It’s okay not to be okay in change

Posted on 30. May, 2016 by in Change management, Conscious Leadership, Organizational Development

Just when you think you’re moving forward, you have 24 hours of not feeling okay. Have you had one of those days? Days when nothing feels right, regrets and resentments creep in and all that stuff you thought you had let go of shows up again. Reflecting back, you realize it was simply part of the change journey you’re now on, but the key factor is how quickly you can bounce back. Just as important is how compassionate you are with yourself recognizing the ambiguity of what lies ahead.

I’m writing about this because it’s part of our human experience to have moments when we recount our steps, question our choices, and feel tension in the midst of change. It’s human not to be “okay” every so often but nobody ever says that! Worse are our own high expectations that don’t necessarily make room for being anything less than perfect! Pretending everything is okay or not checking-in with expectations can lead you astray and more importantly, those you may be leading.

Leading change takes courage, commitment, and communication.  Those 24 hours in which you didn’t feel okay were testing your courage and commitment.  When we stop addressing our needs, start to blame and lose sight of our commitment; our internal and external communication breaks down.  I’ve seen the same thing happen in organizational change.  If not managed well, we might hear sweeping statements like “they are resistant to change,” or “they don’t care.”  I can guarantee that groups of people in the organization are not feeling okay.

So our job in these critical change and growth phases is not simply to “get on with it,” but rather offer a compassionate ear and use strategies to enable yourself and others to bounce-back and reignite engagement and commitment.  In organizational change, as within ourselves, there is a re-orientation period to what’s emerging. Despite taking an exciting new direction, the destination may still be unknown and why we must continually build courage, reaffirm commitment and use a variety of communication strategies to stay on track.  We cannot expect ourselves and others to be 100 percent on-board 100 percent of the time.

tantrumManaging ambiguity and change is very much part of our world today. On a change journey we uproot ourselves and our organizations. As we move from one day to the next, we are trying to make sense of our world. There will be days when nothing feels quite right, as in your 24 hour adult temper tantrum – when we know what we want but it’s either out of reach or not quite clear! In leading change we must communicate the steps toward the vision and help to make things clear so that the destination doesn’t feel so out of reach.

In leading change, be gentle with yourself and others. As emotional beings, we often feel threatened in change or the unknown, and therefore it’s helpful to create space for conversation.  Dr. Judith E. Glaser does a great job at explaining how conversational intelligence shifts the emotional response and enables trust to occur. Create and use this conversational space to share some honest reflections and acknowledge the “not feeling okay.” More often than not, it’s not the change that people resist but rather losing their place or no longer recognizing who they are in the process or how they fit with the new direction.

There is a great deal of tension in change and there will be “those days” and our job is to be mindful and present to it. There is an expression, “when we persist we resist,” so take 24 hours and acknowledge the unease. Be real with yourself and allow others the same. Take the time to connect. The resistance will let up when we create some space. The bounce will come back and when it does, recommit to the plan and trust that the next step is within reach.


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