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) has brought massive technology innovations into our lives which often have us kicking and screaming in jubilation or trepidation depending on which end of the spectrum we're on. There may be jubilation when technology transforms billions of lives or creates billions of dollars - or there may be trepidation when technology transforms millions of jobs into computer programs making it nearly impossible for humans to compete. 

We're well into the new millennium and crazy work changes will continue to accelerate. We don't have the luxury of reaching back into our history for more favorable conditions - at least not for long. There is no going back - only forward - and it's up to us to find new ways to manage. Artificial intelligence, automation, optimization, off-shoring, out-sourcing, and open-sourcing are just a few of the crazy work changes that are making people gnaw at their fingernails in wonder as trusted institutions are being reconfigured before our eyes.

It's no wonder...


"The Fourth Industrial Revolution, finally, will change not only what we do but also who we are.

It will affect our identity and all the issues associated with it: our sense of privacy, our notions of ownership, our consumption patterns, the time we devote to work and leisure, and how we develop our careers, cultivate our skills, meet people, and nurture relationships.

It is already changing our health and leading to a “quantified” self, and sooner than we think it may lead to human augmentation. The list is endless because it is bound only by our imagination."

                                                                          - World Economic Forum (2016) 


Is Your Work-Life Balanced? If So, Great!

Several years ago I stepped away from a corporate leadership role to repay the huge time-debt that I had wracked up with my family while spending time away from them - on the road, in the air, abroad, at home - for work. I had also been engrossed in my PhD studies full-time, preparing for crazy changes that I intuitively saw on the horizon - crazy changes in the world of work.

Was I a glutton for punishment? Absolutely! I wanted to close my knowledge gaps as quickly as possible so I could be professionally prepared to help as many people as possible across the change thresholds that were rapidly coming up. I was spot on with my professional calculations, but I had miscalculated with respect to my family.

After taking bold steps to close time-debt gaps with my family, I shudder to think where I would be today if I had not shifted. I'd be further in my career certainly, but I'd also be farther away from my ultimate goal of a life well lived. I've gone the distance with my family and my soul is happy. As my dad has always said that "nothing worth having is easy." My work-life is balanced! 

Now it's time to move forward - again - this time aiming for life-work integration. Life first, then work.



Here's a Prescription for Managing Crazy Changes in 2017

With all of the changes that we're living through right now with more to come, stay awake and alert so you can witness humanity's transformation as it speeds by! As for the craziness, here's your prescription for managing through it without the use of mind-altering substances:

  • [1] Limit Exposure to "Breaking News" Reports: There are too many "breaking news" outlets everywhere chomping at the bit to capture eyes and minds. Select "real" news sources and determine specific time slots and short durations to stay informed. Otherwise shut it down!

  • [2] Take Long, Solitary Walks - Be Still: Much has been learned about the overwhelming effects of mindfulness and presence to keep craziness to a minimum. In addition to limiting the influx of "breaking news", spend time alone being quiet so you can hear your own thoughts.

  • [3] Spend More Time With Family and Friends: Connecting with loved ones can help to keep crazy changes in perspective. Recharge over dinner discussions, movies, sports, events, or take time to build new memories with staycations or vacations.

  • [4] Focus on Top 3 Priorities: To ensure successful execution of your top three (3) priorities, keep the list of sub-tasks or objectives short, energetic, and concise. If your objectives don't energize you, then rewrite them until they do.

  • [5] Expand 4IR Skills via MOOCs: There are over 4200 MOOC courses for up-skilling and knowledge expansion available to individuals with internet access anytime, anywhere - many of them are free. Decide what you want to learn, learn it, prove it, and sell it.

  • [6] Build or Revamp Your Personal Brand: Branding and marketing yourself is no longer an option. Stay quiet and risk becoming a ghost before your time. There's a major difference between bragging and sharing. Strategically share who you are, what you do, and what your interests through the use of amazing social technologies.

  • [7] Get A Coach, Mentor, or Sponsor: What got you here, won't get you there. Heard that before? No matter how much you know, there's always someone who can help you to learn more. Seek out and secure effective coaches, mentors, and sponsors, or start a Mastermind Group to keep your ideas fresh as you move to the next level on your climb. Keep it movin'!

This prescription doesn't have to be taken in moderation. Take all or some - either way be sure to keep this prescription with you on your 2017 journey!

Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year!


Lillian Gregory is a passionate advocate for 21st Century Leadership with special focus on Women in Leadership, Women in Technologyand US Veterans and Spouses. She provides research, strategies, tools, workshops, and events to help close leadership and career strategy gaps. Download your FREE eBook from The Institute for Human and Leadership Excellence and get ready to climb!

© 2016 All Rights Reserved.


No comments:

Post a Comment